First Drive: Porsche Macan S

Posted by Mark

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The Porsche Macan S is Porsche’s new crossover SUV that just recently joined their lineup as the baby Cayenne. But, unlike the Cayenne the Macan has one thing that’s really going for it, it has the hottest rear end of any crossover on the market right now. I just loved the design of the lights on the back which is why I took so many pictures of it. Getting to test drive the Macan wasn’t that easy. Back in early May I emailed my contact at Porsche and asked them if I could borrow the Macan over the weekend. Turns out there was a two months waiting period since the Macan was fully booked every weekend. So, I put my name on the list and waited and waited until I got the call last week telling me to pass by and pick up the car.

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When I first sat inside the Macan the first thing I realized was how much smaller it was than I had expected it to be. It was pretty compact and felt more like a large hatchback instead of a small SUV. The second thing I noticed was all the buttons going down the center console. I love buttons, but the amount of buttons going down the center of the Macan was just intimidating. I drove off the lot and headed onto the highway and thats when things started getting pretty impressive. Because the Macan is a pretty small and low car, it handles and feels like a small sports car. The engine is a 340HP V6 twin-turbo which is more than enough to get you some speeding tickets. The car is pretty fast… and extremely extremely quiet. Probably too quiet because when you’re on the highway its very difficult to tell how fast you’re going unless you’re constantly looking at your speedometer. You can’t hear anything, not the engine noise, wind noise or even road noise. Porsche did an amazing job with the sound isolation.

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Speaking of sound, the Macan I drove came with the optional Bose sound system. I am generally not a fan of Bose sound systems and if I hadn’t heard it I would have recommend to shell out KD1,370 for the optional Burmester sound system when buying the car. But, after spending a weekend with the Bose sound system I have to say I was impressed and it’s just a KD340 option. At low volumes the Bose can be a bit boomy but it’s very capable at high volumes and I was listening to a variety of music from electronic to indie. The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) which is the cars stereo was also very practical. Its a touch screen which makes getting to controls quick and it’s also iPhone compatible. I was able to stream music either via USB located in the center console storage compartment or via bluetooth.

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It was getting close to the golden hour so I decided to head out into the desert to take some photos of the car. The Macan is an all wheel drive car that comes off-road ready, there’s even a button marked “OFF-ROAD” which when pressed will adjust the cars various settings including ride height and traction settings in preparation for an off-road trail. I didn’t venture much off the tarmac since I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere but the little I did go off-road, the Macan handled well. But, it was mostly soft sand and nothing too deep to really test the car out in.

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Later that day I picked up some friends and headed out to dinner. Although the Macan is a 4-door car, the rear passengers don’t have much legroom. It’s a pretty tight space and even getting in and out of the rear seats isn’t very graceful. But, no one really complained or asked for the front seats to be pushed forward so that’s a good thing. It probably has to do with the fact it’s a Porsche and looks like a sports car so people don’t expect much legroom in the first place. The roof height on the other hand was perfectly fine even with the optional panorama roof which my car had.

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Once the weekend was over and I gave back the car did I realize how practical of a car the Macan was. I’ve been considering getting a sports car for some time now, a car that would compliment my current FJ Cruiser. The Macan though is two cars in one, it drives like a sports car but has the flexibility of an SUV albeit not the same full capabilities as either one. It’s an all round car, a crossover and one that works really well. Price wise the Macan is pretty reasonable starting at around KD20,000 for the S model and KD28,000 for the Turbo. I custom built a Macan S on the Porsche Kuwait website and pimped it out with all the options I wanted and ended up with a model thats around KD24,000 before the discount. Unlike in some other countries, many of the optional features come standard in Kuwait so even if you go for the base model, you’re still getting a lot of car. My color recommendation? Agate Grey for the exterior with the Monochrome Black exterior package and black leather sport seats for the interior.


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Review: The Southern

Posted by Mark

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Near the end of last year a friend of mine told me about a new restaurant that was opening called The Southern. I checked out their Facebook page and started following them, waiting for the day they would announce their opening. That day finally came last week so I headed out to Mahboulah to try them out.

