Review: Borderlinx vs MyUS

Post by Mark

Borderlinx and MyUS are both companies that offer US forwarding mailboxes so you can shop online, mail stuff to your US address and then have them forward it to your home in Kuwait. I’ve been using Aramex Shop&Ship since 2001 for my regular day to day shopping but a few years ago I signed up to Borderlinx since sometimes I needed my shipments to get to Kuwait fast and Shop&Ship is just too slow. Everything was fine and dandy until I realized Borderlinx was taking an 8.5% customs clearance fee on top of the 5% customs fee which I thought was absurd. So, I decided to try an alternative and I signed up to MyUS last month. This review is strictly Borderlinx vs MyUS and doesn’t include Shop&Ship because Shop&Ship is a lot cheaper as well as a lot slower (apples vs oranges).


MyUS has been around since 1997, I first heard about them back in 2001 but ended up going with the much more affordable Shop&Ship instead. The reason I never signed up to MyUS even years later was their expensive shipping prices and fees. MyUS have different membership fees, the standard involves paying just $10 to open an account and no annual fee, but you don’t get the best shipping rates and you can’t consolidate your packages. To get the best deal you would have to sign up to their “premium” package but that costs $20 to setup and either $7 a month or $60 a year in membership fees. Recently though I found out that MyUS had special rates for credit card holders (which I posted here) where they not only waved all the setup fees but also offered additional discounts on shipping. I ended up signing up with my AMEX card which entitled me to free membership for 2 years as well as 30% off all my shipments.

Since I’m heading to SoleDXB next weekend I decided to order a backpack for the trip. I couldn’t risk shipping it with Shop&Ship and have it arrive after my trip so I sent it to MyUS mailbox instead. It was a bit risky since I hadn’t used my MyUS account yet but figured this would be the best way to test them out.


MyUS allows you to customize a lot of different account options if you want to, for example they deal with a variety of shipping companies but if you have a preference you can say always use DHL or always use FedEx but by default its set on “Least Expensive Option”. You can also setup your account to ship packages as soon as they arrive or hold them until you choose to ship them. For an extra fee you can have them photograph the item for you, ship same day, add fragile stickers, add extra packing, discard shoe boxes and a bunch of more options. The different settings can be a bit overwhelming but you can not bother with them at all if you don’t want to.

Once my package got delivered to MyUS it popped up in my account on the same day. I then logged into my account and told them to ship it for me and this is where things weren’t as pretty as Borderlinx. With Borderlinx before you give the shipping order you’ll know exactly how much the shipping fee would cost as well as the customs fee, with MyUS you won’t know until your package is already shipped. I found that a bit uncomfortable since I’m not used to saying ship without knowing exactly how much it’s going to cost me. In any case a few hours later I got an email saying my package was shipped with FedEx and my credit card was charged. So I logged into my account to check and see how much it cost me. Based on the size of the package and weight, the package cost $93.74 to ship with insurance. With my 30% AMEX discount the price went down to $67.42. I took the package dimensions and weight and plugged them into the Borderlinx shipping cost calculator and ended up with an $85 shipping fee without insurance. Not a bad amount of savings but I was now worried about the customs fee. Borderlinx quoted me $52 for customs while with MyUS I needed to wait until the package arrived to Kuwait to find out. Three days later my package arrived to Kuwait and the total customs fee was around $30, I was relieved.

I saved around $40 by using MyUS over Borderlinx and the package arrived just as fast. MyUS has now officially become my go to mailbox for when I need my packages ASAP. I still find it uncomfortable to have them charge my credit card without knowing how much it’s going to cost me first but I’m just going to have to get used to it I guess. If you’re interested in signing up, make sure you check my previous post on MyUS to know how much you can save using which credit card. [Link]

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Pizzeria Volpe

Post by Mark


Pizzeria Volpe is a new Neapolitan pizzeria that has been open in Mahboula for a couple of months. The pizzeria is a small hole in the wall place with just three tables inside and a couple of more outside. The pizza chef is a Kuwaiti who studied and got his certificate under the famous chef Enzo Coccia. Enzo runs the pizzeria La Notizia in Naples which was the first pizzeria in the world to be recommended by the influential Michelin Guide and fork. Volpe are still in their soft launch stage but I passed by anyway earlier this week to try them out. We were two people so we ended up ordering:

Garlic Bread KD2.000
Margherita con Funghi KD4.500
Peperoni Pizza KD5.000
Pistachio Dessert KD2.750


The first thing that arrived was the Garlic bread and it was super garlicy and delicious. Lots of flavor and when there was one piece left on the plate I wanted it. After the garlic bread the pizzas came one after the other. The pizzas were both great and similar in style and taste to traditional Neapolitan except for one minor edge, the Kuwaiti chef rubs a bit of garlic oil around the edge of the pizza to make the crust edge more enjoyable to eat. It works. It’s not as powerful in flavor as the garlic bread but you definitely get some flavor. Finally for dessert we ordered their Pistachio dessert. Not sure if I should call it Pistachio bread or pistachio pizza but whatever the actual term is doesn’t matter, the dessert was actually the best part of the whole dinner. It’s probably the single dish that would make me want to drive out all the way out to Mahboula again. Even though they had a Nutella pizza I really wanted to try something new and the pistachio pizza turned out to be a ridiculously great alternative.


If you live in Mahboula or in the vicinity, Pizzeria Volpe is a no brainer, probably the best pizza place in the area if not the only authentic pizza place there. On the other hand is it worth the drive from the city all the way to Mahboula? That I’m not so sure about although the pistachio dessert is definitely worth trying out at least once. Pizzeria Volpe is open from Saturday to Thursday, 7:30PM to 10PM. Here is their location on [Google Maps]

Update: Based on the comments it seems Volpe are randomly closed sometimes so might be better to give them a call on 98927436 before you head there.

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Arirang Korean Restaurant

Post by Mark


Last week I passed by the Arirang Korean restaurant for lunch and it turned out to be a pretty disappointing experience to be honest. It was such an unexciting experience I’m actually forcing myself to write this review.

Arirang has been open for nearly three years and they’re located inside the Swiss-Belhotel Plaza (inside Muthana Complex). The location at one point was an Indian restaurant, a Kuwaiti restaurant and possibly a Chinese restaurant before finally becoming a Korean restaurant. So far the Korean restaurant has lasted the longest but not really sure why.

The interior is fairly decent looking I guess, it’s very spacious and the booths look cozy although awkwardly large for just a couple to just sit in alone.

We were three people and so we ended up ordering the following:
Beef Dumplings x 2 KD2.500 each
Shrimp Teppanyaki KD5.500
Bulgogi KD7.000
Galbi Pot KD7.000

Now here is where things started going downhill. Firstly there was only one waiter for the restaurant which is fine considering we were the only occupied table. But, because of the way the restaurant is laid out, the waiter was always at the main entrance while we were all the way inside. That meant whenever we needed anything we would have to get up and walk down a corridor to call him. It then took 50 minutes for them to serve us our starters (the dumplings) which was absurd considering we were the only customers there. Finally when the main courses arrived, the only dish that was any good was the Shrimp Teppanyaki… a non Korean dish. I had the Bulgogi which was dry and bland while Galbi Pot although looked great presentation wise, the dish was just too fatty. Once piece of rib for example had fat the size of a golf ball on it.

Maybe I visited the place on a bad day I’m not sure but I do know I didn’t enjoy the experience. They also have pretty strong competition since the popular Koryokwan Korean Restaurant is located across the street from them. But then again, if they’ve bene open for three years it must mean they have a loyal fan base, I just don’t know why.

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iPhone 6 Followup Review

Post by Mark

Late last month I picked up my iPhone 6 from Geant and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s been just over two weeks now and the phone still hasn’t grown on me. The biggest issue I had with the iPhone 6 was the size, it’s just too big to use with one hand and two weeks later this remains my biggest issue with the phone. But, if that wasn’t enough, two more annoying issues have popped up as well.

I tend to leave my phone on silent most of the time because the vibration is usually strong enough to be felt and loud enough to be heard, or at least that was the case with my iPhone 5. With the new iPhone 6 the vibration is so much more weaker and quieter that I started missing a lot calls and now no longer keep my phone on silent.

The second issue I’ve been having with the phone is the grip since the phone constantly slips out of my hand. It probably has to do with the fact the edges are really curved and the phone is pretty wide making it difficult to get a good grip.

