Review: The Peacock

Post by Mark

I’m going to start my review by saying I don’t have any pretty food pictures to go with this post. I didn’t have my camera with me because I wasn’t planning to write a review and even though I had my phone I couldn’t use it to take pictures during dinner. Since everyone is usually anti-socially glued to their phones during lunch or dinner, me and my friends have this thing we do where we pile our phones facedown on top of each other on one side of the table and no one is allowed to check their phone until the bill comes. If you touch your phone before the bill arrives then you get to pay the whole bill yourself. Not something you want to do, especially when you’re at a pricy restaurant like The Peacock.

I don’t want to talk about the food anyway which was delicious (as expected). Most of you already know Peacock from before they closed down and their menu is basically 99% the same as it was before. For those of you who’ve never been to Peacock then it’s basically one of the best Chinese restaurants in Kuwait and also probably one of the best restaurants in Kuwait overall. It’s definitely in my top 3.

Now the reason I changed my mind and decided to review the place was because of the service. Hands down I think Peacock have the best dining service in Kuwait. It’s just ridiculous the amount of waiters that appear out of no where to service you. No one is hovering and you don’t notice them but when you need a waiter they’re there before you even call them. A friend arrived late to dinner and when he sat down at the table I just watched as four different waiters surrounded him to take care of him as he was being seated. One had hot towels, the other filled his glass with sparkling water, a third poured jasmine tea and the fourth handed him the menu. It’s like being pampered at a spa.

Another great thing is how well the waiters know the menu. One of my friends is allergic to wheat so she asked a waiter about various dishes and he knew the exact ingredients. He was able to tell her if one dish contained corn starch or if another used wheat or not. They know their stuff. Also, all the items on the menu are numbered and the waiter knew what each number corresponded to which dish on the menu. And the menu his huge with like 80 or so dishes yet I somehow can barely memorize my phone number.

The only negative really is that with the reopening they’ve also increased the prices of their dishes. That was to be expected because of inflation and so the prawns dishes for example are around KD9 now. Other than that we had an amazing dinner and I’m so glad they haven’t changed much about the place.

The Peacock is located at the newly renovated Radisson Blu Hotel. If you’re interested in passing by you need to reserve by calling them on 25673000.

Interior shot taken from the Radisson Blu [Facebook Page]

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Sabaidee Thai Cuisine Restaurant

Post by Mark

Sabaidee is a Thai place that has been open for some time now only I started passing by quite recently. They have three locations around Kuwait but the one nearest to me is in Salmiya behind Villa Fayrouz on Baghdad Street. I knew there was a Sabaidee in Salmiya I just didn’t expect it to be so close to my place and I was surprised when I found out it was located in a small street perpendicular to one I always drove on.

The restaurant is small but nicely decorated. It has large windows on one side which lets in a lot of light during the day although in the summer it can be a bit annoying since there are no blinds. From what I can tell, the restaurant just has just two employees (I think), one serves the guests while the other one works in the kitchen. Service can be a tad slow especially since the waitress is always in the kitchen but I’ve learned that if I needed anything I just go up to the kitchen door and ask for it, saves a lot of time that way.

The menu is pretty big with lots of dishes to choose from and they all have their pictures alongside their descriptions. My favorite two things to order are the Gai Satay which is grilled chicken marinated in peanut sauce and the Beef Pa Naeng which is a peanut sauce curry. The prices at Sabaidee are very reasonable with both dishes for example costing KD1.750 each.

If you haven’t tried Sabaidee yet you should, it’s a great casual place for lunch or dinner. Here is their location on [Google Maps] and here’s a link to their [Facebook Page]

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The Maserati Quattroporte

Post by Mark

Ever since Vincent Chase got a silver Quattroporte on the TV series Entourage I’ve been obsessed with the car which is why when the Maserati dealership asked me if I was interested in reviewing the new Quattroporte I was like duck yes!

The review car I picked up was silver just like the one on the show except I had the all new sixth-generation Quattroporte (2013 model). The new Quattroporte looks different on both the outside and inside in addition to having a more powerful engine. The car I picked up was the top of the line model with a V8 530hp engine so I was pretty thrilled once I hit the highway.