The Southern is a small restaurant owned by a Kuwaiti couple and focuses on Southern (American) classic dishes. Both mums of the couple are American with one mum originally from North Carolina and the other from Kentucky so most of the dishes served at The Southern are based on recipes taken from their mums. The fact that their head chef is American also helps keep everything as authentic as possible. The interior of the restaurant is designed by the very talented Lab100 design studio, the same studio behind the design of Ubon and Rio. I loved everything about the way it looked and once the weather gets cooler they will even have outdoor seating.

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When I arrived to the restaurant the waitress told me I was their first lunch time customer. They had soft launched a week earlier with just dinner and they had just started opening for lunch on the day I passed by. I always prefer having lunch at a restaurant I’m reviewing just for the simple fact the photos always come out better. Their menu isn’t very big with just 3 starters, 5 main courses and 3 desserts. Since I was alone I decided to skip the starters and instead have 3 main courses and a dessert. I ended up ordering the following:

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Bayou Fried Shrimps KD3.75
Spicy Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders KD2.95
Sloppy Joe Sliders KD2.8
Southern Biscuits (side dish) KD0.750
Baked Mashed Potatoes (side dish) KD0.750
Soft Drink KD0.500

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The first thing that arrived was the Bayou fried shrimps. I found the dish unexciting both in presentation and flavor. It was good but it just wasn’t special, it was too similar to regular breaded shrimp I could have anywhere else because there were no new flavors in it for me to explore. The portion was also small and it would make more sense having it as a starter than a main. After the fried shrimps things took a giant leap forward. The next dish that arrived was the pulled bbq chicken sliders and I fell in love. It was delicious and full of flavor, even the buns were perfect and I was just starting to think to myself how I would come back for it when they brought over the sloppy joe sliders.

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Their sloppy joe sliders were ridiculously good. Right after taking the first bite I took my beloved pulled chicken sliders dish and put it across from me on the other side of the table. Even though I had ordered three main courses I knew right away that it would be the sloppy joe sliders that I would fully consume. It was the third main course I was having but it was so good I couldn’t stop eating it (obviously I wasn’t dieting that day). Once I was done I ordered the fried blueberry pie which I just realized they didn’t charge me for (it’s KD1.750). I was having a hard time deciding between the peach cobbler and the pie but ended up going with the pie because I was looking for something sweeter. The pie took around 10 minutes to prepare and it came hot with ice cream on the side. It was pretty light and crispy but I was also curious to try their cobbler and if I wasn’t so full already I would have ordered that as well.

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Overall I had a great experience and I would go back again for sure (on a cheat day). The only negative feedback I have is with the waitress who had trouble answering some of my questions regarding some of the dishes. But, they had only been open for a week so that kinda makes it ok I guess plus she was friendly and bubbly which is always more important. Their regular timings are from 11AM to 11PM but in Ramadan they’re open from 6.30pm to 8pm and then again from 11pm to 3am. They also have a set menu for Ramadan which is KD9 per person if you prefer that. For more information including their location, check out their page on [Facebook]


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The Garmin Virb Elite

Posted by Mark

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I’ve never been a fan of the GoPro cameras so that’s why when I wanted to get an action camera a couple of years ago I ended up getting the Contour+ instead, it had some exciting features the Contour lacked as well as a slicker form factor. But, that wasn’t enough to overthrow GoPro since two years later, GoPro is still here while Contour collapsed last year due to financial difficulties. Now it’s Garmin’s turn to try and take on the GoPro with the new Virb action camera. Garmin are known for their navigation devices and this is their first attempt at an action camera so the local dealer in Kuwait passed me one to review.

I’ve had the camera now for around two months and I think I’ve got a clear idea of what I think about it. I’ve used it to record my bike trips, I’ve used it off roading in Lebanon and I’ve even tried using it as a dash cam. Generally I like the camera, it’s not perfect but it has some cool features that might make some people choose it over the more popular GoPros.

The biggest feature I think that will win people over is the durable water resistant rubber shell. The camera feels very well built and can take abuse which is why I wasn’t afraid of dropping it. Actually during this one trip the camera flew off my ATV while speeding on a rocky mountain trail. Not a scratch, not even on the lens. But even if I did scratch the lens it’s a cheap $20 part I could replace myself. Garmin wants me to put this camera in risky situations not be worried about damaging it and I love that.