On the plus side everything else about the phone is just way better than my iPhone 5. I just wish Apple made the iPhone in three different sizes.

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Meet the Rally Fighter

Post by Mark


The Rally Fighter is a badass looking car designed and built by the US company Local Motors. It was recently featured in the latest Transformers movie, in Jay Leno’s Garage, Top Gear and it’s also in Forza Horizon 2 which comes out today on the Xbox One. It’s a very rare car and we are lucky to have two in Kuwait (same owner). I first found out about the Rally Fighters coming to Kuwait by mistake, back at the end of 2013 Local Motors posted a video on YouTube in which they mentioned they were building two cars for a client in Kuwait and then in a second video they mentioned that Rally Fighter cars might end up being built in Kuwait as well. I posted those two videos and luckily for me the owner of the two cars also happens to read my blog. He contacted me right after I posted the first video and told me he’d let me in on the whole story as well as let me take one of the cars out for a spin once they arrived. Fast forward to last week and I finally got the call to take one of the cars out.


The Rally Fighter isn’t a mass produced car, it’s kind of a kit car but not really and there is nothing on the road that looks like it. The Rally Fighter looks like a car from Mad Max or a car that was built out of other cars right after a world apocalypse. Calling it badass is really an understatement. The car is pretty high off the ground and has large tires so if you’re not tall, getting into it will be an accomplishment. When I first got in the first thing I noticed was how poor the visibility was. Right in front of me I had the front left car pillar which would usually be located further left and out of my direct line of sight. Because the pillar was right in front of me it made the car feel claustrophobic and the whole seating position didn’t help either. The foot pedals were really far away and I had to move the seat pretty close to the steering wheel to be able to touch them and I’m 6’1 so shorter people would definitely have issues. The steering wheel also wasn’t very adjustable and in my seating position I couldn’t see the speedometer because the steering wheel was covering it. This proved to be an issue on the highway when I was struggling not to speed and get caught by the cameras. The foot pedals were also pretty far apart so the natural way to drive the car is one foot on the brake and the other on the gas like a proper rally driver.


I picked up the car from Starbucks in Bida’a and headed from there out towards my favorite spot in the desert so I could take some photos. The Rally Fighter has a V8 6.2L 430HP engine so trying to keep it from exceeding 120km/h on the highway was difficult. What made the task even harder was that I couldn’t really see how fast I was going because the steering wheel was covering the speedometer. The ride to my spot was long and this is definitely not a car I would want to take on long highway trips. It was a hot day and the AC couldn’t keep up so it was pretty warm in the car, I would hate to be driving this in the middle of July. The interior is pretty barebones and feels cheap. They ordered a carbon fiber trim but that turned out to be carbon fiber stickers which were haphazardly stuck on the dashboard. The leather trim on top of the dashboard had already separated from the dashboard because of the heat and the windows left a gap at the top which not only let in hot air from the outside but would also let in rain come winter. The interior felt like a kit car even though the car isn’t priced like one (more on that later). While the car looked great from the outside the interior was so bland that I had trouble trying to capture a nice shot of it. The car is a two door but it does have rear seats although it’s made for kids since any adult sitting the back would either hit their head on the rear window or the roll cage.


I’ve driven quite a few interesting cars and been in even more but I’ve never driven one or been in one that garnered as much attention as the Rally Fighter. Cars were literally hovering around me from every angle on the highway trying to record video or take photos of it. I’m fairly positive there is a video of me on YouTube driving the car. It sticks out on the road like a sore thumb and no one has any idea what the hell it is. This brings me to the next subject on why I think the price is crazy yet not so crazy as well. The base price of the car starts at around $100,000. With the options, shipping and registration in Kuwait you’ll end up paying around KD40,000. For that price you could pick up both a Porsche Cayman and a Ford Raptor (which is just as capable off-road) so yeah I do think 40K is over priced. But, there is another way to look at this as well. This isn’t an everyday car, this isn’t a car you’ll trade in your comfy saloon for, this is a car built with a specific task and so it’s a rich mans toy, it’s your third or forth car. I don’t know of any other car at this price range or less that captures as much attention as this, maybe the KTM Xbow or the Aerial Atom but there really aren’t that many. In a market where no one gives a Ferrari or McLaren a second glance, the Rally Fighter with all the attention is gets seems like good value at 40K. But, the owner seems to think the car isn’t ready for the GCC market just yet which is why he’s abandoned plans of opening a Rally Fighter factory in Kuwait.

