How Oman’s first interactive menu was born out of a nightmare suffered by a young graduate who dug into a chocolate cake at a restaurant and developed allergy.
Nawar, 23, was having a wonderful evening with her family at a restaurant until she ordered a “plain” chocolate cake.
It contained hazelnuts. The next few hours of what was planned to be a happy outing turned into a nightmare.
Nawar’s face started swelling and she suffered from nausea.
“I wondered why the waiter didn’t mention that the cake contained nuts. If only I saw how the cake was made I could have avoided ruining that evening,” she said.
That was when she thought of developing an Augmented Reality (AR) menu; so diners could see the food items before placing their order.
The first-of-its-kind menu was designed for Richoux Cafe in Al Mouj.
Visitors will need to download a mobile app that allows them to view 3D pop-up figures of meals just by focusing the phone camera on the menu.
It also plays a brief video displaying how the meal was cooked.
“People take long time to decide which dish they want to have because menus fail to provide an image of each food item. Plus, most costumers hesitate to order what they are not familiar with because they do not have any idea how it will look like,” she said.
“Lots of tasty meals are not popular in Oman because people have no clue how they look,” she explained.
The Sultan Qaboos University graduate said some waiters did not know how the food was made and what ingredients were used while cooking it.
“Augmented Reality has been used in different sectors, especially health and construction. But It is rarely cultivated in the hospitality sector,” Nawar said.
Nawar’s project includes only 15 main courses and desserts so far.
“It took me just a month to add the 15 items to the application,” she said, adding that the response to her app was “overwhelming”.
Nawar, an accounting graduate, has just started her own company, Excellence and Execution (E&E), that aims at providing firms with creative marketing solutions.
Words: Hasan al Lawati