I’ve driven a lot of fast cars but I’ve never driven one so quiet. The car is scary quiet and I use the word scary here because you could be driving insanely fast without even realizing. I’m not going to mention what speed I found myself at when I casually looked down at the speedometer while driving on an empty stretch, but lets just say after that incident I turned on the cars speed warning to alert me once I hit 120km/h.

It’s such a smooth and quiet ride that it’s easy to forget you’re really driving a sports car. The interior is super pimped out (tastefully of course) with leather everywhere including all over the dashboard and real suede covering the roof. The car I drove had the optional 15-speaker, 1280-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system which I could stream my music to over bluetooth. The car has a large touch screen interface with navigation, climate control, music and the car settings all easily accessible. There are loads of compartments to store your stuff in with the two most useful located around the gear shift. In the rear you also have your own set of controls in case you’re being driven around with a driver but still want to be able to control various aspects of comfort.

The car looks fast and slick from the outside even though it’s a 4-door. The rear is probably my least favorite part of the car since I preferred the triangular shaped lights of the previous generation which looked more distinct. I took the car to my favorite spot to take photos but when I pulled out my camera it turned out I had left my memory stick at home. It was the second day with the car and I don’t think I could have kept it for another day so I ended up taking all my photos with my iPhone.

I thought I looked pretty ballin’ driving around in the Quattroporte with the music blasting high and my friends with me in the car. It’s not just an old persons car which is why it was most likely it was chosen as Vincent’s car on Entourage. Price-wise, the V8 version I drove starts at around KD39,000 with the V6 version costing a bit less. If you’re interested in test driving the car yourself you can pass by the Maserati dealer in Al-Rai (Al-Zayani) and check it out there.

Here is a link to the Quattroporte on the Maserati website [Link]

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Review: Al-Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant

Post by Mark

After posting about the Jamaican restaurant last week a friend suggest we should try an Ethiopian restaurant so I found out about one located in Hawalli called Al-Habesha. The place is located behind Bin Khaldoun street and right next to a bunch of other Ethiopian shops.

We walked into the restaurant and were greeted by a friendly lady who told us we could sit anywhere we wanted. There were a few tables occupied by other diners and the place filled up even more when we were leaving later on. They had Ethiopian TV playing music on the television and the place was decorated with bright red, yellow and green stripes. They didn’t have a menu but my friend from previous experience abroad kinda knew what we should get. The waitress asked us if wanted rice or Injera (their flatbread) and we said we wanted flatbread. She then asked us if we wanted vegetarian, meat or chicken. We went for one vegetarian and one meat. For the meat she recommended the tibs which she said we would like so we went for it.

The food arrived awhile later and it looked really good. The food was served on a large tray which was covered completely with their flatbread. The food was then placed on top of the bread in various spots. At one end of the tray was the meat dish which came in a small bowl with hot coals underneath to keep it warm. The reason I wanted to try Ethiopian food was because the flatbread is basically the plate and you eat your way through it which is an interesting idea. I also liked the fact that the dish is meant to be shared. Looking around the restaurant it was groups of two sitting and sharing a dish and I loved that.

Our dish was fantastic and unexpectedly good. The taste of the various stews (called wats) kinda reminded me of Indian food while the meat although not very tender was full of flavor. When we were done with our dishes we ordered Ethiopian tea which is regular tea mixed with cinnamon and a bunch of other spices. Finally we asked for the bill which turned out to be just KD5.5 for the meat and vegetarian dish plus two bottles of water and two cups of tea. I really loved the experience and would recommend the place but again, this is a hole in the wall joint so don’t expect much in terms of appearance. Finding Al-Habesha is easy, if you’re on Bin Khaldoun street in Hawalli, keep McDonalds on your left and drive straight until you see Subway on your left. The restaurant is located on the street behind Subway and Zawya Complex.

