Ruby’s

Posted by Mark

Last week Nat had dinner with some of her friends at a new restaurant that just opened up in Kuwait City called Ruby’s. She had a good experience and suggested that we pass by for lunch yesterday.

From outside the place doesn’t look like much since the shops and buildings next to it are pretty old but once you walk into Ruby’s it’s a completely different atmosphere. The place is pretty spacious and has a very cozy look and feel to it. We sat down in a comfy corner and the waitress brought us the menu. The first thing that impressed me was with how minimal their menu was. They have only 3 salads, 3 panini’s, 3 pastas and 3 burgers which I thought was very brave. Restaurants here seem to get the impression you need to have a million items on your menu but you really don’t since it’s about the quality not quantity.

Nat ordered the Mango Pumpkin Chicken Salad while I ordered the Bronte Burger on my first visit and the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini on my second (had lunch there yesterday and today). Nat really loved her salad and I thought my burger which had a sweet chili sauce was really well made. It was delicious and on my second visit I was really tempted to order it again but decided to try something else and I am glad I did. As much as I thought their burger was amazing the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini was even better. The Mango Chutney was sweet and gave the panini amazing flavor, I really loved it. I also ordered their chocolate dessert on my second visit and although it was good, I would prefer the Chocolate Fondant at Life with Cacao or the Chocolate Pudding at Slider Station instead.

Their prices are very decent. Their menu ranges from KD2.250 for their cheapest Salad up to KD3.750 for their Shrimp in Linguine which is their most expensive dish.

Ruby’s has been open I think for around 2 weeks only. They still don’t have a sign outside and they will be installing their Knet machine hopefully this week according to the waitress. I’ve drawn a map to the location which you can view [Here]. The service is great, the place is cozy and the food is amazing. I highly recommend the place.

Update: Currently (as of December 29, 2010) they open from 3PM to 11PM. According to the employees there within the next 10 days they will start opening from 11AM to 11PM. Their phone number is 22496526,


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Kensington Expert Optical Trackball

Posted by Mark

I’ve been using a trackball for nearly 6 years now. I used to use a regular mouse before but due to the amount of hours I sit in front of a computer my wrists started to hurt a lot and so I decided to do something about it. I ended up purchasing the Kensington Orbit Optical Mouse back in 2004 which I’ve posted about on this blog before and given it high marks. From day one my wrist issues got fixed and I became a big fan of trackballs. I’ve purchased 3 Orbit trackballs over the years, they never broke down just started looking old and so I would swap them out. But, I’ve always had my eye on the Orbit’s bigger, beefier and more expensive older brother, the Kensington Expert trackball which is pictured above.

While in New York a few months back I got to try the Expert trackball and decided I definitely wanted it. The Expert trackball has 4 buttons, a huge ass ball, a scroll ring and a comfy detachable wrist support. It looks good, I love using it and it makes my old smaller Orbit trackball look like a child’s toy.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about it. You can program the 4 buttons to do a variety of things and the way I’ve set them up, the left two buttons are a left click while the right two buttons are a right click. I’ve then set it up so that while in Firefox if I click the two top buttons or the two bottom buttons together at the same time then it flip between my open tabs. Pretty useful. The problem though is the way I use the trackball I actually only use the bottom left and the top right buttons since these are the two buttons that are under my fingers while using the trackball. I find it uncomfortable to use the other two buttons without changing my hand position so I don’t use them that much. The scroll ring is great and I love flicking it quickly when I want to scroll down a page in a hurry.

Price wise the Kensington Expert Trackball cost’s $79 which isn’t cheap considering it’s younger brother the Orbit costs around $22. But I have to say it’s worth the extra cash since you get what you pay for. For anyone with wrist problems I highly recommend trackballs… any trackballs not just the two I’ve used. They really make a difference.

