Thule 970XT Helium Bike Carrier

Post by Mark

I needed a bike carrier for my FJ and after looking at the locally available options I decided to order the Thule 970XT off Amazon. I didn’t want one of those flimsy bike carriers you strap onto the back of the car but instead wanted one that would fit into my FJ’s trailer hitch. I also didn’t want one that I’d have to bolt on and off since I knew it would be a hassle and I’d either end up leaving the carrier always on or not using it at all. After a bit of research I found the Thule 970XT.

There are a number of cool features in this Thule bike carrier. First because it’s mostly made of aluminum it’s pretty light weight and I can easily carry it with one hand. The second really cool feature is the fact you can fasten it and unfasten it to your car in under a minute and I’m not exaggerating here. Instead of using bolts to secure the bike carrier to the trailer hitch, the Thule 970XT uses an ingenious knob which you can tighten and loosen up to fasten into the hitch. This means I can leave the bike carrier in my trunk and hook it to my hitch only when I need to and very easily. It’s a really practical bike carrier to use and I don’t think there is any other one that can be hooked up to a car quicker than this.

There are other small cool features as well for example the knob that fastens the hitch to the trailer has a lock to prevent the carrier from being stolen. The bike carrier can also tilt down forward so you can open the trunk without removing the hitch and finally the bike carrier also comes with a locking cable so you can secure your bikes onto the carrier and not worry about anyone stealing them (easily).

I ordered the bike carrier from Amazon for around KD90 and had it shipped to my friends APO mailbox but, I just checked and Mr Babu are selling it for KD140 which is probably as much or less then what you would pay if you shipped it via Aramex. Here are some links:

Thule 970XT on Amazon
Thule 970XT on Mr Babu


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The Camaro ZL1

Post by Mark

I was contacted by Alghanim Automotive asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing the new Camaro ZL1. I’m honestly not a big fan of American cars and if they were asking me to review the regular Camaro I would have most likely said no, but… the ZL1 is a different kind of Camaro, it’s a Camaro with a V8 6.2L 580-freakin-HP monster engine. So I said yes.

There’s a popular saying that people don’t change, well that’s not true. I’m usually a law abiding, non-agressive and courteous driver, but once I started driving the ZL1 I changed. In my neighborhood I became the asshole down the street with the loud car who tries to run down all the cats. On the highway I became the jerk that cuts everyone off, at u-turns I became the douche that slides his car at full thrust and at red traffic lights I was the dipstick who kept revving his engine loudly. This car is dark and evil. It changes people. All I wanted to do is drive around with my middle finger sticking out the window while doing donuts in the middle of every intersection on the Gulf Road. Oh and a large FUCK YOU sticker on the rear window would have been nice as well. I really loved this car.

The ZL1 I picked up was pretty aggressive looking. The color was a very dark gray (jet black), the 20inch wheels were black and the interior was also black. If I was to choose a color combination for my car this would have been exactly it. I am really thankful to Alghanim for not providing me with a bright yellow Camaro with black stripes running down the middle since I would have most likely puked all over it. The interior as I mentioned was also black but they also used Alcantara (suede like material) for the steering wheel, gear stick and dash which made the interior very sporty looking. I had a choice between an auto and manual but since my stick shift skills are as good as Kim Kardashians acting skills, I chose the auto to the dismay of all my friends. I don’t regret I did. Although the automatic gearbox has a lot to be desired in term of responsiveness and speed, it didn’t really matter to me since I wasn’t on the track and I was just having too much fun with the car to notice. The car really is a lot of fun to drive. The first two days when I picked up the car it was raining so obviously the roads were wet and a 580HP rear wheel drive car on a wet surface is asking for trouble (the good kind). You really do need to respect the power which I wasn’t really doing hence why I got the scare of my life when I was driving at around 110KM/H and gave the car a kick down which to my surprise slid the ass sideways so much I nearly hit the car on my right. This car is a beast. It’s loud, it’s angry and it wants to kill you. I have no idea how I didn’t get stopped by the cops and deported in the five days I had the car. It was crazy good times.

