Review: Chili Pepper Mexican Grill

Posted by Mark

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Chili Pepper is a new Mexican restaurant that recently opened up by the same guys behind the shawerma place Slice. My friends and I headed there on Thursday night thinking it was a proper dine-in Mexican restaurant but once we got there we realized it was actually a fast food place.

The entrance to Chili Pepper is on the ground floor but as soon as you enter you need to go down a flight of stairs since the actual restaurant is located in the basement. The place had a bunch of tables downstairs as well as the ones located outside the main entrance so finding a place to sit should never be a problem. Ordering is simple with the process is split into three steps:

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Step 1 – Choose a Type
Burrito
Burrito Bowl
Salad
Hard Tacos (2pcs)
Soft Tacos (2pcs)
Quesadilla

Step 2 – Choose a Protein
Chicken KD3.150
Steak KD3.350
Barbacoa KD3.350
Shrimp KD3.500
Vegetarian KD2.750

Step 3 – Choose the Salsa
Sour Cream KD0.200
Pico de Gallo
Corn Salsa
Green Chili
Red Chili
Guacamole KD0.600

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I ended up going with the soft tacos which come as two small pieces so I had one of them chicken and the other barbacoa (lamb). Between the two I preferred the chicken but the soft tacos were just too small and not very filling at all. When I passed by the second time today for lunch I chose the burrito and really thats the way to go, you get a lot more for the same price.

Speaking of price, I don’t understand why a fast food Mexican grill has to be so pricy. I had the chicken burrito today which is KD3.150 and that’s fine but then I added sour cream and guacamole and ended up paying KD3.950. Both those toppings should really be factored into the price. Still though the food is pretty good which is why I went back again. One cool thing they have is the nutritional information for all their items. This means you can know exactly how many calories you’re having which is great for calorie counters. If you’re interested in trying them out, they’re located in Kuwait City in the corner of the building right behind where Ubon and Rio are [Map].


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Street by Zubabar

Posted by Mark

street1

Last night I passed by Street, a new restaurant that just opened up this past weekend in Kuwait City. I had been waiting impatiently for this restaurant to open ever since I heard about it two months ago. The chef and mastermind behind Street is Faisal Al Nashmi, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate whom I had heard a lot of great things about, mostly from friends who had experienced his experimental eatery.

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Street is part of the Al Makan project which consists of a coffee shop, restaurant (Street), art gallery and a workshop studio all sharing the same space. They’re located on the first floor of a tower on the same street as Pick Yo and Karak House in Kuwait City. I found the place pretty easily since the restaurant overlooks the main road and is all glass so I spotted all the diners as I drove by. When we got there the place was packed and there was a 45 minute waiting period so me and my friend ended up walking to Souk Mubarkiyah down the road to kill time while our table freed up.

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The interior of the restaurant is very industrial looking with an open ceiling, bare concrete walls and a polished concrete floor. Some of the tables were standalone while others like the one we sat on was communal which I actually like. A communal table basically means you’re dinning next to strangers since everyone sits next to each other. Not only is it a great way of meeting people but it also allows you to see what others are eating (and if you’re nosy what others are talking about).

The menu is inspired by street food and isn’t that big consisting of around 16 main items and 5 desserts. Everything is meant to be shared so me and my friend ended up ordering the following dishes:

Crispy Duck Salad KD3.5
Spicy Crispy Rice Cakes & Brisket KD3.5
Green Curry Glazed Ribs KD4
Kimchi Fried Chicken Burger KD3.25
Brisket Bun KD2.75
Tiger Prawn Yakitori KD3.5
Chicken & Egg Bowl KD3.75
White Chocolate Tres Leches KD3.25
Snickers with Coffee Icecream KD3.75
Caramelized Pain Perdu KD3.25

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Looking at it now we pretty much ordered everything on the menu, it definitely was a cheat meal. Even though Street was packed and had only been open for four days, the service was pretty good and the food came out fast and at a steady pace. I thought that was impressive. The dishes overall were delicious, some a lot better than others. It’s street food yes but more like gourmet street food which is an interesting combination but also explains why the prices aren’t very street food like. My favorite dishes were the Spicy Crispy Rice Cakes, the Green Curry and the Chicken & Egg Bowl (pictured above). My least favorites were the Tiger Prawn which didn’t look that great presentation wise but also didn’t taste that great either, the duck salad which was just pretty boring compared to everything else we had and the Snickers with Coffee Icecream because I hate both snickers and coffee so worst combo ever. They’ve only been open for four days so I’m sure they’re still fine tuning all the dishes.

