Bubó – A new Spanish restaurant opening soon in Kuwait

Post by Mark

I’ve only been to Spain once and it was a couple of years ago on a work related trip. There are two things I still remember from my trip, the fantastic food and the unbelievably amazing Sangrias. Luckily for us both will be available really soon in Kuwait… and yes, even the Sangrias.

The new place that’s opening up is called Bubó. Bubó is a popular pastry store in Barcelona created by Catalan Pastry Chef Carles Mampel and he’s opening his first location outside Spain here in Kuwait. Carles is an award winning pastry chef with a number of achievements including “Best Master Pastry Chef in Spain in 1999” and winning the prize for the world´s best chocolate cake in 2005. In 2008 he was also incorporated into Relais Dessert. I had no idea what that was until today. It turns out Relais Dessert is like the Michelin Star of pastry chefs and it’s very difficult to earn and keep since they limit it to just 80 members around the world at any given time. In the Arab world for example there is only one Relais Dessert chef and it’s Lionel Pelle of Pâtisserie Cannelle in Beirut. In England there is only one and in the whole of the US there is also just one Relais Dessert chef. So Bubó will be the second store in the Arab world with a Relais Dessert so that’s pretty cool for us.

In addition to pastries the local Bubó will also serve over 20 different kind of tapas. Tapas are very popular in Spain and they’re basically appetizers, kinda like the Lebanese mezza. As I mentioned earlier they’re also going to have Sangarias… virgin Sangarias without any alcohol which should be interesting.

I sat with the local GM of Bubó as well as Carles Mampel and they really sold me on the whole concept which is why I can’t wait until they open next month. Carles explained to me how they have three important things they focus on with their food, health, quality of the food and presentation. Their food isn’t healthy as in diet kind of healthy but their food is healthy because it’s all made with natural ingredients. They do everything in house be it their mustard or the roasting of the hazelnuts. Carles is a control freak and the only way he can control the quality of his food is if he controls the ingredients as well.

The restaurant is located in Al-Ghunaim Tower in Kuwait City. It’s right opposite the parking entrance of Souk Al Watiya which is located behind Sheraton. When you first walk in the area on the right is similar to a casual lounge. It’s in case you just want to meet up with some friends, have coffee and dessert and just chill out. The middle section is made up of tables and chairs for dining be it lunch or dinner. Finally on the far left is where all the pastries will be displayed in jewelry like displays. The place looks pretty cool with a partly black angular ceiling which I think adds the most to the place design wise.

After sitting with Carles and understanding how he thinks and how he dissects ingredients and puts them together, I’ve realized to him the dishes are like an art and science. For example the Relais Dessert group of pastry chefs get together every year and they share new techniques they’ve each created. Carles for example created something called the Balsamic Caviar Vinegar. You can watch a video of how it’s made [Here]. It’s a different and more creative way of adding balsamic to dishes. They always have to innovate and set a certain bar or else they’re out of the Relais Dessert and someone else takes their place. I’ve heard a lot about how stressful a Michelin star is to a chef so I can only imagine how much stress these Relais Dessert members are under since theres only a limited amount of spots.

Price wise they’re still finalizing things but I was told they’ll be competitively priced. They gave me some price examples which I’m not sure I can share but lunch for example with friends would cost less than if you went out for sushi. The reason I’m using sushi as an example is because it’s the only other cuisine I can think of right now where you sit down and order a variety of dishes to share. Actually the Lebanese mezza is another one so their tapas will be priced somewhere between mezza and sushi dishes.


Left to right: Najla Yassin the GM, Jesus Arcas the executive chef and Carles Mampel

They’ve started tastings a few days ago and this is going to go on for another week or so until Carles thinks everything is up to par. I’m most likely going to pass by next week with Nat to try it out but will post another update later on once they officially open up. Should turn out to be pretty cool.


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Sneak Peek: Decathlon Sports Shop

Post by Mark

I passed by Marina Mall tonight since I had read they were opening tonight. But when I got there I noticed the shutters were still down but the lights were on inside and I spotted some employees. So I made a few phone calls and managed to get a tour around the store and take some pictures.

First off, the place is HUGE. I was expecting it to be big but not this big. It’s like a giant supermarket filled with sporting goods. The store is located in Marina Mall where Virgin and a bunch of other smaller shops used to be right across from Cinnabon and The Athletes Foot.