I do have a bunch of negatives about the car though. For one thing the seats aren’t sporty enough. I would have wanted them to be deeper bucket seats and tighter since I was sliding left and right on my seat without much side support. The stereo was also a disappointment even though it was a 250w Boston Acoustics sound system, it just didn’t have the oomph. Externally, the front and sides of the car look pretty aggressive but the rear not so much. If I bought this car the first thing I’d do is replace the rear wing with a carbon version to match the carbon on the front hood, I’d also black out the chrome around the rear lights and more importantly replace the rear bumper with one more aggressive looking and possibly one with a rear carbon skirt. Finally gas consumption. If you drive the car like an old women the gas consumption is actually not that bad. On the other hand if you drive the car like it’s meant to be driven then you’re going to consume a lot of gas, and I mean A LOT of gas. There was one day where I filled the gas tank full three freakin times! I’ve never done that with ANY car before not even on long road trips.

The price of the auto ZL1 in Kuwait is KD19,695. The manual version is for slightly less at KD19,195. If you’re looking for a very fun monster but one that’s still comfortable as an everyday car then I can’t think of anything better than this. I want this car.

Note: No cats were harmed during the making of this review


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Review: The Nintendo Wii U

Post by Patrick

Wii U 1

It’s pretty impressive that a company founded back in 1889 still exists today and is considered one of the most innovative and creative companies in their field. Nintendo has survived throughout these years not by sheer luck, but by being able to adapt to markets and get ahead of the game. Nintendo didn’t always make video games – it started out making playing cards and when that business was waning the CEO of the time Hiroshi Yamauchis decided to move into other businesses like instant noodles, a taxi company, and even a TV network. Eventually, Nintendo made its way in the video game business and released the NES; 27 years later, Nintendo has finally released its sixth console, the Wii U.

Nintendo’s philosophy has never been about creating the most powerful console with the best graphics, but to create a console that anyone could enjoy, developers could create fun games for, and is affordable. They constantly try to innovate without going overboard. The Nintendo 64 was the first console to introduce analogue sticks and 4 player controller ports right out of the box that competitors adapted in the future. We’re seeing similar advancements with motion controls that Nintendo introduced with the Wii and now Nintendo has taken another step forward by introducing the Wii U and the Game Pad.

Mark was able to hook me up with a Wii U from X-cite to review and I got the chance to test it out by playing Super Mario Bros U, ZombiU, Nintendo Land and Batman Arkham City.

Wii U + gamepad

The first thing I was curious about was Nintendo’s new social network called the Miiverse and so far it’s been informative, entertaining, and pretty promising. For those who don’t know, the Miiverse is where you interact with other Wii U users through a community for every app or game out for the Wii U. So if you want to discuss some Youtube videos, you can go to the Youtube community and post about it there and other users can reply or give you a “Yeah!” (equivalent to a Facebook “Like”). If you want to discuss a specific game and you’re unsure about buying it, you can go to that game’s community and ask them about it. Other times, people will draw some really elaborate drawings using the Wii U’s gamepad and the community walls turn into a temporary art exhibit. And it works well – comments are posted instantly without delay. People will comment and try to solve things. For example, I was going through the ZombiU community and found a thread with over 25 comments of gamers trying to decipher some code someone found spray-painted on a wall in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if communities like this sprang up in the next iteration of consoles Microsoft and Sony release.

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Review: China Kitchen

Post by Mark

China Kitchen is another Chinese restaurant recommended by my readers to try out. They had an outdoor seating area and since the weather was good thats where I ended up sitting. When I got the menu I found it slightly confusing at first because they have the meats and sauces separate. So instead of having a chicken section with all the chicken dishes under it, they have a “Meats” section where you choose for example either chicken, beef, crab, prawns etc.. and then they have a “Sauces” section where you can choose the sauce you want like sweet & sour chicken, Mongolian, Schezwan, Manchurian etc.. I personally prefer it the old fashioned way.

