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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Brunch at The Cheesecake Factory

Posted by Mark

I passed by The Cheesecake Factory at The Avenues this morning for breakfast. Every Saturday morning from 10AM to 2PM they have a special brunch menu and I was curious to try their pancakes since I had heard they were really good. I ended up ordering two dishes for myself, the Monte Cristo Sandwich and the Buttermilk Pancakes. What is the Monte Cristo? This is the description from their website:

Monte Cristo Sandwich
Crunchy French Toast Stuffed with Bacon, Grilled Ham, Scrambled Eggs and Melted Swiss Cheese Dusted with Powdered Sugar and Served with Strawberry Preserves.

The Monte Cristo was ridiculously good, probably my favorite breakfast dish right now. Their pancakes now are also easily my favorite pancakes in Kuwait. They were really fluffy and light and I had to stop myself from finishing them. Which brings me to a very important problem with this breakfast.

THE CALORIES!

If you’re a calorie counter you’re in for a treat. The Monte Cristo Sandwich is a whopping 1,618 calories while the Buttermilk Pancakes are 1,310 calories. Try to figure out a way to burn those.

Service was so so. Took me a few tries to explain to the waiter I wanted pancakes and even when I pointed at it in the menu he thought I was pointing at another dish. I also told him to bring all the food together but my Monte Cristo came first. Not major issues but still worth noting. The pancakes cost KD3 while the Monte Cristo I think was KD4.250. I highly recommend both dishes and it’s too bad they only serve them on Saturdays. Oh and of course I wish they were both just 500 calories combined instead of being nearly 3,000…


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Review: Thai Chow King Restaurant

Posted by Mark

Thai Chow King is a small hole in the wall Thai food restaurant that was recommended to me by one of my readers. It’s a tiny place run by a Thai family. The father who used to work at Sheraton before does the cooking while his wife waits on tables. This little gem of a place has suddenly become my favorite Thai food place.

I passed by for lunch today with a friend and we ended up ordering the following dishes:

Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp KD1.500
Tom Kha Kai Soup with Shrimp KD1.500
Shrimp on Toast KD1.500
Fried Shrimp Wanton KD1.500
Seafood Salad KD1.500
Red Curry Beef KD1.500
Pad Thai with Chicken KD1.250
Mixed Vegetables KD1.250
Chicken with Cashew KD1.500
Steamed Rice KD0.500
Large Water KD0.250

Notice anything with the prices? The most expensive dishes we had cost just KD1.500! This place is such a good deal specially since the food was really good. The curry was delicious, the pad thai was also really good and the chicken with cashew dish was nice and crispy (although had only 2 cashew pieces). Even the shrimp on toast and fried wantons were appetizing and served with great tasting dips.

The restaurant is small with just 5 tables and every dish on the menu has a picture next to it which makes choosing something very easy. I really can’t think of anything to fault about the place. I loved it and how could I not when the food was delicious, filling and our bill came out to just KD13.750.

Thai Chow King is located in Al-Regae and their phone numbers are 24893338 or 66527388. Finding them is easy, here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Review and Giveaway

Posted by Mark

A few weeks back the local photography store AAB World provided me with the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 full frame lens to try out. My current collection of lenses that I use with my Nikon D800 are the Nikon 24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8. So at 35mm, the Sigma fit snugly between the 24mm and 50mm lens. Actually a bit too snugly because I stopped using both those lenses while I had the Sigma with me.

The first thing that caught my attention with the Sigma lens was the build quality. The lens is a lot larger than both my prime lenses and due to its all metal casing it felt more durable and a lot more solid. The reason I love prime lenses is because they’re so bright and with an open aperture of f/1.4, this Sigma lens is really bright.

I used the lens frequently during the period I had it with me and the 35mm range proved to be very versatile. The physical size of the lens didn’t bother me much and I actually found the larger lens easier to grip and balance the camera with while shooting. Nikon also have their own 35mm f/1.4 lens but costs around KD470 on Amazon. The Sigma on the other hand is selling for KD240 locally (cheaper than Amazon). That’s nearly half the price for what is basically a very similar lens. The lens is also available for Canon cameras.