Another great feature is the fact the camera has a large color LCD screen which you could use to help you frame your shots, for playback or to adjust any of the settings. The camera also has a large record toggle button similar to the one I used to have on my Contour camera which means I can turn on the camera and start recording by just moving the switch forward. Specs wise the camera can shoot 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps and for extra slow mo, WVGA at 120fps. It also has GPS, wifi, bluetooth and even ANT+ so you could connect it to your heart rate monitor or other ANT+ device and overlay that information onto your video.


[YouTube]

I think the biggest issue with the Virb is the weight of the camera. Because the camera is built like a tank it’s heavier than the GoPro and that might turn some people off. Also the majority of the footage I shot was coming out slightly underexposed and desaturated as you can see in the short video above. Finally the color of the device turned out to be problematic. The Virb I received for testing was white but after having it for a couple of months now and the abuse its taken from me the white now has a bit of a brown tint where it fell into the dirt and I had difficulty restoring it. Getting the black version would be the easy fix here.

The majority of the people interested in an action camera will most likely get the GoPro because thats the one everyone gets. But, that doesn’t mean it would be the best option for you. If you’re looking for a camera that can take some abuse or a camera in which you could overlay data onto your video like the speed you’re traveling or your heart rate, then you should consider checking out the Virb. The price of the Garmin starts at KD85 for the normal Virb or KD109 for the Virb Elite which is the one I tested.


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A’s Chicken

Posted by Mark

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I’m always on the look out for new places where I could pick up a healthy meal from and since trying A’s Chicken last week its now one of those places I’ll be frequenting often. I’ve already had them three times so far and even though their menu is super small that’s really not an issue. How small? They basically have only three main items, grilled chicken (1/2 or whole), grilled taouk and a chicken wrap.

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I’ve only had their taouk (which is grilled chicken cubes) and I always request it to be spicy. It comes with french fries, a not very garlicky garlic sauce (thats a good thing),a soft drink and costs KD2. The french fries obviously isn’t healthy so if you can’t resist them just tell them not to include it. The reason I like them other than the fact the spicy chicken taouk is delicious is because whenever I’m in the city and need a quick meal I can just pass by them and pick up my taouk. The only downside is the fact that you need to call 30 minutes ahead so it’s not fast food. Also I wonder if they can replace the fries with a bit of salad? I’m already swapping the soft drink with a bottle of water so if they can swap the fries with salad that would make this an even better meal. I need to check this next time I place an order.

A’s Chicken is located in Kuwait City in an alleyway next to Solo Pizza and behind Solo Tacos. They don’t have dine in just takeaway and delivery so if you want some grilled protein you can call them on 22412124 or find them on talabat.


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The Blendtec Q-Series Blender

Posted by Mark

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Recently I went on a blender hunt since I wanted to replace my Philips blender which started to struggle making my smoothies. I started checking out the two best blender brands, VitaMix and Blendtec. Just like the great SNES vs Genesis battle there is a similar one between VitaMix and Blendtec. You have to choose sides, it’s either VitaMix or Blendtec and you can’t have both. Both brands have excellent blenders and no matter which one you choose you can’t go wrong. After watching countless videos on YouTube of people comparing the two blenders and basically just watching people blend stuff, I came to the conclusion that both blend extremely well but I was choosing Blendtec. Why?

- I liked the way Blendtec blenders looked like compared to the VitaMix blenders. Looks aren’t everything but if I was going to spend so much on a blender and bond with it then I wanted to like everything about it including looks. For people with low kitchen cabinets the VitaMix might not fit underneath because the VitaMix jars are tall and thin while the Blendtec jars are wide and short. The Blendtec blenders also look like modern kitchen appliances while the VitaMix have an old school look which is probably why they’re so popular with hipsters.

- I’m a huge a fan of the Blendtec informercial series “Will it blend?“. In the show the company founder tries to blend random objects in their blenders and he’s blended everything from iPhones and iPads to glow sticks and McDonalds meals. If it can blend an iPhone, it can blend my smoothie.

- The local Blendtec dealer is Mabrook, the same dealer as KitchenAid and I’m already a customer there.

