MOODs Hotel – Prague

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I had a spontaneous trip to Prague and had like 30 minutes to book an airline ticket and hotel and I have to say I lucked out with my hotel. I ended up staying at MOODs Hotel which is a pretty trendy boutique hotel located around 15 minutes walking distance from the old Prague town and markets.

I had booked a superior room for 3 nights but on arrival I found out I had been upgraded to a deluxe room. Most likely it’s because I had booked less than 24 hours before arrival and so my first night stay was costing more than the other two nights combined. When I first got to the hotel I was really impressed with the way the lobby looked. They had some interesting textured walls, modern furniture and a trippy light show going on with their logo. The hotel receptionist were also young and sitting behind shiny iMacs so the hotel felt very stylish right from the get go.

My room was pretty spacious with lots of closet space, dark hardwood floors, a very cool looking bathroom as well as an LED mood light system running behind my bed which I could control the color and intensity of. I also had access to free fast wifi, a pretty good breakfast buffet and best of all they hooked me up with a great driver to take me to and from the ski slopes.

If you’re planning a trip to Prague then I’d recommend this place. If I ever go back I would stay there again without a doubt. They even have duplex suite for not that much more per night. Here is a link to their [Website]


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Quick Hotel Reviews (Amsterdam and Paris)

Post by Mark

Over the holidays I stayed in two different hotels in two different cities and I had really good experiences with both of them. If you’re planning to go to Amsterdam or Paris I would recommend you check these two out:

Le Citizen Hotel – Paris
I took the train from Amsterdam to Paris and the hotel was around a 15 minute walk from the Gare du Nord station. At first I thought the hotel was going to be far away from everything but it turned out to be close to the Metro and walking distance to many popular places (by walking distance I mean 30 to 60 minute walks). The hotel overlooks a canal and so doesn’t have any buildings blocking the views from the window. I stayed in the Zen room which was really spacious and super trendy with a colorful lounge like area, a large bathroom and a beautiful bed. I didn’t wanted to leave the room. The wifi at the hotel is fast and free and the staff were very friendly. The next time I go back to Paris I’m definitely staying at this hotel again. [Link]

Albus Hotel – Amsterdam
Although my room at the Albus wasn’t as great looking as Le Citizen it was still modern and trendy. What I really loved about the hotel though was the location. The hotel is a 30 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal or a 10 minute tram ride. You’re also close to a lot of popular hotspots in Amsterdam and no matter where I went, all the roads somehow led back to the hotel. In case of late night munchies there is a McDonalds and a Chipsy King 2 minutes away from the hotel. The hotel staff were friendly and the internet is free but… only at the slow 256K speed. If you want faster internet you need to pay for it. I’d most likely stay at this hotel again on my next trip, great location and not very pricey. [Link]


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My first Michelin dining experience: Parkheuvel

Post by Mark

I’ve never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant so when I found out there was a restaurant with two Michelin stars in Rotterdam, I decided to to try it out. The restaurant is called Parkheuvel and at one point had three Michelin stars before losing two stars and then gaining one back again. I was worried I wouldn’t find a table available since I booked the night before but I did find one and to my surprise the restaurant was actually empty when I was there for lunch.

I decided to go with the fixed 5 course menu option since I wanted to try as many dishes as I could. Below are the dishes I was served with their descriptions written underneath it. Of course when they presented the dishes to me they explained it in a much more elaborate way:


Green pea soup with sausage foam. The soup is inside the crunchy sphere.


Lobster, crab and goose liver.


Lightly simmered scallops with cauliflower and hazelnuts.


Grilled turbot with risotto.


The main course: Lamb with artichoke and potato stuffed with something.


Dessert, golden pearl of white chocolate filled with blood orange and a side of lemon icecream.

When I got the soup I thought it was funny at first but then I appreciated the fact that the soup didn’t look like soup since it made it different than any other soup I’ve had before. I thought the scallops and the grilled turbot dishes were incredible, lots of flavor and like nothing I had tasted before. I actually liked the risotto that came with the turbot more than the turbot itself and I’m not a big risotto fan. Everything else was also good but nothing really stood out like the scallops and the turbot.