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Review: Taste of Jamaica

Post by Mark

Yesterday I passed by a small Jamaican restaurant that’s run by a Jamaican woman living in Kuwait. I only found out about the place last week from the owner of Caribbean Hut but turns out Taste of Jamaica has been around for awhile now. This is another hole in the wall place that had around four small tables inside an a few outside. The interior was decorated with Jamaican ornaments like flags and photos of Bob Marley while the radio was pumping out some Jamaican tunes. I think everyone who was working at the place was Jamaican although I should have asked just to be sure.

I never had Jamaican food before but one of my friends had before moving to Kuwait so we put him in charge of ordering and we ended up with the following dishes:

Caribbean Shrimp KD3.5
Jerk Chicken KD3.5
Braised Oxtails KD3.5
Curry Goat KD3.5
Spinach Rice KD0.800
Rice & Peas KD0.800
Baked Potato KD0.800

We had also ordered sides of Stir Fried Okras, Jamaican Patty, Corn Bread and Mac & Cheese but we were told they were out of them.

Once the food arrived my first impression was that the presentation of the dishes weren’t as good as Caribbean Hut. The dinnerware were regular looking and the food was just filled onto the plates like you would at home. The food on the other hand tasted a lot better than it looked. I’m not a fan of chicken on bone but my friend who had the Jerk Chicken thought it was pretty good. The caribbean Shrimp was good, nothing special but the Braised Oxtails and the Curry Goat were the two dishes with lots of flavor. Between the two, Curry Goat was my favorite but the oxtails was super tender as well. They both had new exciting flavors I hadn’t tasted before which is what I was hoping to experience by visiting this place.

On the negative side I thought the prices were a bit high especially when compared to Caribbean Hut which I thought was a super good deal. But other than that I found the place interesting and worth passing by just for the experience especially if you’re bored of your regular routine and are looking for something new to try out.

Taste of Jamaica is located in Mangaf, Block 4, Street 19 and Building #1. Their phone number is 67086852 and they’re open from 5AM to 11PM.

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Review: Caribbean Hut

Post by Mark

Caribbean Hut is a small tiny restaurant located in Abu Halifa and owned and run by a Puerto Rican chef who’s helped out by his father. I found out about Caribbean Hut by chance when I accidentally landed on trip advisors top restaurants in Kuwait list and I noticed Caribbean Hut was ranked first. A restaurant I hadn’t heard of ranked first in Kuwait? I knew I had to go check it out for myself.

First things first just so you don’t get mislead by the beautiful food shots. Caribbean Hut isn’t a big fancy restaurant in a nice mall. It’s a small place located in a dodgy part of Abu Halifa, the restaurants surroundings aren’t pretty and the restaurant itself doesn’t have a good looking interior either. They didn’t even have cute Caribbean music playing and the whole place was lit up by cold energy saving lightbulbs. So don’t go there with expectations of fine dining even though the food is very well presented. That’s really the only negative thing I have to say about the place because everything else about it was pretty great.

I got there at 3PM just as they were opening. The chef was there alone since his father works a full time job and only comes by to help once he’s done. I hadn’t had Caribbean food before so I had the chef help us choose our dishes and in the end we decided to go with the following:

— Appetizers —

Chicken Empanadillas
Puerto Rican styled patties deep-fried and prepared with chicken

Beef Empanadillas
Puerto Rican styled patties deep-fried and prepared with beef

Tostones (Plantain Chips)
Deep fried plantains

— Main Course —

Beef Carne
Mashed fried plantains filled with fried beef, seasoned with Caribbean spices, served with white rice

Shrimp Camarrones
Mashed fried plantains filled with sauteed shrimp, seasoned with Caribbean spices, served with white rice

Trinidadian Chicken Curry
Trini style chicken curry served with white rice

— Dessert —

Leche Flan
Made with condensed milk, sweetend milk and caramel

Made with coconut milk, sugar, and cinnamon

From the two Empanadillas I preferred the minced beef and would order that again. Even though they were deep fried they didn’t taste or look oily, if anything they actually looked and tasted like they were oven baked. The Tostones were very interesting and would have even been better if they had salsa on the side to dip them into. They actually do have salsa on their menu but it wasn’t available to order when we were there.