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I really liked Street and the whole concept and space. This is Faisal’s first restaurant and I think he has a lot of ideas he wants to share and Street is his canvas. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up changing the menu often or revamps the dishes whenever he feels like it. He’s young, full of passion (as you can see from his instagram) and most importantly, he has good taste. They’re currently in their soft launch phase and so are open from 7:30PM till 10PM. Check out their instagram [Here]


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Brunch at The Secret Garden

Posted by Mark

Just a quick update on the The Secret Garden Project meet up for this Saturday since I just found out there will be brunch at the garden from 10AM to 1PM. @saltbakery is making spiced fresh ginger cake, sweet potato scones and maybe some pies @mocucina is serving her vegan treats, foul, and fresh juices and @mimikuwait will be making those Turkish eggs (pictured below), using greens from the garden and her moms malted grain organic grilled toast.

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Fore more information click [Here]


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Pizzeria Volpe

Posted by Mark

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Pizzeria Volpe is a new Neapolitan pizzeria that has been open in Mahboula for a couple of months. The pizzeria is a small hole in the wall place with just three tables inside and a couple of more outside. The pizza chef is a Kuwaiti who studied and got his certificate under the famous chef Enzo Coccia. Enzo runs the pizzeria La Notizia in Naples which was the first pizzeria in the world to be recommended by the influential Michelin Guide and fork. Volpe are still in their soft launch stage but I passed by anyway earlier this week to try them out. We were two people so we ended up ordering:

Garlic Bread KD2.000
Margherita con Funghi KD4.500
Peperoni Pizza KD5.000
Pistachio Dessert KD2.750

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The first thing that arrived was the Garlic bread and it was super garlicy and delicious. Lots of flavor and when there was one piece left on the plate I wanted it. After the garlic bread the pizzas came one after the other. The pizzas were both great and similar in style and taste to traditional Neapolitan except for one minor edge, the Kuwaiti chef rubs a bit of garlic oil around the edge of the pizza to make the crust edge more enjoyable to eat. It works. It’s not as powerful in flavor as the garlic bread but you definitely get some flavor. Finally for dessert we ordered their Pistachio dessert. Not sure if I should call it Pistachio bread or pistachio pizza but whatever the actual term is doesn’t matter, the dessert was actually the best part of the whole dinner. It’s probably the single dish that would make me want to drive out all the way out to Mahboula again. Even though they had a Nutella pizza I really wanted to try something new and the pistachio pizza turned out to be a ridiculously great alternative.

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If you live in Mahboula or in the vicinity, Pizzeria Volpe is a no brainer, probably the best pizza place in the area if not the only authentic pizza place there. On the other hand is it worth the drive from the city all the way to Mahboula? That I’m not so sure about although the pistachio dessert is definitely worth trying out at least once. Pizzeria Volpe is open from Saturday to Thursday, 7:30PM to 10PM. Here is their location on [Google Maps]

Update: Based on the comments it seems Volpe are randomly closed sometimes so might be better to give them a call on 98927436 before you head there.


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Arirang Korean Restaurant

Posted by Mark

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Last week I passed by the Arirang Korean restaurant for lunch and it turned out to be a pretty disappointing experience to be honest. It was such an unexciting experience I’m actually forcing myself to write this review.

Arirang has been open for nearly three years and they’re located inside the Swiss-Belhotel Plaza (inside Muthana Complex). The location at one point was an Indian restaurant, a Kuwaiti restaurant and possibly a Chinese restaurant before finally becoming a Korean restaurant. So far the Korean restaurant has lasted the longest but not really sure why.