We ended up ordering the following:
Chicken Spring Rolls KD1.000
Wanton Soup KD1.000
Crab Corn Soup KD1.000
Shrimp on Toast KD3.000
Shrimp Dumplings KD3.000
Vegetable Fried Rice KD1.250
Sweet & Sour Chicken KD2.250
Kindo Chicken KD2.250
Beef with Mushroom & Bamboo Shoots KD2.750

My friend had the Wanton Soup and liked it, I had the Crab Corn Soup and didn’t think much of it but that’s because I compare all Crab Soups to the one I have at Caesars and no one seems to do it better than them. The Spring Rolls were boring but the Shrimp on Toast was pretty good especially since they give you three different sauces for it. The Shrimp Dumplings were ok as well but what really stood out for me were the main courses. Both the Sweet & Sour Chicken and the Kindo Chicken were probably the best I’ve had. They were full of flavor and really really delicious. The Beef with Mushroom & Bamboo Shoots I didn’t like at all but I didn’t really care since I was more than satisfied with the two chicken dishes.

The service was good and friendly and I really liked the fact they had outdoor seating. I do think their shrimp dishes were a bit on the pricey side but everything else was priced reasonably. I’d definitely go back there again just for the Sweet & Sour and Kindo Chicken.

China Kitchen is located in Salmiya and their phone number is 25738756. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Golden Chopsticks

Post by Mark

A lot of readers yesterday recommended a bunch of Chinese restaurants to try out so I’m going to be going through the list one by one. One of the places that was recommended by more than one person was Golden Chopsticks. I used to know Golden Chopsticks from the early 2000’s back when they were located near Scientific Center but I hadn’t been there since. They’re now located in Shaab where they moved to around 8 years ago. The restaurant is pretty spacious with around 10 tables so finding a place to sit shouldn’t be an issue. I passed by last night and there were three other tables occupied so mid-week the place seems quiet and private.

We ordered the following items:
Chicken Corn Soup KD0.750
Crab Corn Soup KD0.850
Shrimp Spring Rolls (3pcs) KD0.950
Shrimp on Toast (8pcs) KD2.250
Boiled Shrimp Dumpling (8pcs) KD1.950
Sweet & Sour Chicken KD2.250
Chicken w/ Cashew Nuts KD1.750
Egg Fried Rice KD1.100
Prawn with Chili & Garlic KD3.250

Based on the readers comments about the place I was really expecting the food to be exceptional. But, most of the items I had were good at best. The Sweet & Sour Chicken was the worst thing I had while the Prawn with Chili & Garlic was my favorite dish. The dumplings and Chicken with Cashew Nuts were also both really good while the Shrimp on Toast and Sprint Rolls were really boring and I wouldn’t order them again. I was meant to try their Peking Duck which I was told was really good but they had run out of it by the time I got there so I couldn’t try it.

The service was really good and friendly and I was greeted with smiles as soon as I walked in. The interior is cozy and I was there for around 3 hours and never felt uncomfortable. Overall I wasn’t too impressed with the dishes (other than the ones I highlighted as good) but their prices are pretty cheap and their comfortable interior and friendly service would make me want to go back again.

If you’re interested in passing by their phone number is 22656161 and here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Oriental Cuisine

Post by Mark

I’m probably one of the few people left in Kuwait who hadn’t been to Oriental Cuisine before. I had heard about the place but never really felt like going until a couple of days ago. For those of you who don’t know, Oriental Cuisine is a Thai restaurant located in Kuwait City. It’s not a new place but it started off as a small and awhile back expanded into a larger restaurant.

I went with a friend and we ordered a whole bunch of things including:

Chicken Satay KD1.750
Khanom Pang Na Moo (Shrimps on toast) KD2.750
Tom Yum Soup (prawns) KD2.750
Kaeng Khiao Wan (chicken green curry) KD1.750
Honey and garlic chicken KD1.750
Pad Thai (chicken) KD2.000
Plain rice KD0.300

People told me everything on the menu is good and from my one time experience there it seems that could be possible. All our dishes were at the very least good but most were great. My least favorite was probably the chicken satay since there wasn’t much flavor there but on the other hand my favorite dishes were probably the honey and garlic chicken along with the shrimps on toast which I couldn’t have enough of.