Once we were done with the starters the chef brought over our main courses. We started with the Trinidadian Chicken Curry which was in the menu under the section called “Our Neighbors” alongside the Cuban Stewed Beef and Jamaican Pulled Chicken. The Trinidadian curry tastes fairly different from the traditional Thai or Indian curry and although it was good, after trying the other two dishes I probably wouldn’t order this one again. The Beef Carne and the Shrimp Camarrones were both incredible dishes with lots of new flavors I hadn’t experienced before. The presentation looked great and I wouldn’t be able to choose between the two the next time I pass by. I’d probably order them both again.

Finally when we were done we had our desserts. From the two I preferred Leche Flan which is similar to Creme Caramel and like Creme Caramel, it’s not very exciting. While having the desserts I chatted with the chef who’s the owner as well. I thought they had opened a few months back but turns out in a few days it’s going to be their one year anniversary. It’s pretty surprising how a great place like that has been open for so long and isn’t well known yet.

If you’re looking for something new and different to try then I would definitely recommend Caribbean Hut. The food was great, the owner was really friendly, it’s a small family business and most importantly, it’s not another burger joint. Other than the location there really isn’t anything to complain about. Price wise it’s a steal. We had two starters, three main courses, two desserts and four soft drinks and the total came out to be KD9.550 and that’s mostly because of the shrimp dish which was double the price of anything else on the menu. If you want to find out more about the place or the exact location you can check out their website where they even have their full menu available [Link]

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Review: UP by Jawbone

Post by Mark

Last week the Jawbone dealer sent me the UP wristband to tryout and review. The Jawbone UP tracks your sleep and movement patterns and I am going to start this review by saying I am not UP’s intended user. The UP is meant for casual users who want to get a rough idea of how many calories they’re burning or how active their lifestyle is. Since my lifestyle is already pretty active I need more accurate data which the UP can’t provide me with since it doesn’t monitor your heartbeat and it doesn’t have a GPS to track distance. But, after having used the UP for a week I ended up liking the device and I’ll explain why a bit further into the review.

The UP reminds me a lot of the Nike Fuelband and it should because they both basically do the exact same thing. Both the Fuelband and UP track your movement patterns and then converts that data into pretty graphs. The biggest difference for me with the UP is that it also tracks sleep patterns which is something that I was really interested in. When you run the app for the first time you enter various information about yourself and then you choose two targets, the amount of hours you would like to sleep and your daily target for steps. The defaults are 8 hours and 10,000 steps and I left them that way. Throughout the day all your movements are recorded by the wristband but you can also help make it more accurate by telling the wristband what activity you just performed.

Within the UP application on the phone you have the option to log specific workouts like a run or a weight lifting session. You select the kind of activity you performed based on preset ones along with the intensity of the activity and also the duration. The application then calculates how many calories you burned using published MET values. This isn’t very accurate because you have to estimate the intensity of your activity and so you’ll only end up with a ballpark figure which should still be fine for the majority of people.

Sleep tracking is a very interesting aspect of the UP. Before you go to sleep you put the device into sleep mode and when you wake up you just turn sleep mode off. UP then takes your nighttime movement data and plots them out for you. My aim was to get 8 hours of sleep every night but based on the data my average has been less than 6 hours. UP also lets you know how long it took you to fall asleep and how much light and deep sleep you’re getting. Finally UP can also help you take a proper power nap during the day. By pressing the button on the UP twice and then holding it down it will turn on power nap mode which based on your previous nights sleep will calculate the optimum duration for your power nap which could range from 27 to 45 minutes. When it’s time to wakeup the UP vibrates.

Synchronizing the data between the UP and the app is a simple process, there is small cap at the end of the UP band which when removed will reveal a headphone connector which plugs into the phone. The wristband is also water resistant which according to the Jawbone website means I can shower with it but I actually swam with it all day over the weekend and it’s still working perfectly fine. Actually the website says NOT to submerge it in water so if you do so you do it as your own risk. Battery life according to Jawbone is 10 days and based on my experience that seems about right.