If you own a full frame Canon or Nikon camera then you’re in for a treat because AAB World want to give away one of these lenses to my readers. The only requirement needed to win this lens is for you to own a full frame Nikon or Canon camera. To get a chance to win this lens just post the model of your camera in the comments below and I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow night using random.org.

Rules: Only one entry per person and please make sure you use a working email since the winner will be contacted by email. If winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours another winner will be randomly chosen. When collecting the prize you NEED to have your full frame camera with you.

If your camera isn’t one of the following you don’t qualify
Canon – 6D, 1D X, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, 5D, 1Ds Mk III, 1Ds Mk II, 1Ds
Nikon – D3, D3X, D3S, D4, D600, D700, D800

Update: I’ve closed the post for commenting and will be conducting the random draw this weekend.


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Review: Organica Fish & Chips

Posted by Mark

Organica Fish & Chips has been open for a couple of years now but I just got to pass by and try it today. I ordered the large fish & chips platter which included 2 pieces of fish along with chips in addition I ordered an extra side order of calamari. I went to the Salmiya branch which has a lot of seating inside but since it was a nice sunny day I decided to sit outside.

While waiting for my meal I got served lemonade which I thought was a nice thing to do. Once my fish & chips basket came I snapped a few pictures before I dug in. I thought the whole basket tasted pretty bland and between the calamari and the fish I think I preferred the calamari. The tartar sauce which I personally believe makes or breaks a meal wasn’t that great either but it did help add some much needed flavor to the meal. On a side note if you want to know what good tartar sauce tastes like go to try it at Sheraton Hotel. Finally the chips were the most disappointing part of the meal, they were undercooked and soft which was a let down.

Overall, even though the fish basket didn’t awestruck me I still think it’s a good place to pass by for a quick bite. It’s not located in a mall, there’s lots of seating, places to park and the food was above average. Price wise the large fish & chips platter goes for KD3.750 (KD2.750 for the small) while the extra calamari cost me an additional KD1.400. They have three locations around Kuwait and if you want to find out more you can visit their website [Here]


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My KitchenAid 6.9L Mixer

Posted by Mark

Just before Christmas I decided to get myself a KitchenAid mixer. Originally I wanted to get the regular 4.8L mixer similar to the one I reviewed back in 2011 but it turned out there was a new larger 6.9L KitchenAid mixer and I ended up getting that instead.

I used to think the regular KitchenAid mixer was pretty hardcore but once I saw the 6.9L version the regular one started looking pretty tame. Other than the obvious size difference the other thing that sticks out is the fact with the 6.9L KitchenAid the head doesn’t tilt. Instead, the bowl is locked into place and then lifted up towards the mixer head. Not sure what the advantage of this is but I like it better this way.

Since I got the mixer I’ve baked an apple pie, five different brownies, a cake and muffins. I could have done them all with the regular sized mixer but I realized my mixing is a lot less messier using the 6.9L mixer since with the larger bowl, whatever is inside it tends to stay inside. Also because you can raise or lower the bowl to the mixing head I tend to lower the bowl first before I stop the mixer and that way whatever is stuck on the paddle or whisk gets released into the bowl.

The 6.9L mixer has one major disadvantage over the regular 4.8L KitchenAid mixer and that is the lack of colors. While with the 4.8L mixer you have 29 different colors to choose from, with the 6.9L version you’re limited to just 5. The other more obvious downside is the price. The 6.9L mixer is more expensive than the smaller 4.8L mixer and it’s selling for KD283 here in Kuwait. Whichever you end up getting be it the 4.8L or 6.9L they’re both a lot of fun to use.

I got my KitchenAid from the dealer Mabrook in Shuwaikh but I also spotted them for sale at Williams-Sonoma. If you’re interested, here is a link to the Kuwait KitchenAid page on Facebook [Link]


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Thule 970XT Helium Bike Carrier

Posted by Mark

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

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

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

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

Thule 970XT on Amazon
Thule 970XT on Mr Babu


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The Camaro ZL1

Posted by Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Review: The Nintendo Wii U

Posted by Patrick

Wii U 1

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

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

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

Wii U + gamepad

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

Read the rest of this entry »


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