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My iPhone 6 Review

Post by Mark


I got a surprise phone call from Geant earlier in the month. At first I thought it might have something to do with the comments under my post from the previous day on customer service in Kuwait but it turned out to be unrelated. Instead, someone over the phone wanted to give me an iPhone 6 to review for the blog and the timing couldn’t have been better since I was thinking of pre-ordering one the following day from the Apple store website. At first I thought it was a bit odd that Geant was the one calling me up this year to review the iPhone since the previous years have always been electronics stores but then again, I’ve bought countless electronics from Geant myself without realizing it, my TV, two printers, a scanner and a bunch of external hard drives and memory sticks. So once they got the phones last week, I passed by their 360 Mall branch and picked up my unit.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the phone since there are a million websites out there who have reviewed the phone thoroughly. Not only that but I don’t think majority of the people care if the battery lasts an extra hour or if the screen is slightly sharper or at least I don’t. The improvements year by year aren’t as drastic as they once were and I was perfectly happy with my iPhone 5 (not even an S) even though it was scratched up, dented and one of the volume buttons did’t work. The only reason I wanted to upgrade my phone was because the app 1Password would now unlock using my fingerprint and that would save me so much time instead of having to type out my very long and complicated master password.


When I first picked up the iPhone 6 last week my first reaction was oh no, they accidentally gave me the larger iPhone 6 Plus. Compared to the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 looks and feels huge. I liked the size of the iPhone 5 and I really don’t need a larger screen and I definitely don’t need a larger phone. Even though I’ve gotten used to the size of the phone now I still think Apple should have kept the previous screen size. Navigating the phone with one hand is a lot more difficult now even though you can double tap the home key and have the whole screen shift down closer to your thumb. That’s an extra step I didn’t need before. My biggest concern though was if it would fit in my shorts. My running and cycling shorts have a small pocket in the back where I put my iPhone in so I could listen to music while exercising. It was already a pretty tight fit with the iPhone 5 so I was worried the iPhone 6 wouldn’t fit and that would be a deal breaker for me #firstworldproblems. Luckily, my shorts use a stretchy material for the pocket so the iPhone 6 fit without issues.

Size aside everything else is fairly similar. The camera is slightly better the screen is a bit sharper, the battery life a bit better and compared to my iPhone 5, the phone definitely feels a lot faster. The only other major difference compared to the previous iPhone is the way it looks. It’s a much more slicker looking iPhone this year, it’s curvy and more comfortable to hold in your hands but I also feels it looks very generic and lacks the character of the previous generations. As I mentioned earlier, my iPhone 5 is just covered in dents and scratches, it had taken a lot of abuse from me and somehow I only cracked the screen once. I’m not very sure how much abuse the new iPhone will take, my gut tells me I’m going to end up cracking the screen very soon but hopefully that’s not the case.


Do I like the iPhone 6?
Yes I do, I do wish it was smaller but I’m getting used to this size. On the main home screen I’ve moved the apps I use the most to the lower half of the screen for easy access and I’m getting the hang of the double tap for reachability feature.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5S?
No, you don’t need to. The biggest feature I’m using with my iPhone 6 is the fingerprint scanner and the 5S has that.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5?
No, you don’t need to, not unless you need the fingerprint scanner.

Should you upgrade if you own anything older than an iPhone 5?
You don’t but you probably should, the speed difference is considerable, the newer cameras are much better, your battery is probably getting old by now and not holding a charge like it once used to and iOS8 needs one of the newer phones to run reasonably well.

Geant are selling the iPhone 6 starting at KD269.990 for the 16GB, KD299.990 for the 64Gb and KD369.990 for the 128GB. I think 64GB is the best size, 16GB is just too small and 128GB too big unless you’re never deleting your photos and videos from your phone. The iPhone 6 Plus is more expensive, they start at KD399.990 for the 16GB, KD449.990 for the 64Gb and KD489.990 for the 128GB. No one under the age of 60 should be getting an iPhone 6 Plus, if you want a tablet get an iPad mini and if you want a phone then get the iPhone 6.