Kensington Orbit Trackball on Amazon
Kensington Expert Trackball on Amazon


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Burger Review: Casper & Gambini’s

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Another Lebanese place I passed by to try their burgers was Casper & Gambini’s. I had heard their burgers were good so I decided to try them out. I went to the Avenues branch on Saturday and it was empty except for another couple sitting behind us. The location was small but cozy and tucked away from all the weekend traffic. I found two kinds of burgers on their menu, I decided to order the one with the thick 200grams patty and I asked for it to be done medium.

When the burger arrived I noticed something strange. Instead of one 200gram patty there were two thinner patties stacked on top of one another. I guess they had run out of 200gram patties and decided to replace them with two 100gram patties? I tried to take my first bite and had problems. The burger buns were very dry and with the two patties stacked on top of another the burger was too high for me to bite into. After squeezing the burger hard I managed to take a bite. It was super dry. The burger was cooked well done and the patties tasted like the Khazan frozen ones (no offense to the Khazan burgers). Actually the burger taste reminded me of the burgers I used to order at the beach in Lebanon as a kid. The burgers were usually terrible but because you’ve been swimming and running around all day, by the time it’s lunch anything you eat at the beaches canteen ends up being delicious. Only problem in this case is I’m not 12, and this isn’t a beach canteen.

The final score is a 1.5 out of 5 and that’s mostly because the taste reminded me of my childhood.

For a list of Casper & Gambini’s locations click [Here]
The cost of the Gambini Burger was KD4.350

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Let’s Burger
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Let’s Burger

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
I personally think the food in Lebanon is a mixture of good and bad. We obviously do good Lebanese food, we also make some of the best pizza’s, we’ve got some really great crepes and most importantly we have the world’s best beer (Almaza FTW!). One thing we strangely don’t have is good burgers. For some reason no one has cracked a good burger in Lebanon. I’ve been recommended so many places and every time I try a burger there I am left disappointed. Let’s Burger is a Lebanese burger creation which I was hoping would break this cycle.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the menu is they had mayonnaise listed under the “5 Elements for a perfect burger”. That’s when I knew things weren’t going to end well. Mayonnaise??? I continued flipping through their menu and decided to go with the stuffed cheese burger. I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger done.

A short time later my burger arrived and I quickly took my first bite. Two things grabbed my attention. The first thing is, I liked the beef patty with the stuffed cheese inside. Because the cheese was all soft and gooey it made the beef patty very juicy. The second thing that grabbed my attention is the bun, it was cold and cracking. That meant the bun wasn’t fresh and was refrigerated. Cold bread + hot beef patty = Doesn’t work. Their sauce also wasn’t anything to write home about since although the description in the menu said grainy mustard mayo sauce, what I tasted was mostly just plain mayo.

For the final score I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5. The patty was fine but they need to fix the bun issue, it shouldn’t be too hard to get fresh buns every morning delivered. They also really need to cut down on the mayo, not only is it not an important element in a good burger… it shouldn’t be on a burger in the first place. Period.

Let’s Burger is located at 360 Mall.
The cost of the Stuffed Cheeseburger was KD3.450

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Fauchon

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Fauchon isn’t one of those places that pops into mind when thinking about burgers but since a few people had recommended them I decided to give it a shot.

I passed by Fauchon at 360 Mall this weekend and ordered their Le Beef Burger a La Fauchon with classic fries on the side. According to the menu the patty is a prime US beef patty and comes with shredded cheddar cheese topped with their special dressing in their home made bun. The burger arrived and looked ok presentation wise except for the fact the whole thing looked kinda flat. When I first picked up the burger I noticed a problem and that was the bun was starting to fall apart. I hadn’t even taken my first bite so I realized that was going to be an issue. From that moment on I had to handle the burger very delicately at the risk of having the whole bun fall apart in my hand. After taking a few bites I realized two more things. First their special dressing tasted like a mix of cocktail sauce and salad dressing which doesn’t really belong on a burger. The second thing I realized is their beef patty might be the exact same ones I get from Sultan Center. Not a good thing since I’m not a fan of my home made burgers. The burger is pretty big and filling which is always a plus.