There really weren’t that many models to choose from at the VitaMix and Blendtec dealers and both of them carried only the business range. The Blendtec dealer had only three models, the Blendtec Xpress, the Q-Series which was their midrange unit and the Chef which was their top of the line model. I ended up going with the Q-Series because I loved the size of the unit, the way it looked and the soundproofing features. The fact that Starbucks also uses the same blender didn’t hurt either.

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The blender came in a huge unmarked brown box with just a small label on the side describing the contents. Inside the large box was the blender, two jars, some manuals and a CD. Setting up the blender was as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. It works right out of the box just like a regular blender. The “Q” in the “Q-Series” stands for quiet since the unit has sound proofing inside the case around the motor as well as a noise preventing cover that closes down over your jar. It’s meant for coffee shops and juice bars where they have to keep the noise level down as low as possible so as not to annoy the customers. The controls are fairly basic at first glance, 6 touch buttons on the top and a large power switch on the front but the 6 buttons on top are all customizable and programmable. The blender has 9 blending speeds and 30 pre-programmed blend cycles. Using the supplied “Cycle Chart” you can set up any of the 30 available pre-sets to any of the buttons on the blender and if there is a specific custom cycle you want you can take the blender to the dealer and they will program it into the blender.

I use one of the factory set smoothie cycles that is just 23 seconds long and consists of the following cycle: Starts off at speed 3 then goes to 5,1,3,5,3,6 and finally ends at speed 7. During the blending process the units LCD display will show you what speed the blender is on and how many seconds left for the blending process to be completed. The same blue LCD screen also displays a smoothie counter, kinda like how your car has the odometer, the Blendtec blender has a lifetime counter. As of this post I have made 95 smoothies in the two weeks I’ve had my blender.

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There is literally nothing this blender can’t blend and no matter what I’ve thrown at it the blender has never even given the slightest sign of a struggle. My Q-Series blender has a 3.8hp motor and I haven’t used anything higher than a speed 7 even though it goes up to speed 9. I really didn’t realize how much my older blender used to struggle when making smoothies until I tried it again a week after getting my Blendtec. Not only did my old blender struggle but it also used to take around a minute to blend a smoothie. On the other hand I had a smoothie party last week and I was blending smoothies left and right flipping between two jars like a pro and blending nearly 3 smoothies a minute. I love this blender.

There are some downsides though. First is the fact the blender came with the regular 4-side jars and not the newer 5-side WildSide+ jar which is supposed to blend even quicker. The other negative is the fact the lid of the jar leaks when I clean the jar. To clean the jar all you do is fill it up with a bit of water and add a drop of soap. You then mount the jar on the the blender and use the “Pulse” button until the jar is clean. Only issue is unless I’m really holding down on the lid really hard it ends up leaking water from the top. I haven’t had any issue when blending my smoothies just when cleaning the jar but still, it’s annoying to have to keep wiping my blender down after cleaning a jar. The last issue is the price.

Before I mention the price I have to say, this blender is not for everyone in the same way Subzero fridges and Viking ranges aren’t for everyone. If you want a really good blender at a great price then I highly recommend the Philips which I previously had. But the Blendtec is one of the best blenders you can buy period and it’s commercial grade which is why it costs a staggering KD375. Even the Blendtec Xpress which is the entry level blender at the local dealer is still KD193. But good blenders cost a lot of money and it’s not just Blendtec or blenders, commercial grade appliances be it a fridge or a toaster will cost considerably more than regular plastic appliances. The VitaMix blenders I checked out locally were expensive as well with their entry level Drink Machine Two-Speed going for KD260 while their Vita Prep 3 is for KD359.

I love my blender.


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Finger Sushi – 24 Hour Sushi in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

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A couple of days back I had just finished having lunch at Salhiya and as I was leaving the area by car I spotted the Finger Sushi sign on one of the buildings. I hadn’t noticed the sign before and since I was driving I made my friend note down Finger Sushi on my phone so I could check it out later once I got back home. That same evening around 1AM while watching the movie Non-Stop, I came across the note Finger Sushi on my phone and decided to see if they had a website or instagram account I could check out. I ended up finding both and right away what caught my attention was the fact that they’re open 24 hours a day. Me and my friends always have a hard time finding a place that isn’t McDonalds that is open after midnight and a 24 hour sushi place is exactly what we’d want late at night. So I paused the movie and gave them a call just to confirm that their dine-in is open 24 hours and not just the delivery and the guy on the other end of the line said I could come by any time of day and eat. So I decided once the movie was over I would head to Finger Sushi and try it out.