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A Sushi Place Called Sushi

Post by Mark


Last night I headed to dinner with a friend to Thai Chow King, my favorite Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurant. But, when we got there it turned out the place was closed because it was Sunday. So I quickly started thinking of another place to go and I remembered that earlier in the day someone had told me about a new Sushi place that was open in Courtyard by Marriott. Supposedly it was better than EDO so we decided to head there to try it out.

The restaurant is called Sushi, they been open since June and are located in the main lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Kuwait City. I didn’t know how packed they would be so I called them up when I was on my way and made a reservation for two but when I got there only one table was occupied by what I assume was a hotel guest. Right as we sat down the waitress came up and told us that since we arrived before 8PM we would still be eligible for their happy hour and everything on the menu was 50% off. Hearing that we proceeded to order the following:

Crab Stick Salad KD4.100
Edamame KD1.500
Miso Soup (x2) KD2.400
Maguro (Tuna Sashimi) KD3.500
Hamachi (Yellowtail Sashimi) KD4.250
Shake (Salmon Sashimi) KD2.500
Unagi (Eel) KD5.000
Maguro (Tuna Sushi) KD2.000
Supreme Maki Roll KD5.000
Spider Maki Roll KD4.000
Flying Salmon Roll KD4.000
Shrimp Tempura KD3.250

I didn’t take any pictures of the dishes since I don’t always want to be that annoying person during dinner, but in any case, everything looked exactly like you would expect it everywhere else. Everything except for the Miso Soup that is, the Miso Soup. The Miso Soup arrived on a large slab with the bowl filled with Miso and three different solid ingredients located on the side, the tofu, seaweed and spring onions. You get to mix the ingredients into the bowl yourself which adds a bit of interaction to what usually is a straightforward dish. From all the items the only dish that really grabbed my attention was the Unagi which was smoked eel, grilled and covered in a sweet sauce. We weren’t planning to order this at first but the waitress recommended it and I was glad she did. On the other hand the worst of the bunch had to be the Supreme Maki and Spider Maki rolls. The Spider Maki rolls contained soft shell crab but it just tasted very bland while the Supreme Maki was a lobster roll that tasted like cocktail sauce which put me off. Everything else was fairly decent but definitely not better than EDO.


Now there are a few pros and cons about the place. The ambiance could be an issue, if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and private, Sushi is for you. If you’re looking for a more lively atmosphere and a place where you can go and be seen, look elsewhere. While writing this review I also noticed we never got served the Flying Salmon even though it was in the bill. That’s not too bad of a hit though because at the end we got the 50% happy hour discount. So even though the original bill came out over KD40, we ended up paying just KD22.700. Which brings me to another subject.

Satchi no longer have the cheapest Salmon Sashimi in Kuwait, the new title holder is Sushi at Courtyard because with their happy hour discount their salmon sashimi comes out to just KD1.250.

So if you’re interested in trying them out, they’re open from 12PM to 3PM and then again from 7PM to 11PM. They’re closed on Fridays and happy hour is everyday from 7PM to 8PM. Just call ahead to make sure they still have the happy hour since the waitress kind of hinted this is a temporary thing (most likely to attract people). Their phone number is 22997000.

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Vine Mediterranean Restaurant

Post by Mark


The other day when I wrote about Semsom I mentioned if anyone knew of a place that made tabbouleh with quinoa to let me know. Turns out a small restaurant in Bnied Al-Gar does called Vine. Vine has been open for around nine months now and it’s a nice looking hole in the wall fusion mediterranean restaurant.