The final score for this burger is a 3 out of 5. One thing about this burger that I liked the most was the french fries that came on the side. They’re what I call hotel fries which is what I call fries that taste like ones you get from room service at hotels with a little portion of Heinz ketchup on the side. Price wise the burger cost KD4.450 which is fair for the fact it’s a burger at Fauchon although personally I don’t think it’s worth it since the burger wasn’t that great.

Fauchon is located at 360 Mall.
The cost of Le Beef Burger a La Fauchon was KD4.450

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Eighty 6 Bistro

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
I’ve been looking forward to trying the Eighty 6 Bistro burger for ages but I passed by a few months ago and didn’t have a reservation and got turned away. After that I figured it would be a hassle to pass by and never did until this past weekend. I passed by on Friday for lunch and to my surprise the place was empty. Like literally there was no table occupied. I thought that was strange but didn’t mind it since it meant I didn’t have to wait for a table to free up.

I sat down in one of the booths and started flipping through the menu. I was about to order their classic cheeseburger when I spotted something called the Bistro Burger. I asked the waiter what it was and he explained to me the burger came with lettuce, tomato, cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. He also said the patty what thicker than the classic cheeseburger and that was all I needed to hear. I ordered the Bistro Burger without the lettuce and tomato.

When the burger arrived the presentation looked good. It came on a long plate with a small pot filled with a few onion rings on one side, a small cup of fries on the other end and the juicy burger in between the two. I took a bite and noticed something, the caramelized onions were just overpowering the burger. I spent the rest of meal wishing I had ordered the burger with just the cheese. The bun was nice and soft, the onion rings and french fries although have no effect on this review were pretty bland.

Honestly, for a place that was empty during lunch time on a Friday at the most popular mall in Kuwait I was expecting the worst but I am glad that the burger turned out to be good. I decided to give it a 3.5 out of 5 and “might” have given it a 4 if I had ordered it with just the cheese. The cost of the burger is KD4.5 which is actually on the high side but I guess the fact that it comes with a side of onion rings and fries makes up for it. As I’ve mentioned before the price of the burger has no effect on the review or the final score.

Eighty 6 Bistro is located in the Avenues.
The cost of the Bistro Burger was KD4.500
For reservations call 22597961

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Nino

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Since I can have burgers as part of my diet, the burger challenge is back on. My diet says no cheese but once a week I will break it and order my burger with cheese since I am already sacrificing. This weekend I was at Slider Station and I didn’t have the chocolate pudding. Anyone who has had the chocolate pudding there would know how difficult it is to resist but I did it. That was on Saturday, Friday I passed by Nino. I wasn’t planning on trying their burger out but since everything else they had including the grilled stuff had butter in them I decided to go with the burger (salad on the side instead of fries).

I went with the Con Formaggio Burger which is their cheese burger. There is no egg in it even though it looks like it in the picture above, that’s just white and yellow cheese. No one asked me how I wanted my burger done.

I got my burger a short while later and noticed 3 slices of tomatoes under the meat patty which I quickly proceeded to remove since tomatoes sog up the bun. That’s when I also realized they had chopped cabbage lettuce underneath the tomato mixed with mayonnaise dressing. I quickly proceeded to remove those as well since they shouldn’t be in a gourmet burger. I don’t mind them in a cheap Lebanese style burger that also contains french fries over the thin frozen patty, but on a burger like this, it just feels out of place.

I put my ketchup and took my first bite. The bun is pretty good, soft and tasty. The patty on the other hand was dry. The burger was slightly messy to eat since even though I removed the tomato and mayo lettuce right away it wasn’t fast enough since the bottom bun got soggy. I struggled to come up with a score for it but in the end decided on a 3. I was going to go with a 2.5 but the bun was really good. I guess they’re lucky I’m on a low carb diet and crave bread more than burgers right now (I have dreams of the chocolate bread at The Meat Co.). The price of the burger was reasonable costing KD2.950 but even though I don’t think I would have it again.