The interior is fairly decent looking I guess, it’s very spacious and the booths look cozy although awkwardly large for just a couple to just sit in alone.

We were three people and so we ended up ordering the following:
Beef Dumplings x 2 KD2.500 each
Shrimp Teppanyaki KD5.500
Bulgogi KD7.000
Galbi Pot KD7.000

Now here is where things started going downhill. Firstly there was only one waiter for the restaurant which is fine considering we were the only occupied table. But, because of the way the restaurant is laid out, the waiter was always at the main entrance while we were all the way inside. That meant whenever we needed anything we would have to get up and walk down a corridor to call him. It then took 50 minutes for them to serve us our starters (the dumplings) which was absurd considering we were the only customers there. Finally when the main courses arrived, the only dish that was any good was the Shrimp Teppanyaki… a non Korean dish. I had the Bulgogi which was dry and bland while Galbi Pot although looked great presentation wise, the dish was just too fatty. Once piece of rib for example had fat the size of a golf ball on it.

Maybe I visited the place on a bad day I’m not sure but I do know I didn’t enjoy the experience. They also have pretty strong competition since the popular Koryokwan Korean Restaurant is located across the street from them. But then again, if they’ve bene open for three years it must mean they have a loyal fan base, I just don’t know why.


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2aorganic

Posted by Mark

organic

2aorganic is a local website which claims to have the largest collection of organic products for sale in Kuwait. I didn’t count their products so I can’t really confirm that claim although by quickly flipping through the website I could tell they do have quite a large selection. So if you’re interested in organic products here is a link to their [Website]

On a side note not sure why they chose such an awkward name. How do you even pronounce 2aorganic?

Thanks Khaled


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La Brasa Argentinian Grill

Posted by Mark

labarsa

Last night I was invited to a food tasting at a cute little Argentinian restaurant thats opening soon called La Brasa. The restaurant is owned by the popular local photographer Gustavo Ferrari who’s been living in and documenting Kuwait for 38 years now. He was always known for holding amazing barbecues so he finally decided to open up his own place. All the meat is imported straight from Argentina and I got try a whole bunch last night (it was delicious). The restaurant is located in the basement of Dar Al Awadi in Kuwait City and the opening is in around 2 to 4 weeks. I’ll post another update once it’s open.


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Gia has reopened

Posted by Mark

gia

After being closed since the start of Ramadan, Gia has reopened again after expanding into the shop next door. Sadly their menu hasn’t expanded that much and they’re still serving the same salads which I think I’m over already. The new place looks great though with more seating inside and a few tables outside.

If you’re looking for a healthy cafe it’s hard to beat this place. [Link]


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Fuddruckers no more?

Posted by Mark

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The new Fuddruckers location on the Gulf Road has been under construction since back in 2011 but now they’ve gone ahead and removed all the Fuddruckers branding from the front of the building so it looks like this location is never going to open up. Back in 2012 I posted a sneak peek of the inside and it looked like it was practically completed.

I haven’t had Fuddruckers in years but the brand will always be special to me and all the other kids who grew up in Kuwait back in the 90s. The old Fuddruckers Gulf Road location was one of the first restaurants to open up on the Gulf Road back then and used to be a really popular hangout spot until Johnny Rockets in Salmiya opened up back in December 1995.

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On a related note there is a new burger placing opening near this abandoned Fuddruckers project because obviously there aren’t enough burger places already in Kuwait as it is.

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Update: According to a reader, the Fuddruckers location was purchased by the US franchise Steak ‘n Shake which will be opening in Kuwait.


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Hard Rock Cafe Demolished

Posted by Mark

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Back in March I posted about Hard Rock Cafe closing down and how possibly Alshaya would be taking over the location. I assumed they would just refurbish the location but turns out they’re completely tearing it down. The location became a landmark of a sort on the Gulf Road with its large glass pyramid and it was pretty popular with photographers as well.

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Last year Alshaya acquired the franchise rights for the Lebanese restaurant Babel and rumors are this is where they will be opening their first location.


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