Their prices are pretty affordable and they weren’t stingy with the food quantity. My only complaint about the place would be the fact that their service wasn’t that great. When I arrived no one greeted me and I had to wait at least 5 minutes for anyone to give me any sort of attention. Other than that minor quibble it’s a pretty cool place. If you’re interested, they’re open all week except on Mondays and their phone number is 22470400. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Bose Soundlink vs Jawbone Big Jambox

Post by Mark

This review turned out to be tougher than I expected since I was expecting the Big Jambox to easily come out on top but the Soundlink put up a pretty good fight. Both speakers are similar in that they are compact and very portable, run on rechargeable battery and connect to your music player wirelessly using bluetooth.

From the two speakers right off the bat I’ll say the Big Jambox is the better sounding of the two. There is no question about that. I played a variety of music ranging from Mumford & Sons and Zulu Winter to 16 Bit Lolita’s and Guy J when testing the speakers out. Switching between the two speaker was very easy using the iPhone and so I was easily able to compare the same songs on both speakers. In each and every case the Big Jambox topped the Soundlink when it came to the sound quality. The Jambox always sounded richer, had deeper lows as well as clearer highs. To top it off the Jambox could also go a lot louder than the Soundlink.

So you’d think there was a clear winner here but there isn’t. The thing is although the Big Jambox did sound better than the Soundlink the difference isn’t that dramatic in most cases. Because I was switching from one speaker to another instantly I was clearly able to distinguish the differences but if I had heard the two speakers on different days for example it would be a lot more difficult to distinguish the differences.

What I think clearly separates the two really depends on what you’re planning to use the speaker for. A friend of mine was looking for a speaker to take when traveling and use in hotel rooms, the Bose Soundlink would be the one to recommend in this case because although slightly taller its lighter and more compact so will fit easier into a suitcase. On the other hand if you have a gathering and want a portable speaker you could move out onto the balcony or onto the beach than the Big Jambox is the one I’d go for.

Design wise I personally prefer the colorful and chunky Big Jambox over the Soundlink. It comes in a variety of colors and it just looks funkier than the classier and more conservative looking Soundlink. The Soundlink has a 6 hour battery life while the Jambox has an astounding 15 which is why I’m guessing the Jambox is much heavier. Both speakers are selling for the same price of KD99 here in Kuwait.

So which one is better? Sound and design wise the Big Jambox is the clear winner for me. But the Soundlink does sounds pretty good as well and comes in a more compact and lighter package. For my needs though, I’d go with the Big Jambox.

Jawbone Big Jambox is available at Blink [Here]
Bose Soundlink is available at Xcite [Here]


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Review: Borderlands 2

Post by Patrick

We live in an age where releasing sequels is the norm because it’s more profitable and less risky than releasing a brand new original title. So, it should be no surprise that some sequels start to feel like expansion packs to the original game instead of a true sequel. They might add a little content here and there but end up using a very similar (or the same) graphics engine and avoid fixing what could have been wrong in the first game. The good developers learn their lessons and attempt to improve every facet of the game instead of rehashing the original. I was a huge fan of the first Borderlands since I felt that it stood out among the other shooters out there mostly for its role-playing elements, random loot, a great shooting mechanic, and stylistic visuals. Even though it did a lot of things right, I felt the game had a lot more potential. The world itself felt small, the towns felt dead, and although the enemy A.I. was decent, there weren’t many variations of enemies. Add to that it had a weak storyline and a brutally disappointing ending. So when a sequel was announced, I was hopeful that Gearbox Software would learn from their first outing and release a sequel that was even better than the original. I had high expectations and I can safely say that Gearbox Software are one of the good developers since they have delivered a solid sequel that improves nearly every aspect of the original, while expanding on the formula they set up in the first game.

The premise of the game is quite simple. The villain, named Jack, wants to open a vault that is said to be home of something powerful. With this power, Jack hopes to become the all-supreme leader of Pandora. The game doesn’t take time to push you into the action; you start off on a train headed to your destination when a “complication” arises.