Decathlon is a French brand and most of their stores have 18 different sections but the one in Kuwait will be missing two, climbing and hunting. The other 16 sections in the store are the following (taken from their website):

– Camping
– Running
– Cycling
– Fitness, Dance, Martial Arts
– Swimming
– Surf Sports
– Boating
– Diving
– Teamsports
– Racket Sports
– Horse Riding
– Walking
– Golf
– Roller, Skate, Scooter
– Fishing
– Target Sports

I really loved the place and can’t wait to go back once they open which will hopefully be tomorrow night (Tuesday). They were supposed to open up tonight but due to a technically difficulty they’re now aiming to open by noon tomorrow. If anyone is looking for a watch with a heart rate monitor I spotted an affordable one there for KD12.5.


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Sneak Peek: Al Hamra Tower Mall

Post by Mark

I was visiting one of the soon to open stores at the Al Hamra Tower Mall and decided to snap some pictures of the interior. The mall looks amazing, it’s a lot bigger than I expected (5 floors) and it’s also bright because of the natural daylight that comes in from the skylight. It looks very elegant, I really think it looks great. The mall is officially opening after tomorrow (Tuesday, May 1st) so just two more days left. Here are some pictures:

Update: I just found out the official name which is Al Hamra Luxury Center.


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Sneak Peek: The New Fuddruckers

Post by Mark

I have no idea when the new Gulf Road Fuddruckers branch is going to open but it looks huge so I can’t wait.


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Sneak Peek: ubon

Post by Mark

I got a sneak peek at ubon awhile ago and the place looks amazing. It’s very tastefully done with a mixture of black burnt wood and concrete. I spoke to the owner while there and he told me they’re going to be playing mostly modern jazz which will suit the place a lot. It’s easily easily going to be the coolest looking Thai food place in Kuwait.


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Inside Hamra Tower at Night

Post by Mark

Basil Alsalem (the owner of Slider Station) was at Hamra Tower tonight and snapped some shots of the mall from inside. It’s the first time I see shots of the mall from the inside with the lights on so I thought it was interesting to share. He snapped three shots which you could check out [Here]

So far here are the shops and restaurants I know of that are opening up in Hamra Tower:

Hermes
Le Sushi
Melenzane
Cavali Cafe
Gucci Cafe
Chocolate Bar
Elevation Burger
Panerai Boutique
Behbehani Watches
Harry Winston
Gelatissimo
Adidas
Adidas Originals
Reebok

The tower is scheduled to open in December of this year.


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Sneak Peek: Christian Louboutin

Post by Mark

The Christian Louboutin is currently under construction in Salhiya but judging by their current progress it looks like they’ll probably be opening up right after Eid if not before.


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Sneak Peek: Al Hamra Tower

Post by Mark

One of the best things about blogging is the fact I get invited to check out a lot of cool work in progress projects like Messilah Beach, Missoni Hotel and The Regency Palace. My dad’s an interior designer and as a kid I used to tag along with him on Friday mornings to various construction sites which is why now whenever I get invited to visit one I can never say no. It brings back good childhood memories and that’s why when I was asked if I wanted to tour the Al Hamra Tower I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a big fan of the tower for a long time to get a tour of it before completion would literally be a once in a life time opportunity since they’re only going to build it once.

First a bit of history and some facts. Al Hamra used to be Kuwait’s and the GCC’s first indoor cinema. It had two large theaters, one played Bollywood movies while the other played Western movies. Al Hamra Tower is being built in the same location where Al Hamra Cinema used to be located. It’s currently the second tallest building in the region with Burj Khalifa being the tallest. It’s the tallest asymmetrical structure in the world (no side is like the other side) and it’s also the second tallest concrete building in the world.

So my tour started off with a video presentation of the tower. It wasn’t really boring since there was a presenter and I was able to interrupt and ask questions. After the presentation I was taken to the mall that’s located at the bottom of the tower. The mall is made up of five floors and each floor will be around the size of a floor at Al Raya mall across the street. The fifth floor will hold the Al Hamra Cinema. Whats special about this cinema is the fact it will be the first non-Cinescape theater in 50 years. Back in 1953 Cinescape got a 50 year exclusivity for cinema’s in Kuwait. That exclusivity expired in 2003. The mall will be a luxurious one and having Hermes there is a good start.

Once we were done walking around the mall we headed to the main tower lobby (pictured above) which is really going to be huge when completed. Although the tower is super tall your average wait time for a lift will be under 30 seconds, the lift also travels at a speed of 10 floors a second. To get to the top floor of the tower we had to take a lift up to a lobby on the 54th floor I think and then swap to another lift and continue up to the very last floor.


