Review: Bang & Olufsen A9

Posted by Mark

When I picked up the B&O Beolit 12 last month I also ended up picking up the Bang & Olufsen A9. I wasn’t planning to originally but it was so hard to resist. I first spotted the A9 when I was at the B&O store in Prague and it was love at first sight. It’s an AirPlay compatible speaker that will allow you to stream music onto it wirelessly and in case you don’t have Wifi you can connect your iPhone/iPod using a USB cable. The speaker has a very minimal design being just a circle with no buttons on the front and even in the back other than the power button there isn’t anything else. To increase and decrease the volume you just caress the speaker on the top from the left to right, to decrease the volume you swipe your hand right to left and to mute it you just hold the speaker on the top. The touch controls are very practical to use.

Sound wise the speaker is pretty loud and bassy for it’s size. That’s what actually sold me since I was not expecting the sound to be that big. I mostly listen to indie and electronic music on it and so far there isn’t anything really that it had difficultly playing. If we go back to the looks I should mention the speaker can be customized when it comes to colors. The front fabric cover by default comes in white but you can purchase different colors as well to match your environment like black, red, green etc.. Same with the wooden legs, you can get them in 3 different colors. In case you want to mount the speaker on the wall you can do that too.

Setting up the device was as easy as setting up the Beolit 12 and I didn’t have any trouble although a lot of people do get stuck and frustrated but that’s because they don’t follow instructions. I actually love the iPhone App since it allows me to control the settings on both my B&O devices with great ease.

My only gripe about the A9 and one many of you will remark on is the price, it’s KD890 (including the legs). At that price point it’s pretty much competing with full fledged sound systems that would deliver a lot more bang for the buck. But obviously none would look as good as the A9 or come in as simple a setup. The only other speaker system that I imagine could compete with the A9 is the Parrot Design Zikmu by Philippe Starck. But that isn’t affordable either costing around KD600 and the A9 is nearly 5 times more powerful (100w vs 480w RMS). It’s a luxury product that’s for sure but that’s the case with everything B&O produce. I love it and don’t regret getting it.


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Nu Hotel – Milan

Posted by Mark

Last weekend I went to Milan and stayed at a trendy little hotel called Nu. It was actually my second choice since I had originally set my eyes on Hotel Straf, but Nu Hotel ended up coming in at half the price which made it the obvious choice.

The hotel is not located in the city center and is not walking distance to Duomo which is actually a good thing. Duomo is in the city center where all the cathedrals, department stores, franchises, luxury brands and ALL the tourist are. Many people actually want to be in Duomo which is fine by me but I would rather shop and stay in places with more locals than tourists. The hotel is located 5 minutes away from the Metro anyway which means a ride to any part of Milan will mostly take just under 20 minutes.

My room was pretty spacious for European standards but what probably helped the room look even more spacious was the super large window that occupied most of one wall. It brought in a lot of soft natural light into the room even on an overcast day. The room had all the regular amenities like free interent, mini bar, a safe and breakfast in bed should you choose. The customer service was fantastic, I was having minor issues with my AC since in typical person from Kuwait style I wanted it on all the time and at the coldest possible temperature and they were extremely helpful with sorting that issue out for me.

There wasn’t much going on around the hotel other than a happening bar across the street. Other than that everything on the street was usually closed by nightfall. If I ever go back to Milan I wouldn’t hesitate staying at Nu Hotel. Here is the link to their [Website]


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Review: Rio, the Brazilian steakhouse

Posted by Mark

Rio is a new Brazilian steakhouse that has been open for around a month and last night I decided to pass by and try it out. Unlike regular restaurants, the way the Rio menu works is slightly different since there is just one fixed price of KD15.5. For that price you get to choose one starter from a list of about eight, you get to choose an unlimited amount of side orders and then it’s all you can eat beef, fish and chicken. It’s similar to a buffet except you never have to get out of your seat.

Rio is located on the ground floor of Jawhara Tower in Kuwait City. It’s the same building that has Ubon and a few other restaurant. But from the restaurants that are currently located there, Rio has to be the biggest, probably double the size of the others. I was actually pretty surprised at how spacious Rio was compared to the other restaurants next door. The interior was also very trendy and nicely lit with large windows on two sides creating a very open and spacious look. You could easily forget the fact that you’re not in Kuwait once you’re inside. Once we sat down the waitress proceeded to explain to us how the menu works and then provided us with two coasters, one side had a red circle the other side a green circle. You put the coasters on the table with the green side up when you want your plate refilled and the red side up when you want to stop.