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It was just after 2AM when I left my house and headed into the city. I put some Chet Baker on and took the scenic route arriving at the restaurant around 2:20AM and obviously, I was the only one there. There menu is very basic with just 7 makis, some salads and a handful of side dishes. By 7 makis I actually mean one kind of maki but you get to choose if you want it salmon, crab, shrimp, tuna, chicken, meat or vegetable. I decided to go with the salmon maki and asked them to make it spicy, the chef recommended I choose the red colored rice if I wanted it spicy but I decided to stick with white for the salmon and ordered another spicy crab maki with the red rice. I asked the chef what the sweet salmon salad was and he told me it was similar to the popular salmon avocado salad except with a different sauce. I ended up going with that as well and a side order of edamame. The cashier asked me if I wanted chopsticks which I replied yes to and he then asked me if I wanted soya sauce which I also said yes to. Turns out both are chargeable items costing 100fils each.

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While waiting for my order to get ready I took some photos of the place trying my best to make it look cooler than it actually is and while I was admiring my handiwork, the waiter calls me up and hands me over a tray with my order. All the items I had ordered were nicely packaged so I took a group photo and then opened the packages for one more round of photos before I proceeded to munch away on the food.

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I started off with the edamame which is impossible to go wrong with and once I was done with the edamame I started on the sweet salmon salad. This honestly was the worst thing I ordered and I have no idea why the chef would even compare it to a salmon avocado salad at other restaurants since its nothing like it. The salad was mostly lettuce with four or five small cooked and dry pieces of salmon covered with Lays chips. Not even the sauce could rescue the salad from disaster so save yourself the disappointment and skip the salads all together. Once I put the salad aside I started on the makis.

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According to the chef all their makis plates come as six pieces with each two pieces having a different sauce on top. I’m sure you could stick to one sauce if you want to but for your first time you’d probably want to have the three different sauces so you could get an idea of what they all taste like. The makis also all come covered with crispy tempura. I personally wanted to order my maki without the sauces and the crispy tempura but since I was going to write about the place I decided to keep everything as it was. All three sauces tasted fairly similar and they were strong enough to overpower the flavor of the whole maki. It didn’t matter if there was crab or salmon inside I couldn’t tell the difference. On the other hand the red rice gave it an interesting flavor since its prepared using rose water.

Overall it was pretty much what I was expecting from a 24 hour fast food sushi place along with a bill that fit the experience:

6 Piece Salmon Maki – KD1.200
6 Piece Crab Maki – KD1.200
Sweet Salmon Salad – KD1.000
Edamame – KD0.750
Soya Sauce – KD0.100
Chopsticks – KD0.100

Total: KD4.350

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It’s the perfect place for late night munchies and I would go back again with my friends when every other place is closed. But, I would save my money and avoid the salad next time as well as having the makis without the crispy tempura or the sauces. Finger Sushi is located in the same building as Opera Cakes and Sahara Hotel which is on your left hand side once you leave the Salhiya area [Map]. They’ve been open for just over a week now and you can find them on instagram @fingersushi or online at fingersushi.com.


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Four Seasons Hotel – Cairo at Nile Plaza

Posted by Mark

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A couple of weeks ago I went to Cairo for a friends wedding and since the wedding was taking place at the Four Seasons, me and my friends all ended up staying at the same hotel as well. I hadn’t been to Cairo since back in 2008 when I went down to film the Wataniya Airways launch commercial and back then I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel which I really didn’t like. The Four Seasons is literally across the street from where I stayed last time but the experience this time around was worlds apart.