So yes the UP isn’t very accurate but I personally still loved it and the main reason being is I’m wearing it like a normal bracelet, a fashion accessory. The UP looks good, I don’t have to remove it when I shower or swim and other than charging it once every 10 days the UP doesn’t require any maintenance. It’s like a nice looking bracelet that has the added value of letting you know approximately how active you are while also letting you know how much sleep you’re getting.

If you’re interested in the UP you can order one directly from the dealer by calling them on 97337221. It costs KD45 and KD2 for delivery. You can also check out their Instagram account for other ways of ordering [Here]

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Review: Oliversan Asian Restaurant

Post by Mark

Last week I was craving Chinese food so I headed with a friend to Oliversan in Burj Jassim. Oliversan is the new Asian restaurant owned by the same owners as Maki. On any other day I would have visited Caesars or China Kitchen, my two favorite Chinese restaurants, but that evening I felt like going to a “nicer” place and until Peacock reopens, Oliversan is the only alternative.

The interior looks nice and cozy but like most restaurants during Ramadan, it was empty when we arrived. We were given the menu and I started looking for sweet and sour chicken (my favorite dish) which turns out they didn’t have. That was a good thing since it allowed me to try something new which wasn’t hard to do since their whole menu was full of dishes I hadn’t heard of before. We ended up ordering the following:

Velvety Creamy Chicken Corn Soup KD1.5
Spicy Garlic Sweet Snap Peas KD2.5
Oliversan Duck Salad KD4.5
Sweet and Sour Ostrich Fillet KD5
Braised Short Ribs with Oolong Tea Leaves KD6.5
Regular Oliversan Fried Rice KD2.5

The soup arrived first. I generally wouldn’t order cream of chicken soup at a Chinese restaurant but they only had three soups on the menu and I felt like soup that night. Glad I did because the soup was actually the least disappointing thing I had that night. The Spicy Garlic Sweet Snap Peas came once the soup was done along with the Duck Salad. I wasn’t too impressed with the Duck Salad, not for that price point at least since I didn’t think there was enough duck in it. The dressing was good though and it was a pretty light starter along with the snap peas which left lots of room for the main course.

Once we were done with our starters the waiter brought us our main dishes. The food presentation looked great specially the sweet and sour ostrich. Taste wise my friend liked both dishes but I personally didn’t. I thought the sweet and sour ostrich was the better of the two dishes but it was slightly bland. The meat was surprisingly tender and had good flavor, its just the sweet and sour sauce that let it down. The braised short ribs I had high hopes for but I didn’t end up liking it at all. I thought it was too dry and it should have been served a lot hotter. My guess is since they’re still in a soft launch phase the menu is still being fine tuned which is why I left them this same feedback before I left.

The service was great but since we were alone in the restaurant I wouldn’t have expected anything less. One thing that I found odd was the food plates. The main courses were served in huge plates while our dinner plates were tiny (similar in size to the bread and butter plates). I found it very unpractical eating out of a small plate since I could barely fit a bit of rice with two pieces of ostrich without food starting to spill out of the plate.

In the end I wasn’t too impressed. Maybe I should have gone for the Spicy Chicken with Box Choy or the Mongolian Ostrich with Thai Basil since those two dishes were the other ones I was considering. Anyway if you’re interested in trying them out they’re located in Burj Jassim and their phone number is 22901051.

[Menu Shot 1] [Menu Shot 2]

Note: Interior shot taken from their website

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Aloo ISDN by Fasttelco

Post by Mark

A couple of weeks back Fasttelco hooked me up with a product they have called Aloo ISDN. Aloo ISDN is a phone line to use when traveling which will allow me to make and receive unlimited calls to and from Kuwait for free. It’s a really great simple product but a bit complicated to explain so I will try my best to be very clear.

– When you sign up to Aloo ISDN, Fasttelco will provide you with a local number, in my case its 22200XXX (XXX because I don’t want everyone to have my number)

– Once you get the number you then need to download the free app “Media5” from the app Store and follow Fasttelco’s setup instructions. I am personally using the application “Bria” instead of Media5 but it isn’t free. Both these apps work on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The product requires the internet to work so your device needs to be connected to WiFi or 3G/4G LTE. I used Aloo this past weekend while in Lebanon and I thought it was great.