I was with my brother so we got to order two starters, the Carpaccio and the rocket salad. Between the two dishes I surprisingly favored the rocket salad but that’s probably because the balsamic dressing was so ridiculously good. One thing I found a bit annoying was the fact the starters came out so quickly after we ordered and then before we were completely done with the dishes they wanted to clear the plates so they could bring in the main course. I felt a bit rushed but that’s probably due to the lack of experience since they just opened. We ordered a whole bunch of sides to go with our main course, I ordered healthy sides like mushrooms, broccoli and carrots while my brother ordered potato wedges, onion rings and fried banana. We also had 6 or 8 sauces to choose from and we decided to order all of them so we could try them out.

They serve around 14 different kinds of meats and I would say 12 of them are served on skewers that they bring to your table and slice onto your plate. One after the other a waiter would come with a different skewer for us to try like various kinds of steaks, grilled shrimps, grilled chicken and sausages and even grilled pineapple. As they would fill our plate and walk away another skewer would come which meant we didn’t have enough time to start eating. Then I remembered the colored coasters the waitress told us about so we flipped ours to “red” and the food stopped coming. Since there are so many different kinds of skewers there are bound to be some you won’t favor and in my case I didn’t favor a few but the ones I did end up liking, I liked a lot (the sliced chicken and the chicken sausage being my favorites).

I do have a few gripes about the place and it mostly has to do with the service. The whole experience just felt very rushed. Right as soon as we sat down and the waitress explained to us the concept she wanted to take our order right then on the spot even though we didn’t have time to take a look at the menu. Then as I mentioned, the starters came out very quickly after the order was taken and before the starters were completely finished the plates were being cleared for the main course. Then the way you get bombarded with one grill after the other is also a bit overwhelming. Another issue I had is when we had gone through maybe 8 or 10 grills they started coming back with grills that we had already tried. When I asked the waiter if we were done trying all the grills he said yes. Since we were pretty full we decided to ask for the bill. When the bill arrived a waiter came with chicken sausages which we hadn’t been served before. So we each took one. Then I paid the bill and another skewer came this time with beef sausages, again we hadn’t tried those before. So I asked the waiter why he would tell us we were done trying out all the grills when we hadn’t and I don’t think he understood us. I think it must have been just a language issue but it’s kinda awkward to ask for the bill and pay for it while food is still arriving. I also have an issue with the price. At KD15.5 I would have appreciated if soft drinks were included or at the very least have free refills. If you want dessert that is also an additional cost. I think dessert should be included in the price since when you go to a buffet or order a set menu, generally all the food is included.

Rio is an interesting concept and a great looking place in a good location with a ton of parking spaces all around. It’s also probably the closest thing you’re going to get to an all you can eat steak buffet in Kuwait. As a matter of fact, this is probably the closest thing you’re also going to get to a healthy buffet since the menu is mostly made up of grilled protein. My issues mostly revolve around the service but they should easily be fixable by just slowing things down a notch. If you’re interested in trying Rio here is a [Map] to the location and their phone number is 22260788.

Update: I forgot to add they’re currently in a soft launch stage and so are only open from 7PM to 11PM


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Review: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12

Posted by Mark

I’ve had my eye on the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 for some time now and last week I finally decided to splurge and get it. The Beolit 12 is a portable speaker that can operate on battery or electricity. When I first got the Beolit I had buyers remorse but that feeling has since long gone.

Unlike most other portable speaker systems, the Beolit uses AirPlay instead of Bluetooth which can be a good or bad thing depending on your requirements. Setting it up for the first time took around 5 minutes and was a fairly simple process as long as you follow the instructions. A lot of people online have complained about the setup being too complicated but I have no idea why. All you need to do is download the Beolit app from the Apple App Store and then follow the on screen instructions.

The Beolit 12 looks ridiculously cool. It comes in four colors, two being fairly safe grey tones and the other two coming in either blue or yellow. Mine is the yellow model which I think looks the best. The Beolit 12 has a leather handle which makes the whole thing resemble a picnic basket but it also makes the Beolit easy to carry around while giving it a bit of a retro feel. I took the Beolit with me to the beach and also out tagging and in both occasions I thought the Beolit performed really well. On the beach the Beolit was loud sounding like a full fledged sound system. The Beolit pumps out 100w worth of power and at full blast the sound is just too loud for comfort when you’re close to it. A couple of days later I took the Beolit with me to an abandoned parking lot where I did some tagging and the Beolit was super loud again with music most likely being heard by people passing by on the outside. Even though the speaker is fairly small it still manages to pump out a decent amount of bass for its size.