The portions as you can see were pretty small making it more a tasting experience than a dining one. The service at the restaurant was the best I had ever experienced with very friendly and extremely knowledgable staff. Price wise the 5 course meal cost 110 euros (around KD40) which I think is very reasonable considering it’s a two Michelin star restaurant. The experience overall was well worth it and has made Michelin star restaurants more approachable and less intimidating to me. I always had the impression you would have to pay an arm and a leg to dine at one and that you would never be able to find a table. Now I know that’s not always the case.


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Review: Phuket Thai Restaurant

Post by Mark

Phuket Thai was a restaurant that came highly recommended by a few of my readers. It’s a small place in Salmiya and it’s actually pretty near to where I live. I was actually a bit concerned that if the place did turn out to be great I’d end up eating there all the time and gaining weight. Turns out that’s not going to happen.

First impression as I walked in wasn’t that great since The interior looked gloomy and old. Me and my friend sat down and waited for someone to hand us the menus but no one did. There was one woman in the restaurant behind the cashier but she was busy talking on the phone. Finally a guy came down from upstairs and noticed us sitting and gave us the menus. There are two menus, one with photos and numbers and the other with numbers and descriptions. You flip through the photos menu and if you find a dish that looks interesting you get the number and then flip through the other menu to find out what it is. Not very practical but we ended up ordering the following:

Tom Yam Soup (Seafood) KD1.750
Tom Kha Soup (Seafood) KD1.750
Fried Wonton (Shrimp) KD1.500
Prawns on Toast KD1.750
Pad Thai Fried Noodles KD1.500
Steamed White Rice KD0.500
Sweet & Sour Shrimp KD1.750
Panang Curry (Beef) KD2.000

We started off with the soups which were pretty good with lots of seafood inside (although the crab was literally cut up and thrown in there with shell and all). The starters followed soon after but they were pretty disappointing. The fried wontons were super greasy while the prawns on toast were the most disappointing prawns on toast I’ve had so far. The toast was burnt and there was just too much sesame seed on top. Once the main courses arrived things picked up again but just slightly. The Pad Thai was really greasy and the sweet & sour shrimp was bland although to be fair, it’s a Chinese dish and my friend shouldn’t have ordered it in the first place. The beef curry on the other hand was pretty good and if I was to go back I’d order it again.

Finally when it came time to pay the bill we found out they didn’t accept Knet. I looked everywhere for a sign that says they didn’t accept Knet but couldn’t find any. At Thai Chow for example they have a large paper plastered on the entrance door saying they didn’t accept Knet. That way you can go to an ATM machine before having lunch. Since Phuket kept the no Knet fact a secret it created a bit of awkwardness since I had to leave the restaurant and drive to the nearest ATM machine in Salmiya while my friend stayed behind waiting for me. Not very cool.

Overall I was fairly disappointed with the place. Even though it’s seems really popular I just didn’t have a good experience myself. If you’re interested in trying the place out it’s located right behind Dodo and Kout Way on Baghdad street in Salmiya. Their phone number is 25714805. Make sure you have cash.


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Review: Kout Way Restaurant

Post by Mark

Kout Way is a small Kuwaiti fast food restaurant that opened up last summer in Salmiya. I love murabyan (rice with shrimps) but wasn’t really sure what to expect with a “fast food” version of the dish. Turns out it’s pretty much the same.

I really like how Kout Way looks like on the inside. It has a modern and trendy interior with hints of tradition here and there. Like all fast food restaurants it’s self service, you order at the counter and then go sit down and wait for your meal. I of course ordered the murabyan, I had two sizes to choose from regular or small, I ended up going with the regular size. I also ordered cheese sambousa and cucumber yogurt for my sides.

Regular size it was not that’s for sure. The portion was pretty huge and they weren’t stingy with the quantity of shrimps either. At first I thought the shrimps were just on top of the rice but the more I kept digging into the rice the more shrimps I found. It also tasted pretty good specially considering this was a fast food version of the dish. The cheese sambousa on the other hand weren’t that great while the cucumber yogurt, well it’s just cucumber and yogurt so you can’t go wrong with that.