Before I left Kuwait I forwarded my Viva number to my Aloo number so that any phone call I receive while in Lebanon I would get to answer using my Aloo number. You don’t have to do that but I found it easier than giving everyone my “travel number” and that way I also avoid getting calls on my regular number and paying roaming charges.

The product works. I didn’t have access to WiFi while in Lebanon but I did have a 3G connection. I used the Aloo number a bunch of times and only on one occasion did I have a connection problem but at the time I was driving on a mountain road so my guess is the 3G connection was dropping. Using the number is fairly easy. When you get a phone call the app would pop up and ask me if I want to answer the phone call. To make a phone call I just launch the app and either dial the number or find one from my contact book. I was actually surprised I was able to use the service with a Lebanese 3G connection since the connection in Lebanon isn’t that fast. If it works in Lebanon it should work even better in European countries or the States.

If you travel a lot and pay a lot of roaming charges then this product could save you a lot of money. For a regular number is costs KD70 the first year and then KD60 every year after that so unless you make and receive over KD60 worth of roaming calls a year Aloo is not worth getting. They also have more premium numbers, the number they gave me for example is a silver number and costs KD120 the first year, gold costs KD200 the first year, platinum 500, diamond 1000 and royal 5000. All the numbers then cost KD60 a year after that. If you’re interested in signing up or getting more information you can call Fasttelco on 1838485.

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The Jaguar F-Type

Post by Mark

A couple of weeks ago I was driving on the highway when a Jaguar F-Type drove past me. It was the first time I had seen one in person and I thought the rear end looked amazing which is why once I got home I emailed my contact at Jaguar asking if I could borrow the car, which I did, last week.

The F-Type turned out to be smaller than I was expecting it to be and that’s a good thing since I’m not a fan of large sports cars. It’s a 2-seat roadster convertible with a soft top that comes with either a V6 or a V8 engine. The model I tested had the V6 S-type engine which has 40 more horsepower compared to the regular V6.

The F-Type is by far the best looking Jaguar in production right now and is easily one of the hotest looking roadsters available on the market. I love the direction they went with the rear end but even the front of the car looks slick and aggressive. The interior of the car I drove was a combination of black and tan. I’m not usually a big fan of tan but since the dashboard and everything else was black and just the leather seats and leather trim in tan, the combination looked pretty good.

Performance wise although the car I drove was the F-Type S it wasn’t as fast as I was hoping it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I risked deportation a number of times while driving the car (by accident of course) but it wasn’t the “this car is going to kill me” kinda fast. On the other hand the car sounds INSANE! The model I drove was the fully loaded F-Type S with the optional exhaust system installed and if there is one option you have to get with this car this is the one. The exhaust system by default sounds fairly normal but there is a little switch on the centre console which once pressed transforms the exhaust into a completely different beast. The car was easy to drive (slow and fast) and it felt pretty responsive and agile weaving in and out of traffic.

I didn’t have or spot any major issues with the car during the time I had it but I was supposed to drop a friend off at the airport with the car and I couldn’t. The trunk of the F-Type is so small that I couldn’t fit a medium sized bag into it. I also had an issue with the car dials, during the day they just seemed a bit dark and I kept wishing they were much brighter. Finally the soft top, it’s not just with this Jaguar but in general I’m just not a fan of soft tops in Kuwait. For the good part of the year the roof is going to be closed and a foldable hard top would be much more practical solution for our weather.

One thing that surprised me about the car was the price. Whenever a friend asked me how much the car was worth I told them I didn’t know but that I assumed it cost upwards of KD30,000. When I was returning the car I found out the car actually starts at around KD22,000 which I felt was undervalued. The car looks like it’s worth a lot more than that and if you look at what else is available at that price range the Jag looks like a great buy. Of course with all the extra options the price does add up. If you want the F-Type S that starts at 25,000 and the model I drove was a fully loaded F-Type S (exhaust, rear camera, 20inch wheels etc..) which costs 29,500. The V8 model is even more expensive of course.

Anyway if you’re interested in test driving the car yourself you can pass by the Jaguar dealer in Al-Rai (Al-Zayani) and check it out there.

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