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


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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Review: Sony Personal 3D Viewer

Post by Mark

When I was picking up the Sony NEX-7 last month I spotted the Sony Personal 3D Viewer on display. I had just finished reviewing the Vuzix Wrap 920 which I wasn’t impressed with and was interested in trying the Sony version to see how it would compare. Right off the bat I need to make one thing clear, while the Vuzix Wrap 920 were portable, the Sony personal viewer is not.

The Sony Personal 3D Viewer is big and and also comes with an external processor unit around the size of a small satellite receiver. You need to hook up the processor unit to a power supply, you then run an HDMI cable from the unit to say your AV Receiver, Satellite Receiver, Videogame console or any other device and finally you connect the personal head display to the processor unit with a very long cable. So again this is not a portable head display.

Once you put on the display and turn it on you’re going to be in for a surprise. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this freakin’ good! I was behind on Mad Men and had three episodes to watch and I watched them all one after the other on these Sonys. My regular tv is a 50″ plasma that’s around 3 meters in front of me so it’s a pretty large picture. The Sony personal display made it look small in comparison. Watching Mad Men through the Sony unit felt like I was sitting in a large movie theater. The picture quality was ridiculously good and because the Sony uses OLED screens, the blacks were blacker than my regular tv which was unreal. I then made my brother try them out and this is what he had to say:

Hey, so this is what I thought of the device.

I didn’t expect it to be as good as it turned out to be. This device added an extra level of immersion that made playing video games even more entertaining.

The screen inside feels big, the image is sharp and the sounds coming out of the headphones was better then I expected it to be. The first game I tried out with it was Sleeping Dogs and it looked great, but I felt the strongest point came when I tried games that use a first person perspective. When I put in Skyrim I was blown away by how crisp and beautiful everything looked, I felt like I was there in the world, it was pretty breath-taking. I also tried Battlefield 3 with it and that was another strong point, it’s difficult to explain how good these games look through the headset and it’s difficult to explain how this headset helps with helping the gamer feel more immersed in the game they’re playing.

It’s not perfect though, the headset started feeling uncomfortable after a while and it felt like there was too much pressure on my nose. I could only really play comfortable for about 40 or so minutes and then it felt like the device was weighing down on my face too much. I wouldn’t be surprised if these kind of devices became a lot more popular, I hope more companies release tech like this and at more affordable prices.

Now I did find issues with the Sony Personal 3D Viewer. The first is something I experienced but my brother didn’t which is I had a hard time getting the whole display in focus. Not sure why but in my case I could either get the center in focus and the far corners out of focus or the outer corners in focus and the center slightly not. The second issue I had was the price. They cost KD259 at the Sony dealer and it’s not because the dealer is expensive, even Amazon sells them for around KD225 before tax and shipping to Kuwait. This is why I had a hard time figuring out who would use or need these. If they were say KD99 I would get one right away but at KD259 its not an impulse buy. There is also the issue with comfort, I found them very comfortable sitting on my comfy chair with my head leaning slightly back and supported by my chairs headrest. My brother on the other hand used them while sitting on his couch most likely leaning forward like he always does and he ended up feeling stress on his nose after a period of time.

I was having difficulty figuring out who to recommend these to but after my brothers feedback I realized this might be great for gamers. With the display on you disappear into this dark space with a large display in front of you and with videogames thats a great way to really immerse yourself. Since these are 3D displays I imagine 3D games would really take you some place else.

So yeah you can tell I really love these but I just wish they were a lot more cheaper. If you want to try them out, they had them on display at the new Sony branch in Tilal Complex. Not sure if they have them on display at their other branches as well. Personally I’m going to be keeping these for a few more days before I give them back since I want to try a view games with these myself.

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The Nike FuelBand

Post by Mark

It seems everywhere I look someone is wearing a FuelBand on their wrist. Since I recently got one myself, I was curious to find out how accurate it really was. The Nike FuelBand is a wrist band that has an accelerometer built in that measures your movements through out the day. Movements like running, walking, basketball etc.. get translated into something Nike calls Fuel. You start off by setting a daily Fuel goal and the more active you are the more Nike Fuel you earn. The FuelBand turns activity into sort of a game or at least makes it more enjoyable by giving you a visual target (in this case Nike Fuel) which you want to reach at the end of everyday.

The device looks pretty cool and it has a small button which when pressed lights up LEDs inside the bracelet displaying your information. Every time you press the button you flip through the menu which includes your Fuel count, calories burned, steps taken and the time of day. If you hold the button down for a few seconds it syncs the data with your iPhone and Nike Fuel App. But is it accurate?

I decided to take the the Nike FuelBand on a run along with my Garmin Forerunner. While the FuelBand uses movement to guess how much exercise you’re performing and how many calories you’re burning, the Garmin uses a heart rate sensor and a GPS connection to more accurately calculate the same. The total distance I ran was 5.12KM and this is how each device calculated the calories burned:

Garmin: 407 calories
Nike FuelBand: 602 calories

So the FuelBand was off by around 200 calories and at a sport which it should excel in. But the result was actually more accurate than I was expecting it to be.