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Saravanaa Bhavan – Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Post by Mark

A friend of mine took me to Saravanaa Bhavan the other day and I’m now in love with the place. They serve authentic Southern Indian dishes and I think it was my first time having it since there were a lot of things I hadn’t tried before.

The restaurant is located in Fahaheel and overlooks the Kout Mall marina. It’s super clean and pretty big with lots of seating. I took a glance at the menu but since none of the dishes had a description my friend ordered everything for me. I ended up having the following:


Plain Dosa


Poratta Curry


Idli Sambhr Chutni


Curd Vada


Cheese Dosa


Poori Bhaji


Payasam

And yes I ate all of that. There was so much flavor everywhere I just couldn’t stop trying all the dishes. The only thing I actually didn’t like was the Idli Sambhr Chutni which is basically steamed rice pudding. It tasted like a wet piece of bread and was the most disappointing dish I tried. Everything else was delicious. The Curd Vada probably stuck out the most since it was very cooling dish. For dessert I had the Payasam which is a warm milk and rice dessert that’s very sweet and full of spices.

It’s a great place and very affordable. All the dishes cost under KD1 with only the Plain Dosa costing KD1.100. They also have lunch and dinner specials, we missed out on the lunch special since we got there around 3 o’clock. I’m actually going back again tonight with some friends, I highly recommend it.

Saravanaa Bhavan is located in Humoud Towers, Fahaheel. It’s the same building as Centerpoint and they’re on the 4th floor. Their phone number is 23929099 and here they are on [Google Maps]


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Zuma Restaurant – Dubai

Post by Mark

I don’t go to Dubai much but when I do a friend of mine always nags me to pass by and try Zuma. Zuma is a trendy contemporary Japanese restaurant located near Burj Khalifa in DIFC. I had to book a table a few days before arriving to Dubai since it’s pretty difficult to find a table on the weekends.

The place looked amazing at night with a really high ceiling and great use of light. When we sat down we were given the menu but I already knew what I wanted since I already had some recommendations from friends. We went with rock shrimp and a salmon dish for our starters along with steamed Edamame. For our main course we went with two of their specialities, the black cod and spicy beef. We also ordered sweet corn and sweet potato for our side dishes and I finished up with their chocolate fondant.

Since I had heard so much about the place I had very high expectations and so wasn’t really impressed with our starters. The rock shrimp was similar to other rock shrimps I’ve had in Kuwait and the salmon appetizer was also very familiar. But, things quickly improved after that. The sweet potato arrived before our main course and it was crazy good, I hadn’t had anything like it before. The sweet potato was glazed with teriyaki sauce and topped with sesame, I’d order it again in a heart beat. Our black cod and spicy beef dishes arrived a short while later along with our sweet corn with shiso butter. The corn was cut into blocks around 5 kernels high and had sticks in them. They were very easy to eat (like popsicles) and were full of flavor, another side dish I’d highly recommend. The spicy beef dish was super tender and had a sesame, red chili and sweet soy sauce. Although it was great I’d probably try something different the next time I’m there. Now the black cod dish is the reason why I decided to even post about Zuma. The black cod is marinated in miso and wrapped in hoba leaf. When it arrives the waiter opens up the leaf for you and rubs a bit of ginger onto it. I really don’t think I have the vocabulary to beging to describe the flavor, I didn’t expect it to be that good and I loved it. This is really the dish you have to order if you ever go to Zuma. We ended dinner with their special chocolate fondant. For some reason they thought it was Nat’s birthday and it arrived with a candle and happy birthday scribbled with chocolate. Luckily no loud banging and singing was accompanied with the dessert.

I really had a great experience and if you’ve never been it’s definitely worth passing by the next time you’re in Dubai. Our bill came out KD95 but that included a KD35 bottle of wine and a 15% tip. Without the wine it’s basically KD30 a person which is pretty reasonable for the quality of food you’re getting. The two main dishes cost around KD12.5 each which I think is underpriced compared to some of the more expensive dishes I’ve had here in Kuwait. If you’re interested make sure you call and book in advance so you’re not disappointed. Their number is +971 4 425 5660 and here is the link to their [Website]


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