Someone tried smuggling booze into Kuwait disguised as cider vinegar.
Someone tried smuggling booze into Kuwait disguised as cider vinegar.
Last night I headed to dinner with a friend to Thai Chow King, my favorite Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurant. But, when we got there it turned out the place was closed because it was Sunday. So I quickly started thinking of another place to go and I remembered that earlier in the day someone had told me about a new Sushi place that was open in Courtyard by Marriott. Supposedly it was better than EDO so we decided to head there to try it out.
The restaurant is called Sushi, they been open since June and are located in the main lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Kuwait City. I didn’t know how packed they would be so I called them up when I was on my way and made a reservation for two but when I got there only one table was occupied by what I assume was a hotel guest. Right as we sat down the waitress came up and told us that since we arrived before 8PM we would still be eligible for their happy hour and everything on the menu was 50% off. Hearing that we proceeded to order the following:
Crab Stick Salad KD4.100
Miso Soup (x2) KD2.400
Maguro (Tuna Sashimi) KD3.500
Hamachi (Yellowtail Sashimi) KD4.250
Shake (Salmon Sashimi) KD2.500
Unagi (Eel) KD5.000
Maguro (Tuna Sushi) KD2.000
Supreme Maki Roll KD5.000
Spider Maki Roll KD4.000
Flying Salmon Roll KD4.000
Shrimp Tempura KD3.250
I didn’t take any pictures of the dishes since I don’t always want to be that annoying person during dinner, but in any case, everything looked exactly like you would expect it everywhere else. Everything except for the Miso Soup that is, the Miso Soup. The Miso Soup arrived on a large slab with the bowl filled with Miso and three different solid ingredients located on the side, the tofu, seaweed and spring onions. You get to mix the ingredients into the bowl yourself which adds a bit of interaction to what usually is a straightforward dish. From all the items the only dish that really grabbed my attention was the Unagi which was smoked eel, grilled and covered in a sweet sauce. We weren’t planning to order this at first but the waitress recommended it and I was glad she did. On the other hand the worst of the bunch had to be the Supreme Maki and Spider Maki rolls. The Spider Maki rolls contained soft shell crab but it just tasted very bland while the Supreme Maki was a lobster roll that tasted like cocktail sauce which put me off. Everything else was fairly decent but definitely not better than EDO.
Now there are a few pros and cons about the place. The ambiance could be an issue, if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and private, Sushi is for you. If you’re looking for a more lively atmosphere and a place where you can go and be seen, look elsewhere. While writing this review I also noticed we never got served the Flying Salmon even though it was in the bill. That’s not too bad of a hit though because at the end we got the 50% happy hour discount. So even though the original bill came out over KD40, we ended up paying just KD22.700. Which brings me to another subject.
Satchi no longer have the cheapest Salmon Sashimi in Kuwait, the new title holder is Sushi at Courtyard because with their happy hour discount their salmon sashimi comes out to just KD1.250.
So if you’re interested in trying them out, they’re open from 12PM to 3PM and then again from 7PM to 11PM. They’re closed on Fridays and happy hour is everyday from 7PM to 8PM. Just call ahead to make sure they still have the happy hour since the waitress kind of hinted this is a temporary thing (most likely to attract people). Their phone number is 22997000.
STREET is a new restaurant that’s opening up soon by Faisal Al Nashmi, a Kuwaiti chef and Le Cordon Bleu graduate. It’s an underground street food eatery and based on their menu and photos on instagram, it looks like they’re going to be bringing something new and exciting to Kuwait (food-wise).
The other day when I wrote about Semsom I mentioned if anyone knew of a place that made tabbouleh with quinoa to let me know. Turns out a small restaurant in Bnied Al-Gar does called Vine. Vine has been open for around nine months now and it’s a nice looking hole in the wall fusion mediterranean restaurant.