Does it mean it’s useless? No, I don’t think so. If you’re already very active you most likely have a Polar or Garmin watch already which you wear to the gym or when running or riding your bike. The Nike FuelBand is more for people who aren’t that active but want to be. It’s something you could wear all day long and even though it’s not really accurate, it does give you a ballpark figure which helps starters understand how much their movement is burning calories or how its helping their Nike Fuel. Most importantly it’s a lot easier to use than most sport watches and the Nike App and website helps people visualize their activities and set higher targets.

The biggest issue I have with the device is the price. At $150 it’s not cheap and costs as much as those dedicated sport watches that are much more accurate (my Garmin cost me $128). The Nike FuelBand isn’t available officially in Kuwait right now but if you’re interested in getting one the best (and cheapest) options are:

Amazon: Sells for around KD60 there [Link]

Nike Store: Sells for around KD40 there but it’s a bit tricker to order. First make sure you are at the US Nike website. You can tell if you are by scrolling down to the bottom of the Nike page. If you see a US flag on the left you’re there just go directly to the shop. If you don’t see a US flag there then change it to the US store by clicking on the flag and then selecting the US. When you place the order you need to use an American Express card and then use your Aramex or Borderlinx shipping address as your billing address. I wasn’t able to use my Mastercard to place an order, it just worked with my Kuwait issued American Express. [Link]

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Review: Persona 4 Arena

Post by Patrick


This past week saw the release of one of the strangest mashups of game genres that I’ve ever come across: a role-playing game transformed into a fighting game. The game is called Persona 4 Arena which is available on the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.

I’m just a casual fan of fighting games; I don’t spend hours upon hours practicing to spend even more time in the online modes. Growing up, I was a fan of Street Fighter, Tekken & Soul Edge/Soul Caliber. Later on, I got into Guilty Gear and a little bit of BlazBlue. If you’re a fan of those last two games, you’ll be interested to know that Arc System Works the developer behind them also developed Persona 4 Arena. I love the Persona franchise (as well as the other games in the Shin Megami Tensei series); it was one of the first games to really make me fall in love with role playing games on the Playstation at the time (with the help of Wild Arms and Final Fantasy VII later that year). I was a little skeptical when I read about the game and thought they were just trying to milk the franchise for all it’s worth, but after spending some time with the game I’ve come away quite impressed.

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My experience with Alghanim Freight

Post by Mark

A few days back a reader contacted me and told me he was leaving the country for good and wanted my recommendation on a shipping company. Since I had just used a shipping company myself I figured I might as well write about my experience.

Back in May I shipped some furniture and electronics to my apartment in Lebanon. I didn’t really look for a shipping company, I just contacted Alghanim Freight since I previously heard they were the best and so didn’t even bother looking for any other options. My experience was a mixed bag but truth be told, not sure they can be blamed for all of it.

The problem with shipping stuff to Lebanon right now is the the fact there is internal conflict taking place in Syria right now. Before the internal conflict shipping stuff from Kuwait to Lebanon could take anywhere from 1 to 4 days but now it takes around two weeks. The shipping trucks are held at the Jordan/Syria border a few days and then formed into a convoy and led by security to the Syria/Lebanon border. Once they get there they get stuck in a long queue waiting to be cleared into Lebanon.

Based on a previous conversation with Alghanim Freight we were told our stuff would arrive to Lebanon on June 3rd. So me and Nat booked out tickets from May 31st to June 16th. Alghanim Freight sent over a packing crew and they did an amazing job. They worked around 10 to 12 hours with just a small break packing everything into carton boxes and wrapping up stuff with bubble wrap. In the end we had a total of 105 boxes which they loaded up onto their truck and took off.

The day after they picked up the packages and while talking to Alghanim Freight we found out that although our shipment was insured, it was only insured up to $20,000. That amount was far less than the cost of the items we were shipping. To increase the insurance we were told that we would need to state the value of the items in each box. Although we had a list of all the boxes and what was inside, the descriptions were generic. Majority of the boxes were described just as “Furniture”, a few boxes were described as “Kitchen” and only a few boxes mostly the electronics were more specific. Since there was no way to know what was in each box there was nothing that could be done and so we didn’t get the extra insurance. We should have been asked ahead of time if we needed extra insurance kinda like how McDonalds asks if you want to upsize your meal while taking the order and not after you’re done.

Delivery Dates
This is where we had the biggest issue but now looking back at it I realized it mostly wasn’t in their hands. Originally we were told our shipment would arrived June 3rd. Two days after our packages were packed and taken we were told our shipment would arrive to Lebanon June 8th. That’s already a 5 day delay and the packages hadn’t even left Kuwait. When we got to Lebanon we found out that the shipment would get delayed again and in the end the shipment finally arrived on June 12th.

The Delivery
Our biggest concern was if all our items would end up arriving to Lebanon and how much we would get charged for customs. Luckily we didn’t end up having any problems. All 105 boxes were delivered with nothing damaged and nothing missing. In addition we also didn’t pay any customs at the border. Seems Alghanim Freight use trucks who have good relationships with the border people and so their cargo don’t get unloaded which is why we didn’t pay any taxes.

The fact that all our items arrived safely and the fact we didn’t pay any Lebanese taxes on our shipment is more than enough reason to use them again or recommend them to people. They were not accurate with the delivery dates but I truly believe it wasn’t in their control this time around. Total cost for shipping was around KD650.

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