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The last time I was in Cairo the city was full of tourists but this time there were barely any. Even when we went to touristic places like Khan Al-Khalili and the Pyramids we barely saw any tourists and the hotels are obviously affected by this. When we were at Four Seasons the hotel was mostly occupied by people attending our wedding and people attending another wedding that was also taking place there and from what a friend told me, the prices the hotel was charging for the rooms was around 40% less than they used to charge when the city was bustling with tourists. I ended up staying in the Diplomatic Suite which turned out to be a lot larger than I was expecting it to be. When you first walk into the room you have a small hallway with a guest bathroom and a small closet. Right after the hallway is the main living space with a large LCD screen, a couch which unfolds into a sofa bed, a work area and a large terrace overlooking the Nile. At the far end of the room is a doorway that leads you into the bedroom where theres a second large LCD screen, a huge walk-in closet and a large marble clad bathroom with two sinks. I think this was pretty much the largest room I had ever stayed in at a hotel.

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The hotel as a whole felt a lot like a cruise ship and some of my friends treated it that way by not leaving the hotel the whole weekend we were there. Other than the restaurants and the pool, the hotel also had a bar, a club and a department store all located on premises. The pool area is where we spent all our mornings tanning and recovering from the night before by relaxing on their really comfortable lounges. The only downside to the pool area and actually one of the only issues I had with the hotel is the fact by 12:30PM the sun ends up behind the hotel casting a shadow over the pool area and basically putting a stop to any tanning that was taking place.

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On the plus side I didn’t get any food poisoning while I was there. Before leaving to Cairo everyone was warning me about how easy it was to get food poisoned and not to have any salads or drinks with ice so by the time I got to Cairo I was planning on not eating for the whole trip. In the end hunger won and I spent most of the weekend having the hotel burger for brunch and then mixing it up with dinner either by eating at the hotel or somewhere around Cairo. The location of the hotel was pretty great since it was right on the Nile which meant the view from my room was spectacular. The staff were all really friendly and professional and you really don’t feel like you’re in Egypt when you’re inside the hotel. A good example on how good the staff is, on the last day after checking out we were waiting outside the hotel for our rides when the doorman noticed one of the girls with us was holding a pair of shoes in her hand. Without her asking he went and got her a paper bag and placed the shoes inside for her. That earned the hotel a lot of points in my book.

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Overall I had a great weekend in Cairo and the hotel was part of the reason why. This is the third or fourth Four Seasons Hotel I’ve stayed in and so far they’ve all turned out to be pretty great. There are two Four Seasons in Cairo, the one I stayed in was the Nile Plaza one (not the one with the casino) and you can check out their website [Here]


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Review: Urban Cafe

Posted by Patrick

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Post by Patrick

I’ve been wanting to try out Urban Cafe ever since I found their Instagram account which has a lot of good looking photos of the food they serve. I finally passed by earlier in the week to try it out and had a fairly pleasant experience. I went in the evening with a friend and the place was fairly packed. The weather was pleasant so there weren’t any places to sit outside and so we ended up inside. Sitting inside wasn’t a bad thing because the place is bright and seating is comfortable although I did find the music to be a bit too loud.

Urban Food

We ended up ordering the Baked Portobello and the Quinoa Salad for starters and the Wild Mushroom & Truffle Pizza and Basil Pesto Fusilli for our main course. What I found disappointing about the menu itself was that there aren’t many choices if you don’t want a sandwich. The Quinoa Salad arrived first and I thought it was okay. I found it weird that they mixed in large pieces of lettuce since this made the salad slightly awkward to eat but I did think the addition of rocca leaves was a nice touch. The Baked Portobello which comes stuffed with mozzarella cheese and mushroom was pretty good and flavorful and once we were done with the starters the pizza and pasta both arrived around the same time. The pizza looked and smelled really good and it tasted similar to the mushroom pizza at OFK which I also like. On the other-hand the pesto fusilli was a bit too creamy and a little boring. There was an option to add grilled chicken to it, so maybe that would have made some difference.

Bread Pudding

After we were done with our main course we decided to try out the bread pudding with Nutella for dessert. It took long for the bread pudding to come out and when I finally asked for it, it was obvious they had forgotten that we ordered any dessert. The waiters were pretty apologetic about it and the bread pudding got to our table pretty quick after that. I didn’t think the bread pudding was that good, and I’m a big fan of Nutella. There was just too much Nutella and it ended up feeling too heavy on the stomach. On the other hand, my friend really enjoyed it and said they would order it again. Urban Cafe isn’t short on desserts though and they had quite a few cakes on display besides the various dessert items available in the menu.