Overall I really like the place and at KD3 for the regular sized murabyan or KD2 for the small it’s pretty decently priced. The restaurant is located on Baghdad Street right next to Dodo [Google Maps]. They also deliver and their number is 94006767.


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Brunch at The Cheesecake Factory

Post by Mark

I passed by The Cheesecake Factory at The Avenues this morning for breakfast. Every Saturday morning from 10AM to 2PM they have a special brunch menu and I was curious to try their pancakes since I had heard they were really good. I ended up ordering two dishes for myself, the Monte Cristo Sandwich and the Buttermilk Pancakes. What is the Monte Cristo? This is the description from their website:

Monte Cristo Sandwich
Crunchy French Toast Stuffed with Bacon, Grilled Ham, Scrambled Eggs and Melted Swiss Cheese Dusted with Powdered Sugar and Served with Strawberry Preserves.

The Monte Cristo was ridiculously good, probably my favorite breakfast dish right now. Their pancakes now are also easily my favorite pancakes in Kuwait. They were really fluffy and light and I had to stop myself from finishing them. Which brings me to a very important problem with this breakfast.

THE CALORIES!

If you’re a calorie counter you’re in for a treat. The Monte Cristo Sandwich is a whopping 1,618 calories while the Buttermilk Pancakes are 1,310 calories. Try to figure out a way to burn those.

Service was so so. Took me a few tries to explain to the waiter I wanted pancakes and even when I pointed at it in the menu he thought I was pointing at another dish. I also told him to bring all the food together but my Monte Cristo came first. Not major issues but still worth noting. The pancakes cost KD3 while the Monte Cristo I think was KD4.250. I highly recommend both dishes and it’s too bad they only serve them on Saturdays. Oh and of course I wish they were both just 500 calories combined instead of being nearly 3,000…


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Review: Thai Chow King Restaurant

Post by Mark

Thai Chow King is a small hole in the wall Thai food restaurant that was recommended to me by one of my readers. It’s a tiny place run by a Thai family. The father who used to work at Sheraton before does the cooking while his wife waits on tables. This little gem of a place has suddenly become my favorite Thai food place.

I passed by for lunch today with a friend and we ended up ordering the following dishes:

Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp KD1.500
Tom Kha Kai Soup with Shrimp KD1.500
Shrimp on Toast KD1.500
Fried Shrimp Wanton KD1.500
Seafood Salad KD1.500
Red Curry Beef KD1.500
Pad Thai with Chicken KD1.250
Mixed Vegetables KD1.250
Chicken with Cashew KD1.500
Steamed Rice KD0.500
Large Water KD0.250

Notice anything with the prices? The most expensive dishes we had cost just KD1.500! This place is such a good deal specially since the food was really good. The curry was delicious, the pad thai was also really good and the chicken with cashew dish was nice and crispy (although had only 2 cashew pieces). Even the shrimp on toast and fried wantons were appetizing and served with great tasting dips.

The restaurant is small with just 5 tables and every dish on the menu has a picture next to it which makes choosing something very easy. I really can’t think of anything to fault about the place. I loved it and how could I not when the food was delicious, filling and our bill came out to just KD13.750.

Thai Chow King is located in Al-Regae and their phone numbers are 24893338 or 66527388. Finding them is easy, here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Review and Giveaway

Post by Mark

A few weeks back the local photography store AAB World provided me with the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 full frame lens to try out. My current collection of lenses that I use with my Nikon D800 are the Nikon 24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8. So at 35mm, the Sigma fit snugly between the 24mm and 50mm lens. Actually a bit too snugly because I stopped using both those lenses while I had the Sigma with me.

The first thing that caught my attention with the Sigma lens was the build quality. The lens is a lot larger than both my prime lenses and due to its all metal casing it felt more durable and a lot more solid. The reason I love prime lenses is because they’re so bright and with an open aperture of f/1.4, this Sigma lens is really bright.