[YouTube]

Once we got to the last floor it was filled with scaffolding since they still have a few more glass panels they’re installing at the very top. But the space up there is just astonishing, the ceiling is incredibly high and the view is just overwhelming. I shot the video above to try and show what I was experiencing and seeing but you really need to be there (Trivia: Can you tell when I hit my head on a scaffolding? Luckily I was wearing a hard hat!). Once completed this last floor will sadly be a private invite only chairman’s club and not a restaurant like I had previously heard. This means very few people will actually get to enjoy this beautiful view.

It’s hard not to like Al Hamra Tower, it’s an office tower done right and we don’t have many “done right” projects in Kuwait. I really can’t wait for it to launch which should be September of this year. Below are some pictures I took today.

Update: Forgot to mention that the windows will be cleaned by a team of robots and it will take a month to clean all the windows. Burj Khalifa on the other hand employs 36 window cleaners who take 3 months to clean all the windows. Burj Arab I believe uses 2 people who take a full month to clean their windows.


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Sneak Peek: Missoni Hotel

Post by Mark

Back in 2008 I posted about how Missoni Hotel was going to open up here in Kuwait and yesterday I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek tour of the place.

I noticed two things when I first walked into the lobby, the first was the amount of colors that filled the place and the second was the cleaning lady vacuuming using a Dyson. The hotel is full of beautiful summer colors and wild fabric designs that magically seem to all work together. I spent the whole time amazed at how tasteful everything was put together, it’s just incredible the amount of thought and work that went into it.

The second thing I noticed as I mentioned earlier was the Dyson vacuum cleaner but I then also spotted Bang & Olufsen speakers in the lobby ceiling followed by Bang & Olufsen TV’s in the hotel rooms. I even spotted Bodum toasters and very cool looking pots and pans in one of the hotel rooms mini kitchenettes. It’s a hotel that’s design driven, from the typeface the hotel room numbers are written in to the power plug sockets in the wall, everywhere you look you see good design which is very rare to see here in Kuwait.

They have 169 rooms so it’s not a small boutique hotel and the majority of their staff are from Italy so really once you walk into the hotel you could easily forget you were in Kuwait. The rooms had some very beautiful furniture which I right away asked if they were going to be available for purchase (turns out they will be). The hotel launches March 1st and they’re located in Salem Mubarek Street opposite American University of Kuwait in the same building where Symphony Mall is. I shot the pictures in this post but they will be sending me some more pictures which I will add to this post once I get them.

Update: Arabian Business has some more pictures which you can check [Here]


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Sneak Peek: Cocoa Room

Post by Mark

Cocoa Room is a new chocolate dessert concept by Basil AlSalem the Slider Station, Burger Boutique and Open Flame Kitchen creator. It’s his new dessert place that is opening up right next door to Slider Station. Last month I passed by Cocoa Room for the first time with some friends for a tasting session and yesterday night I passed by again with Nat and both times the food was amazing. The current tasting sessions include some new dishes that will end up on the Slider Station menu alongside the new desserts that were created specifically for Cocoa Room. Not sure where to start, maybe with the interior first. It’s small, but very cozy with a custom fitted velvet sofa running seamlessly alongside three walls. You come into Cocoa Room from a small doorway inside Slider Station and at night it’s very dimly lit with a large glass window that overlooks the Slider Station street entrance and waiting area outside. It looks very trendy and wouldn’t feel out of place if you stuck right in the middle of Soho.

Food wise I ate a lot. First time there I had 10 of the potentially new Slider Station dishes and then topped it off with 7 desserts from Cocoa Room. It was beyond filling, I felt like a python that had just devoured a sheep. Yesterday on the other hand I went back for a more moderate tasting session. Instead of eating everything I chose my favorite dishes from my first visit, I had some fried mozzarella balls on a Spanish salsa sauce, a veal and mushroom on potato crust starter, spicy lamb chops called Bangkok on Fire and finally pink spaghetti. For dessert I went with the Oreo fondant, chocolate lollipops and Nutella souffle. One thing I have to highlight here is that the lamb chops were the best lamb chops I ever had anywhere while the freshly made pink spaghetti was the best spaghetti dish I’ve ever had in Kuwait. I actually wanted to go back last night specifically to have those two dishes again. I’m really hoping they’re going to add them on the Slider Station menu very soon because they were really that good.

Now Cocoa Room on the other hand was supposed to open up soon but now the launch might be postponed since they just acquired the space next door so they might end up expanding Coco Room before it even opens. For now though you can enjoy some of the pictures I took below last night.


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