Even though I wasn’t a big fan of the pasta or the dessert I would be interested in trying the other items on the menu like the Barbequed Beef Brisket and their breakfast which they serve until 2PM. I found their prices to be pretty reasonable, the mushroom & truffle pizza was KD3 while the pesto fusilli was KD2.500. One thing that might be an issue is parking. When I went in the evening I was able to find a spot behind the cafe in a small sandlot, but I would imagine that during the day time it might be difficult to find parking in the area. If you’re interested in Urban Cafe they’re located in Sharq, you can find their location on Google Maps.

Post by Patrick


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Review: Udupi Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Posted by Mark

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Udupi is a popular Indian restaurant with a few branches located around Kuwait. I recently found out there was one that was fairly close to my home in Salmiya so I ended up passing by there with a friend for dinner. Even though we went mid week the place was packed and we had to wait for a table to free up. It’s a hole in the wall place with two different seating areas, you have the main area where the entrance is and which also has a large window overlooking the busy kitchen, and then another seating area in the back which I personally think is claustrophobic since there are no windows.

The menu is vegetarian based and and made up mostly of South Indian dishes like Vada, Upma, Dosas and Thalis along with a few rice dishes. We ended up ordering a bunch of things including the Thali (which is unlimited refill) but what had to stick out the most for me was the Gobi Manchurian, a fried cauliflower dish which tasted more Chinese than Indian. It was delicious and I’m not even a cauliflower fan.

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The waiters don’t really speak English and the menu is just a list of items with their prices so your best bet when ordering is:

1) to go there with someone who knows what everything is
2) use google to try and figure out what everything is
3) order by looking around the restaurant and point at peoples dishes
4) Russian roulette, just choose items off the menu without knowing what you’re ordering

tea

One thing I’m curious about and maybe someone here can answer has to do with the tea. The tea comes in a steel cup with a steel bowl and everybody at the place was using the two to drink the tea. They would pour the tea from the cup into the bowl and then back into the cup and they kept doing that over and over as they were drinking. I figured this was either to keep mixing the tea or it was a way to cool it down.

The place if very affordable with the most expensive dish on the menu being a special Thali which is only available on Fridays and costs KD1.5. In comparison, a regular Thali is just KD1 while the Vada is 300fils, Gobi Manchurian 900fils and a plain Dosa just 550fils. Other than the Gobi Manchurian, everything else I had I thought Saravanaa Bhavan did better. But Udupi is a lot cheaper and it’s also basically walking distance from my house which makes it much more convenient for me. The Udupi I went to was in Salmiya [Map] but as I mentioned earlier they have a bunch of locations around Kuwait and you can check out the full list [Here]. Definitely worth checking out.


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The Ferrari 458 Spider

Posted by Mark

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First I need to make a confession, I haven’t been in a Ferrari since my dad had one back in the mid 80s. It was a gorgeous silver Ferrari 308 but I was too young to appreciate the car back then, I just remember it was loud and it looked like the one on Magnum P.I. Strangely I hadn’t been in a Ferrari ever since which is weird because Ferraris are pretty common in Kuwait. A few months ago when I went to test drive the Jaguar F-Type I found out the same dealer (Zayani) had a Ferrari 458 Spider to test drive as well. I started harassing them to loan me the car for the weekend to test drive until last week I finally got the phone call telling me I could pass by and pick up the car but I would have it only from 10AM to 5PM. After a bit of negotiation I was able to extend that from 9AM to 7PM. It wasn’t the weekend I had wanted, but a full day with the Spider was still going to be a great day.

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Sunday morning I got up early and headed to the dealership where after giving me a short tour of the showroom I was taken to the car which was waiting for me in a large pristine white room. The car was in silver blue (Grigio Alloy) fitted with a custom two tone leather and suede interior. I got in the car and the salesman showed me where everything was and how to work them. It’s not complicated to say, it’s just that majority of the options are not in their usual place (spoiler: they’re all on the steering wheel). For example, the turn signals are located on the steering wheel as well as the wipers, high beam switch, the cars start/stop button, the “bumpy road” button, the horn and most importantly the Manettino dial which allows you to control the cars settings with a flick of a switch. I’m not sure why they haven’t adapted this idea to all cars yet but after spending a day with the 458 I started wishing all my FJ’s controls were on the steering wheel, it just makes a lot more sense than having all these nobs spread out behind it.