Nino is located on the Gulf Road and Avenues.
The cost of the Con Formaggio Burger was KD2.950

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Review: Alpine iXA-W407

Posted by Mark

Here is a quick review of the Alpine iXA-W407.

It works great with the iPod as expected. I previously had the Alpine iDA-X001 installed in my Wrangler and one annoying thing in the X001 was searching for an artist. It doesn’t get much better in the W407. You can’t search using an onscreen keyboard to type an artist name for some reason instead you need to scroll down to the artist u want. You can scroll down by letter as in if you are looking for Smashing Pumpkins you can press “page down” when u r at A and it will take u to B and u keep pressing till u get to S. A painfully long process which I do not recommend while driving. Once you get to S you then have to scroll down regularly by pressing “down” untill u get to Smashing Pumpkins. Takes forever and not practical at all.

On the bright side, that’s the only negative thing I found. The multi display screen is very cool (see picture above) which basically allows you to display up to 4 different kinds of information on the same screen. I Just wish there were more widgets to add out of the current 6 including calculator and sound adjustment which are not pictured above. What I would have liked to have seen is a weather widget (could use my iPhone’s internet connection for the date) or an RSS reader.

The W407 has Bluetooth built in. Once I get into the car my iPhone connects to the Alpine automatically and whenever I want to call someone I bring up the phone number on the Alpine screen and call it. When I get a phone call I can either answer it on the Alpine or if I want privacy I can talk directly on my iPhone. Now all thats pretty normal but my favorite thing is the fact that I can stream music from my iPhone to the Alpine using Bluetooth. Like my iPod and the Radio I have Bluetooth as an audio source. When I select Bluetooth as a source whatever sound my iPhone makes I hear it on the cars sound system. Other than listening to your iPod’s music wirelessly or playing games and have the sound blast out of the cars sound system, another cool feature is the fact I stream music from the web over 3G and onto my car stereo using bluetooth. I’ve got the iPhone app WunderRadio (which I’ve posted about before) and I use it to tune into radio stations in Lebanon and stream them into my car. I don’t have any problems streaming the Lebanese radio stations since they broadcast in EDGE but Ministry of Sound UK for example streams as 3G and after a minute or so the music cuts off and I have to buffer for like 10 seconds which is very annoying. But, I am going to be upgrading my iPhones internet connection from 600kb to 14.4MB at the end of the month which should solve my problem.

I really like the iXA-W407 and if I had to do the purchase all over again I would in a heartbeat. The final score is a 4 out of 5. The lack of a decent search feature and the fact there aren’t any extra widgets I can download and install are the reasons it’s not perfect. If anyone has any specific questions regarding that Alpine unit or the install just ask it below and I will try to answer it. Regarding the PAC TR7, it worked perfectly with the W407. With the TR7 install I can watch videos and change the stereo system settings while I am driving. Without the TR7 I would have to put the car in PARK and raise the handbrake. I also had the PAC SWI-Jack installed which allows the Alpine to be controlled with the FJ’s steering wheel buttons. The PAC SWI-Jack works on a number of cars and with a number of sound systems.

I ordered all my items from Amazon, here is the list with links:

Alpine iXA-W407 Digital Media Station $554.48
Alpine HCE-C107D Rear View Camera $176.99
Scosche TA2076B 2007 Toyota FJ ISO/Double DIN With Pocket Kit $19.58
Scosche Stereo Wire Harness Toyota FJ Cruiser $12.31
PAC TR7 Multi control interface bypass module $23.26
PAC SWI-JACK $42.90
Total: $829.52


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The Ultimate Water Review Part 2

Posted by Mark

When I posted my water review I wasn’t expecting much interest. I just did it because I thought it would be something fun but the response was much more than I was expecting. A lot of you requested I add more details like the sodium content or where the water comes from so I went ahead and did that. I just finished a long and very cold session in front of my fridge tasting all the water and taking down notes. Since the last review I went and purchased some more water brands and I think I managed to get one bottle from everything available in the market except for the bakala waters (random unknown brands you won’t see anywhere else).