When home, I keep the Beolit in my bedroom connected to electricity, turned on and connected to the wifi network. That way when I want to play music on the Beolit it’s available right away. If you don’t keep your Beolit on with wifi on then it will take around a minute for it to turn on and connect to the wifi network before you can stream music to it. According to B&O battery life is 8 hours unless you’re using AirPlay then its 4 hours. I had the Beolit on the beach for 3 hours playing music at 80% volume and battery was down to around 54% by then. So I guess at lower volumes it could last 8 hours and maybe even more.

I have two gripes about the device. The first night I had the Beolit on the table and when I tried to slide it towards me one of the rubber feet came off. I put it back on and it hasn’t fallen since but I informed the dealer and they told me to let them know if it falls off again. Hopefully it won’t. The second issue is the lack of Bluetooth. Although I love AirPlay at home when I’m out of the house I would rather stream music wirelessly to the Beolit and not have to use a USB cable.

Other than those two issues I really love the Beolit 12. It costs KD250 which is pretty pricy but there really isn’t any other portable unit that delivers the same sound quality while still looking this good.


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Review: Breville 800 Juicer

Posted by Mark

Around a month ago I picked up the Breville 800 Juicer and since then I have been using it on practically a daily basis. I love it, like really love it.

I was wandering the Xcite aisles in Avenues killing time waiting for a friend when I stopped by the juicers section. I was checking out some of the Philips juicers which I thought looked pretty cool when a salesman came up and started telling me about a deal they had on the Breville juicer. I hadn’t heard of the brand before and was kinda bothered he was showing the Breville to me when I told him I had my eye on the Philips. I decided to check and see what the reviews on Amazon had to say about the Breville juicer and to my surprise there were over 900 reviews giving the juicer an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. I was intrigued.

My friend had come by then and we left the store but I still had the juicer stuck in my mind. Over 900 reviews and a 4.5? How good is this freakin’ juicer? I started researching it a bit on my phone and from what I read it was basically the best home juicer you could by so once I was done with dinner I headed back to the store and picked one up.

The Breville 800 is heavy since the whole unit is made of stainless steel. Everything about it screams heavy duty including the old school button and switch. The one on Amazon is listed as 1000watts but the one I picked up is a whopping 1,500. No idea if the Americans measure watts differently or if the US machines are electronically detuned so they’re more eco friendly but the fact that the 1,000w version got such high ratings made me wonder how much of a rating the exact same machine with 50% more power would get.

Using this juicer like every other juicer is fairly simple, you throw the fruits in from one end and juice flows out from the other. But while some juicers might struggle with some hard fruits I couldn’t find anything that would give the Breville 800 difficulty. I’ve actually been making juice from random vegetables and fruits I have lying around in the fridge from apples and carrots to asparagus and zuccini. I don’t cut or peel anything not even the apples. I just throw everything in and the juicer juices without any issues.

My only complaint about the machine isn’t really a complaint but more of a fantasy request which is someone needs to invent a juicer that will clean itself. Although the Breville is pretty easy to clean and take apart it’s still a chore. Other than that flaw I really really love this juicer. I don’t remember the exact price I paid for the juicer, I think it was originally priced at around 126 and they had a special offer and selling it for KD66. But, I just checked the Xcite website and it’s showing the retail price at KD99 and after discount the price is now KD54. My guess is they dropped the price even further to sell all their stock because the website is now showing the juicer is out of stock. So sucks for anyone who wants one cuz looks like you can’t get one anymore. [Link]

Note: All photos except for the first one on top are stock photos.

Update: Looks like juicer is now back in stock

Update2: Ok it’s back out of stock again…


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MOODs Hotel – Prague

Posted by Mark

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

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

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

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


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Quick Hotel Reviews (Amsterdam and Paris)

Posted by Mark

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

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

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


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My first Michelin dining experience: Parkheuvel

Posted by Mark

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

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


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


Lobster, crab and goose liver.


Lightly simmered scallops with cauliflower and hazelnuts.


Grilled turbot with risotto.


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


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

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

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


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Review: Phuket Thai Restaurant

Posted by Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Review: Kout Way Restaurant

Posted by Mark

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

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

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

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


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