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Once he was done showing me all the controls we drove out of the dealership for a ride around the block just so I could get a feel for the car before heading out. I then dropped him back off to the dealership and headed out on my own… without a chaperon. There I was sitting in a brand new Ferrari 458 Spider all on my own, free to do with it whatever I pleased. First thing I did was send the mandatory snapchat to my friends and then I decided to head out to the desert where I had previously shot the Porsche Cayman. I figured the roads would be empty there and I wanted to get rid of the photography so I could enjoy the car the rest of the day.

Driving the car was a lot easier than I was expecting it to be even though the car produces 570hp out of its mid-mounted naturally-aspirated 4.5l V8 engine. I spent the first 20 minutes of the drive keeping my eye out on the speedometer since the car just wanted to speed and in the end I couldn’t resist the urge not to and just gave up and started keeping my eye out for cops and speed traps instead. When I finally got to my destination I realized it might not have been the best day to be out in the open desert since there was a pretty nasty dusty storm. But since it took me 40 minutes to get there I was not going to turn back now and kept on going even though at some points I could barely see the road because it was covered with sand. Finally I arrived to the location and got out of the car to snap my photos. It was really windy and I ended up getting sand in every crevice of my body but I also ended up with two fantastic photos especially once I converted them to black and white. I packed up my gear and headed back to the city but not before making a quick stop at home to shower and change.

As I mentioned the car is really easy to drive and can actually be very civil if you keep it in sport mode (Ferrari’s version of “comfort”) and aren’t heavy on the peddle. On the other hand if you’re a hooligan you’re also gonna love this car. Once I was back in the city I realized I could still have a lot of fun without breaking any laws (kinda) just by accelerating at full speed out of traffic lights, drifting slightly around corners and roundabouts and down shifting to second gear when going under bridges. Actually by switching the cars gearbox from auto to manual made a world of a difference because I could keep the gears low and have the car scream its beautiful loud Ferrari tones without even trying. But the car isn’t loud unless you want it to be and the interior can be pretty quiet while cruising at normal speeds. Speaking of the interior I was pretty surprised at how spacious it was. I LOVE the center console layout, it’s basically non existent with just AC controls and nothing else. In an age where center consoles are filled with large screens and buttons beyond buttons, it was great to see they kept the interior to a bare minimum.

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What differentiates the Ferrari 458 Spider from the regular Ferrari 458 is the fact it’s a hard top convertible. With just a press of the button the roof folds away into the trunk and thats what I did once the sun started setting. Driving the car with the roof down is a whole different experiencing, if you really want to hear the engine sound that’s the best way of experiencing it. As the sun set I knew I would have to drive the car back to the dealer and I think it was the first time where I was both happy and sad to return a car. I was sad because I was obviously returning the Ferrari but also happy because at the end of the day I was driving an KD80,000 Ferrari and I was just relieved to be handing it back in one piece.

So what didn’t I like about the car? Not a lot honestly. The trunk is practically non existent if you opt to have a spare tire, like you might be able to fit one or two grocery bags there and thats it. The sound system also wouldn’t let me stream music over bluetooth which sucks although it did have iPod connectivity via USB. Finally I thought the gas pedal was too close to the brake pedal and so my sneakers kept getting clipped every time I was moving from one pedal to the other to the point I thought my sneakers might get ruined. But by the end of the day I got used to it and just shifted my foot far right so that wouldn’t keep happening. Even though I wasn’t expecting the car to be a disappointment it did surprise me in a lot of ways. I wasn’t expecting it to be such a drivable car and one which could be so civil. I didn’t even have issues going over speed bumps or parallel parking (thank you rear view camera) so I could totally drive this car every day if Ferrari agree on that 90% discount I asked for (pretty please).

The Ferrari 458 Spider starts at KD81,900 and is available at the dealers Zayani.


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