I passed by at around 12:30PM for an early lunch and the place was empty. Right as soon as I sat down this very friendly woman welcomed me. She looked like she might have been the head chef but it was difficult to figure her out since she was also the waitress and the person that takes the orders on the phone. Thinking about it she might even be one of the owners even. Right as soon as I sat down and without me asking, she brought over a bottle of Acqua Panna water and opened it for me. Not a big deal since I actually wanted water but that move would definitely irritate people who didn’t. The menu was located on their iPad so I flipped through it quickly and then asked the waitress for her recommendations. Even though they had a whole bunch of different kinds of tabbouleh I knew I wanted to try the quinoa version, I also knew I wanted hummus and after discussing it with her I went for the edamame one. She also recommended the kubba quinoa for starters while for the main course she recommended I go for the kafta yort oglo which I also did. So in the end my order was the following:

Tabbouleh Quinoa KD3.000
Kubba Quinoa KD3.250
Hummus Edamame KD1.900
Kafta Yort Glo KD4.750


Before the food started arriving I was served some complimentary bread and cheese. I also asked for some olives which turned out to be delicious. While waiting for the starters I took a good look at the place. There were around 6 or 7 tables which is pretty good for a hole in the wall and I also liked their purple colored window shades which were letting in some beautiful light. The first dishes to arrive were the tabbouleh and hummus, the tabbouleh served in a cute little jar. The hummus was alright, I didn’t taste a lot of edamame in it and I actually prefer the one at Katsuya more than this. The tabbouleh was pretty good but made slightly different from the one I had tried at a restaurant in Lebanon. The one I had in Lebanon the actual quinoa was fully cooked to the point where the germ had separated from the seed. In Vine’s tabbouleh, the quinoa wasn’t fully cooked so the germ was still inside the seed so I really couldn’t taste the quinoa in the tabbouleh. The kubba quinoa arrived soon after and even though I couldn’t taste the quinoa in it as well I still thought it was delicious and my favorite starter of the three. If only they had a healthier baked version instead of fried that would have been perfect. Finally my kafta yort oglo arrived which was composed of kafta covered in laban sauce and pine nuts. Like everything else the presentation was first-rate but also like everything else, it wasn’t a dish that stuck out or would make me want to come back again.


Once I was done with my food I couldn’t ask for the bill since there was no one in the restaurant. I waited a bit and at one point I was thinking of going back into the kitchen to look for someone. I decided to stay put and finally after a few more minutes of just waiting, the waitress came out apologizing for being gone for so long. That made it slightly better and I asked for the bill. Price wise I think it’s fairly reasonable, I ordered enough food for two people and the bill came out to KD13.900 which isn’t too bad. Overall, even though the food wasn’t extraordinary and the service slightly careless, I actually had a pleasant experience. Maybe because I was in a good mood, or maybe because I love hole in the walls but I’d probably go back and try some of their other dishes. For more information you can check them out on instagram @vinekwt

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Semsom Lebanese Restaurant

Post by Mark


Semsom is another restaurant that’s located in Arabella and also one that has been open for a few months now. They aren’t a traditional Lebanese restaurant, instead they describe themselves as a traditional Lebanese restaurant with a twist. The “twist” aspect is what attracted me and was the main reason I’ve been wanting to try them out for awhile now.


Semsom is split into two floors, the lower floor is smoke free while the upper floor is a smoking zone. As a non-smoker I thought that was great but I was with a smoker on this trip so we originally sat upstairs. I say originally because after sitting there for 5 minutes we decided to move down into the smoke free zone. The top floor was a bit gloomy and claustrophobic when compared to the lower level which had large windows spanning from one side of the restaurant till the other. Flipping through the menu I was kind of disappointed since I was expecting a lot more dishes as well as lot more twists compared to other Lebanese restaurants. In the end we settled for the following:


Hummus with with Sumac & Zaatar KD1.600
Tabbouleh with Lentils KD2.000
Makanek KD2.450
Taouk Light with Fattoush KD3.800
Regular Chicken Taouk KD4.600


The hummus was served first arriving pink in color which I was expecting from the pictures. Since hummus is such a common and traditional dish I always love seeing different variations of it and this one was a pretty interesting one. It was light in flavor but combined with their hot fresh puffy bread it was perfect even though I should have been low carbing that day. The tabbouleh also worked out really well, instead of using the traditional burghul, Semsom uses lentils. A nice twist yes but while in Lebanon around two weeks ago I discovered an even better twist. Instead of using burghul, the place I had tabbouleh at had replaced burghul with quinoa and I found that to be a genius combination. So if any restaurant in Kuwait wants to copy that combo please feel free to do so and then let me know about it. The last mezza to arrive was the makanek and from all the dishes I had, the makanek had to be the best one. Not sure what their secret is but I’m guessing its all in the sauce. Finally our main course arrived. The chicken although tasted good didn’t look very appetizing and it also lacked any sort of twist that would distinguish it from the countless of taouks you could have anywhere else.