I passed by at around 12:30PM for an early lunch and the place was empty. Right as soon as I sat down this very friendly woman welcomed me. She looked like she might have been the head chef but it was difficult to figure her out since she was also the waitress and the person that takes the orders on the phone. Thinking about it she might even be one of the owners even. Right as soon as I sat down and without me asking, she brought over a bottle of Acqua Panna water and opened it for me. Not a big deal since I actually wanted water but that move would definitely irritate people who didn’t. The menu was located on their iPad so I flipped through it quickly and then asked the waitress for her recommendations. Even though they had a whole bunch of different kinds of tabbouleh I knew I wanted to try the quinoa version, I also knew I wanted hummus and after discussing it with her I went for the edamame one. She also recommended the kubba quinoa for starters while for the main course she recommended I go for the kafta yort oglo which I also did. So in the end my order was the following:
Tabbouleh Quinoa KD3.000
Kubba Quinoa KD3.250
Hummus Edamame KD1.900
Kafta Yort Glo KD4.750
Before the food started arriving I was served some complimentary bread and cheese. I also asked for some olives which turned out to be delicious. While waiting for the starters I took a good look at the place. There were around 6 or 7 tables which is pretty good for a hole in the wall and I also liked their purple colored window shades which were letting in some beautiful light. The first dishes to arrive were the tabbouleh and hummus, the tabbouleh served in a cute little jar. The hummus was alright, I didn’t taste a lot of edamame in it and I actually prefer the one at Katsuya more than this. The tabbouleh was pretty good but made slightly different from the one I had tried at a restaurant in Lebanon. The one I had in Lebanon the actual quinoa was fully cooked to the point where the germ had separated from the seed. In Vine’s tabbouleh, the quinoa wasn’t fully cooked so the germ was still inside the seed so I really couldn’t taste the quinoa in the tabbouleh. The kubba quinoa arrived soon after and even though I couldn’t taste the quinoa in it as well I still thought it was delicious and my favorite starter of the three. If only they had a healthier baked version instead of fried that would have been perfect. Finally my kafta yort oglo arrived which was composed of kafta covered in laban sauce and pine nuts. Like everything else the presentation was first-rate but also like everything else, it wasn’t a dish that stuck out or would make me want to come back again.
Once I was done with my food I couldn’t ask for the bill since there was no one in the restaurant. I waited a bit and at one point I was thinking of going back into the kitchen to look for someone. I decided to stay put and finally after a few more minutes of just waiting, the waitress came out apologizing for being gone for so long. That made it slightly better and I asked for the bill. Price wise I think it’s fairly reasonable, I ordered enough food for two people and the bill came out to KD13.900 which isn’t too bad. Overall, even though the food wasn’t extraordinary and the service slightly careless, I actually had a pleasant experience. Maybe because I was in a good mood, or maybe because I love hole in the walls but I’d probably go back and try some of their other dishes. For more information you can check them out on instagram @vinekwt
Chowking the Philippine-based fast food chain opened up their first branch in Kuwait over the weekend. I passed by on Saturday evening just to check the place out and it was insanely packed with long lines and nowhere to sit. The menu consists mainly of fried chicken, dimsums and noodles (you can check it out here).
They opened their first branch in Salmiya near Johnny Rockets and Shake Shack where Dunkin Donuts used to be. That specific location is considered cursed due to the amount of places that have opened up and shut down over the years but I think Chowking has the potential to break the curse. Here is a link to their [Facebook Page]
SaveCo Supermarket is now carrying the original Huy Fong Sriracha chili sauce. Not sure how much quantity they brought in but they’re selling fast since most people are hoarding by buying 5 or 6 bottles. I personally picked up two at KD1.800 each which is the same price Amazon is selling them. So if you want some, you need to pass by asap.
Semsom is another restaurant that’s located in Arabella and also one that has been open for a few months now. They aren’t a traditional Lebanese restaurant, instead they describe themselves as a traditional Lebanese restaurant with a twist. The “twist” aspect is what attracted me and was the main reason I’ve been wanting to try them out for awhile now.