I used the lens frequently during the period I had it with me and the 35mm range proved to be very versatile. The physical size of the lens didn’t bother me much and I actually found the larger lens easier to grip and balance the camera with while shooting. Nikon also have their own 35mm f/1.4 lens but costs around KD470 on Amazon. The Sigma on the other hand is selling for KD240 locally (cheaper than Amazon). That’s nearly half the price for what is basically a very similar lens. The lens is also available for Canon cameras.

If you own a full frame Canon or Nikon camera then you’re in for a treat because AAB World want to give away one of these lenses to my readers. The only requirement needed to win this lens is for you to own a full frame Nikon or Canon camera. To get a chance to win this lens just post the model of your camera in the comments below and I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow night using random.org.

Rules: Only one entry per person and please make sure you use a working email since the winner will be contacted by email. If winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours another winner will be randomly chosen. When collecting the prize you NEED to have your full frame camera with you.

If your camera isn’t one of the following you don’t qualify
Canon – 6D, 1D X, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, 5D, 1Ds Mk III, 1Ds Mk II, 1Ds
Nikon – D3, D3X, D3S, D4, D600, D700, D800

Update: I’ve closed the post for commenting and will be conducting the random draw this weekend.


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Review: Organica Fish & Chips

Post by Mark

Organica Fish & Chips has been open for a couple of years now but I just got to pass by and try it today. I ordered the large fish & chips platter which included 2 pieces of fish along with chips in addition I ordered an extra side order of calamari. I went to the Salmiya branch which has a lot of seating inside but since it was a nice sunny day I decided to sit outside.

While waiting for my meal I got served lemonade which I thought was a nice thing to do. Once my fish & chips basket came I snapped a few pictures before I dug in. I thought the whole basket tasted pretty bland and between the calamari and the fish I think I preferred the calamari. The tartar sauce which I personally believe makes or breaks a meal wasn’t that great either but it did help add some much needed flavor to the meal. On a side note if you want to know what good tartar sauce tastes like go to try it at Sheraton Hotel. Finally the chips were the most disappointing part of the meal, they were undercooked and soft which was a let down.

Overall, even though the fish basket didn’t awestruck me I still think it’s a good place to pass by for a quick bite. It’s not located in a mall, there’s lots of seating, places to park and the food was above average. Price wise the large fish & chips platter goes for KD3.750 (KD2.750 for the small) while the extra calamari cost me an additional KD1.400. They have three locations around Kuwait and if you want to find out more you can visit their website [Here]


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My KitchenAid 6.9L Mixer

Post by Mark

Just before Christmas I decided to get myself a KitchenAid mixer. Originally I wanted to get the regular 4.8L mixer similar to the one I reviewed back in 2011 but it turned out there was a new larger 6.9L KitchenAid mixer and I ended up getting that instead.

I used to think the regular KitchenAid mixer was pretty hardcore but once I saw the 6.9L version the regular one started looking pretty tame. Other than the obvious size difference the other thing that sticks out is the fact with the 6.9L KitchenAid the head doesn’t tilt. Instead, the bowl is locked into place and then lifted up towards the mixer head. Not sure what the advantage of this is but I like it better this way.

Since I got the mixer I’ve baked an apple pie, five different brownies, a cake and muffins. I could have done them all with the regular sized mixer but I realized my mixing is a lot less messier using the 6.9L mixer since with the larger bowl, whatever is inside it tends to stay inside. Also because you can raise or lower the bowl to the mixing head I tend to lower the bowl first before I stop the mixer and that way whatever is stuck on the paddle or whisk gets released into the bowl.

The 6.9L mixer has one major disadvantage over the regular 4.8L KitchenAid mixer and that is the lack of colors. While with the 4.8L mixer you have 29 different colors to choose from, with the 6.9L version you’re limited to just 5. The other more obvious downside is the price. The 6.9L mixer is more expensive than the smaller 4.8L mixer and it’s selling for KD283 here in Kuwait. Whichever you end up getting be it the 4.8L or 6.9L they’re both a lot of fun to use.

I got my KitchenAid from the dealer Mabrook in Shuwaikh but I also spotted them for sale at Williams-Sonoma. If you’re interested, here is a link to the Kuwait KitchenAid page on Facebook [Link]


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