For each bottle of water I’ve now written what kind of water it is, where it’s from, the sodium content and the taste. Water to me should have no taste but some brands (like the bakala ones) have a strange flavor for some odd reason. So when you read “none” keep in mind that’s a good thing.

Finally before I share the results, most of these brands of water can be found at your regular super markets except for the following:

10 Thousand BC and Icelandic Glacial are only available at Dean & Deluca.
Fiji I’ve seen only at Dean & Deluca and sometimes at Sultan Center.
TSC, O2GO and Metro Mint only available only at Sultan Center.
Isbre isn’t available anywhere yet but will be released in the Kuwaiti market this March.

The review did reveal some surprises. The biggest for me was TSC. Turned out to be bottled in Lebanon and contains only 2.3mg of sodium. I think TSC could actually be re-branded Rim water since both are bottled in Lebanon and both contain the exact same amount of Sodium. But that’s just my theory. Between locally produced water the two I would choose over other brands are Arwa and AlRwadatain. From the more expensive brands Highland Spring seems to be the best deal and also contains just 6mg of sodium. Check out the results below.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Review: The iJacket

Posted by Mark

Over the weekend I picked up an iJacket while I was shopping in Bahrain. I originally posted about it back in 2007 and then totally forgot about it until I saw it at the store.

Firstly just to be clear, I got the jacket because the jacket looks good. I was not interested in the iPod connectivity, thats just an extra benefit for me but not the reason I bought the jacket. I am not the type of person that walks around listening to music and so I won’t be using the controls on the jacket a lot. Now since I did get the jacket and I do own a number of iPods I figured I might as well give my feedback.

The iPod has a special transparent and water proof pocket on the inside of the jacket. There is a regular iPod connector in that pocket and you connect your ipod to it. The pocket also has a small opening for your headphone cable to pass through. The controls on the jacket sleeve are fairly basic, volume up and down, pause/play forward and reverse. The idea is that when its cold outside you don’t want to unzip your jacket and pull out your iPod every time you want to perform a simple command and that’s where the controls on your sleeve come to play. Without unzipping your jacket or removing your gloves you can control your iPod by just touching the buttons on the sleeve. Although I call them buttons they’re not really buttons. The part of the sleeve where the buttons are located feels exactly the same as any other part of the sleeve. No bulge or anything of that sort just the shapes of the buttons imprinted on the sleeve.

When I first tried using the controls I thought I had a malfunctioning jacket since the buttons didn’t work. Then I found out that the jacket auto-locks the controls after 8 seconds of no use and to unlock the controls you have to hold down on the unlock button for 5 seconds. That’s the biggest issue I have with the jacket… the auto-lock feature. It makes the jacket unpractical. Imagine you’re listening to music and then a friend wants to tell you something. To pause the iPod you need to hold down on the unlock button for 5 seconds and then hit the pause button. So it takes at least 6 seconds to pause the iPod which is silly. You know how sometimes one track plays a lot louder than others? Well you need to wait 5 seconds for the buttons to unlock before you could quickly lower the volume to a decent listening level.

That’s why I’m giving the jacket a 2 out of 5. The auto-lock feature is the dumbest idea ever. There is no reason to have it since I can’t imagine the buttons being pressed accidentally unless someone grabs you from your arm and how often does that happen? I’ve already emailed Zegna asking if there is a way to disable the auto-lock but I doubt there is. As a jacket the iJacket is very comfortable and great looking. As an iPod controller it sucks big time because the auto-lock makes it impossible to use. Now a cool feature I would use a lot if it was included would be iPod/iPhone charging. I know there are a few jackets out there that do that but currently the iJacket doesn’t which sucks. I’m hoping if there will ever be an iJacket 2.0 it will.


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