Semsom is split into two floors, the lower floor is smoke free while the upper floor is a smoking zone. As a non-smoker I thought that was great but I was with a smoker on this trip so we originally sat upstairs. I say originally because after sitting there for 5 minutes we decided to move down into the smoke free zone. The top floor was a bit gloomy and claustrophobic when compared to the lower level which had large windows spanning from one side of the restaurant till the other. Flipping through the menu I was kind of disappointed since I was expecting a lot more dishes as well as lot more twists compared to other Lebanese restaurants. In the end we settled for the following:
Hummus with with Sumac & Zaatar KD1.600
Tabbouleh with Lentils KD2.000
Taouk Light with Fattoush KD3.800
Regular Chicken Taouk KD4.600
The hummus was served first arriving pink in color which I was expecting from the pictures. Since hummus is such a common and traditional dish I always love seeing different variations of it and this one was a pretty interesting one. It was light in flavor but combined with their hot fresh puffy bread it was perfect even though I should have been low carbing that day. The tabbouleh also worked out really well, instead of using the traditional burghul, Semsom uses lentils. A nice twist yes but while in Lebanon around two weeks ago I discovered an even better twist. Instead of using burghul, the place I had tabbouleh at had replaced burghul with quinoa and I found that to be a genius combination. So if any restaurant in Kuwait wants to copy that combo please feel free to do so and then let me know about it. The last mezza to arrive was the makanek and from all the dishes I had, the makanek had to be the best one. Not sure what their secret is but I’m guessing its all in the sauce. Finally our main course arrived. The chicken although tasted good didn’t look very appetizing and it also lacked any sort of twist that would distinguish it from the countless of taouks you could have anywhere else.
Overall a positive but unexciting experience. The service was fast and friendly and the price of the dishes was similar to other Lebanese restaurants so that’s fine. I was just expecting more fusion dishes on the menu and as it is there really wasn’t enough to win me over. If you’re interested, Semsom is located in Arabella and you can visit their website for more information [Here]
ORA is a Japanese Tapas restaurant that opened around 3 months ago in Arabella. I was out of the country when I was originally invited for a tasting and then only managed to finally pass by and try it out last week. The story behind ORA is an interesting one, five friends from Kuwait who went to school in California met Executive Chef Tiger at Katsuya in Beverly Hills. One thing led to another and the five friends came back to Kuwait with Chef Tiger and together they created ORA.
Most of the people go to ORA in the evening but I headed there with a friend for lunch since I wanted natural daylight for my photos. At night the place is very dim and from what I’ve been told the place is usually packed and the atmosphere makes you feel like you’re in Dubai. That’s generally the best compliment you can give to a place here… when it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in Kuwait. We ended up ordering the following dishes:
Yellowtail Tacos KD5.500
Salmon Crab Avocado Salad (x2) KD9.000
Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna KD3.500
Tiger Shrimp Tempura Roll KD4.750
Yellowtail Chili Miso KD6.500
Donburi Short Rib KD5.500
Chocolate & Salted Caramel Bread Pudding KD3.750
Chef Tiger was the Executive Chef at Katsuya in Brentwood, Los Angeles for four years before helping them open their locations in Hollywood and Glendale. He has an extensive background with Katsuya and that inspiration is reflected in his dishes. Like Katsuya you can’t compare ORA to regular traditional Japanese restaurants since the dishes are much more evolved. From all the dishes we had my favorite probably had to be the Yellowtail Chili Miso with my least favorite being the Salmon Crab Avocado Salad. I still think EDO has the best Salmon Crab Avocado Salad but my issue with the one at ORA was it was just a bit too safe of a dish compared to everything else we had. Unlike the other dishes it didn’t look like it was taken to the next step, one that would allow it to be distinguished from all the other Salmon Crab Avocado Salads in Kuwait. I wasn’t planning on having dessert but I was glad I did. Instead of using bread for their Chocolate & Salted Caramel Bread Pudding, ORA use croissant which makes it super fluffy while probably adding another thousand calories. But, the chef has somehow managed to make it taste very light which resulted in my original plan of having just one bite fail miserably.