Overall a positive but unexciting experience. The service was fast and friendly and the price of the dishes was similar to other Lebanese restaurants so that’s fine. I was just expecting more fusion dishes on the menu and as it is there really wasn’t enough to win me over. If you’re interested, Semsom is located in Arabella and you can visit their website for more information [Here]

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ORA Japanese Tapas

Post by Mark


ORA is a Japanese Tapas restaurant that opened around 3 months ago in Arabella. I was out of the country when I was originally invited for a tasting and then only managed to finally pass by and try it out last week. The story behind ORA is an interesting one, five friends from Kuwait who went to school in California met Executive Chef Tiger at Katsuya in Beverly Hills. One thing led to another and the five friends came back to Kuwait with Chef Tiger and together they created ORA.


Most of the people go to ORA in the evening but I headed there with a friend for lunch since I wanted natural daylight for my photos. At night the place is very dim and from what I’ve been told the place is usually packed and the atmosphere makes you feel like you’re in Dubai. That’s generally the best compliment you can give to a place here… when it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in Kuwait. We ended up ordering the following dishes:

Yellowtail Tacos KD5.500
Salmon Crab Avocado Salad (x2) KD9.000
Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna KD3.500
Tiger Shrimp Tempura Roll KD4.750
Yellowtail Chili Miso KD6.500
Donburi Short Rib KD5.500
Chocolate & Salted Caramel Bread Pudding KD3.750

Chef Tiger was the Executive Chef at Katsuya in Brentwood, Los Angeles for four years before helping them open their locations in Hollywood and Glendale. He has an extensive background with Katsuya and that inspiration is reflected in his dishes. Like Katsuya you can’t compare ORA to regular traditional Japanese restaurants since the dishes are much more evolved. From all the dishes we had my favorite probably had to be the Yellowtail Chili Miso with my least favorite being the Salmon Crab Avocado Salad. I still think EDO has the best Salmon Crab Avocado Salad but my issue with the one at ORA was it was just a bit too safe of a dish compared to everything else we had. Unlike the other dishes it didn’t look like it was taken to the next step, one that would allow it to be distinguished from all the other Salmon Crab Avocado Salads in Kuwait. I wasn’t planning on having dessert but I was glad I did. Instead of using bread for their Chocolate & Salted Caramel Bread Pudding, ORA use croissant which makes it super fluffy while probably adding another thousand calories. But, the chef has somehow managed to make it taste very light which resulted in my original plan of having just one bite fail miserably.


One thing that really stuck out for me was the service, not only were the waiters quiet, fast and well informed, but at least with our waiter he made us feel like we were at a spa since he was very soothing and borderline therapeutic. The interior of ORA is another thing I liked about the place. It’s a beautiful minimal space and from all the restaurants at Arabella probably the nicest looking and most luxurious. Speaking of luxury, I found the prices at ORA fairly reasonable for this style of place. Sure if you order one of the lobster dishes you’re going to end up paying upwards of KD20 but majority of the items are all well within reach. Their prices are actually similar to Katsuya and MAKI but the place manages to feel a lot more upscale which makes it a perfect place for dates and special occasions. Our bill came out to KD45 and that included food, beverages and tips. The only negative aspect about ORA is the fact that it’s in Arabella which itself isn’t very luxurious. Right on top of ORA is Margherita the pizza place and right across ORA is Texas Roadhouse and there is a Pinkberry on top of that. There’s a large Red Lobster at the main entrance with an Olive Garden in front of it as well. Arabella kinda feels like an outdoor food court because of all the franchises.


I liked ORA a lot and it’s a place I would definitely go back to. Also unlike most restaurants who bring in big international chefs, Chef Tiger is here to stay and he’s brought along two of his sous chefs with him so the food should continue to remain good. ORA is open from 12PM to 4PM and then again from 6PM till 12AM. It’s always better to call ahead for reserverations and their number is 22275090. For more information you can check out their instagram @ora_kw

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