One thing that really stuck out for me was the service, not only were the waiters quiet, fast and well informed, but at least with our waiter he made us feel like we were at a spa since he was very soothing and borderline therapeutic. The interior of ORA is another thing I liked about the place. It’s a beautiful minimal space and from all the restaurants at Arabella probably the nicest looking and most luxurious. Speaking of luxury, I found the prices at ORA fairly reasonable for this style of place. Sure if you order one of the lobster dishes you’re going to end up paying upwards of KD20 but majority of the items are all well within reach. Their prices are actually similar to Katsuya and MAKI but the place manages to feel a lot more upscale which makes it a perfect place for dates and special occasions. Our bill came out to KD45 and that included food, beverages and tips. The only negative aspect about ORA is the fact that it’s in Arabella which itself isn’t very luxurious. Right on top of ORA is Margherita the pizza place and right across ORA is Texas Roadhouse and there is a Pinkberry on top of that. There’s a large Red Lobster at the main entrance with an Olive Garden in front of it as well. Arabella kinda feels like an outdoor food court because of all the franchises.
I liked ORA a lot and it’s a place I would definitely go back to. Also unlike most restaurants who bring in big international chefs, Chef Tiger is here to stay and he’s brought along two of his sous chefs with him so the food should continue to remain good. ORA is open from 12PM to 4PM and then again from 6PM till 12AM. It’s always better to call ahead for reserverations and their number is 22275090. For more information you can check out their instagram @ora_kw
Please bring back the pistachio flavor.
Yellow Lemon is a new small breakfast place that opened up around two weeks ago in Salmiya near Sultan Center Shaab. It’s been awhile since a new breakfast place opened up and I’ve kinda started getting bored with my usual spots so I was pretty excited to check this place out.
When we arrived to the place it was empty except for one other table that was occupied. In total there are only five tables in the place, two large ones enough to fit four, and three small ones that fit two. The menu is divided into three main parts, omelettes, pancakes and more eggs which are different dishes made using eggs. I opted for the Turkey Muffin, a no carbs dish consisting of baked eggs wrapped in smoked turkey and filled with tomatoes and feta cheese while my friend went for their signature Lemon Pancakes. We also ordered a small bottle of water and orange juice for our drinks.
There wasn’t any music playing so it was a bit awkward having a conversation in such a small place since it felt like everyone could hear us. But, just as our food arrived, more people came in and filled the place up creating a much more cozier and comfortable atmosphere. My dish looked great and had a side of chopped watermelon. It was a very light carb free protein dish that might have been just a tad undercooked but was still fine since I prefer that to it being overcooked. My friend enjoyed the lemon pancakes as well so we were both pretty satisfied with our choices.
My biggest issue with the place had to do with the price of the water and orange juice. A small bottle of water costs KD1.000 while a teeny tiny glass of orange juice was for KD1.500. There is absolutely no reason why water should cost so much at a small hole in the wall and the same goes with the orange juice. The food was more reasonably priced with my Turkey Muffin costing KD3 while the Lemon Pancakes KD3.750. Nothing on the menu exceeded KD4.
The question on would I go back is a difficult one to answer. On the one hand my favorite hole in the wall breakfast place is The Early Bird and one of the best things there is the atmosphere of the place which this place lacks. Yellow Lemon feels like they want to be an upscale hole in the wall breakfast place targeting posh girls, and you know what, that might actually work. On the other hand I would only go back if I’m looking for a quiet private place, maybe for a morning business meeting.
For more information on Yellow Lemon including a map, check out their instagram account @yellowlemonkwt
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