ORA Japanese Tapas

Post by Mark

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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28 comments, add your own...


  1. kuwait says:

    ‘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… that it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in Kuwait.’

    What?

    • ahmed says:

      Yes, very rarely do you go anywhere in Kuwait and there is a vibe, a trendy modern vibe with good food (albeit alcohol in Kuwait), however, in Dubai there are many restaurants with a cool vibe, good food (although many with alcohol). Dubai has professional people building fabulous restaurants with a scene and for Mark to compare this restaurant to restaurants that he has gone to in Dubai is the highest of compliments. Long overdue, possibly this is the only restaurant in Kuwait with ambience. The youth of this nation should bring back what they experience overseas and try to take their country up a notch instead of it drudging through the guetto all the time. It looks like they did a nice job. Kudos to them!!

      • aaa says:

        Uh edo? Among others

      • kuwait says:

        I don’t see how that’s a compliment

        In Dubai, you’re not allowed to drink alcohol in restaurants. Alcohol is only allowed in the bars and hotel restaurants

        The food in Dubai is similar to the food here. Arabella has a nice, modern vibe

        There is nothing free about Dubai. It’s just a mirage. They don’t have any semblance of civil liberties

        Dubai has a modesty dress code, there are posters and signs outside of all of Dubai’s malls telling women to cover up. Several days ago, Dubai police arrested several women who were dressed ‘immodestly’. All Emirati women are covered in black from head to toe. Why?

        In the UAE, the courts still sentence people to flogging. A few years ago, a 15 year old Chinese girl was sentenced to 100 lashes because she committed ‘adultery’. UAE is like a fiefdom.

        Booze and a few night clubs doesn’t make a country free and open

        • Mark says:

          In Dubai you are allowed to drink alcohol in restaurants, as long as the restaurant is connected to a hotel somehow but it doesn’t have to be located inside the hotel lobby for example. On premises is enough and in most cases the restaurants have their own entrance and you never even know theres a hotel in the vicinity.

          The food in Dubai is also not similar to the food here. There are some things we do better in Kuwait (junk food) but when it comes to upscale restaurants, Dubai wins hands down. Theres no competition even.

          If you think the ambiance and general mood of restaurant goers in Kuwait is similar to Dubai, my guess is you haven’t really been out to nice places in Dubai.

          I’m not even gonna mention the great pubs they have there, the restaurants are more than enough to give Dubai the edge.

          Regarding the signs outside malls, they’re also not telling women to cover up, they’re telling women to dress appropriately, there is a difference. Having you ass hanging out of your teeny tiny shorts is not appropriate for example but they’re not telling women not to wear short sleeves for example.

          In Kuwait they still execute people. Execution > Flogging.

          • ahmed says:

            Nobu in DIFC serves alcohol in the restaurant and is not attached to a hotel. I don’t believe the arrests at the mall or the flogging story – that is kuwait bs. A kuwaiti student arriving home from school was so happy to come home, yet he told me when he arrived in KIA he felt so embarrassed for his country. Maybe if Kuwaitis can put together a restaurant like this, they can put enough pressure on the government to upgrade the infrastructure

          • kuwait says:

            Ok, I’m not an expert on Dubai’s restaurants but I’ve been to Dubai Mall and the food tastes the same. Most restaurants in Dubai aren’t connected to hotels

            UAE carries out more executions than Kuwait. Many Western countries still execute people. Even Lebanon, they still execute people. Kuwait rarely carries out executions, except once every 6 years for people who commit serious crimes (like serial rapists)

            In UAE, they flog people who commit lame crimes like pre-marital sex, adultery and drug trafficking

            This is a sign outside of Dubai’s Mall of Emirates telling women to cover their shoulders and knees http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaddy/3685122825/

            so they’re telling women to not wear sleveless tops

    • Karan says:

      What do you mean “what”?

      His words seem pretty much self explanatory to me lol. But seriously, out of that whole review THAT’S what caught your attention? You obviously must have skipped out on the part where he mentioned they use CROISSANT in their chocolate & salted caramel bread pudding.

      Oh and whether you like it or not, there’s a huge difference in the dining experience in restaurants here as compared to those else where. It’s a fact so I would look at that remark as a real compliment.

      This place looks great, I need that dessert in my life.

      • Reji says:

        Asking ‘what’ was also more than self explanatory..dont try too hard to earn brownie points with the blogger..how come his asking what caught your attention out of all the comments??

  2. aaa says:

    I didn’t like this place, after all the hype I was massively disappointed. It’s the ambition of Katsuya without the execution.

    • Mo says:

      I have tried this place out. It is without question the best japanese restaurant in kuwait. The food is just superb and the vibe will just get better in winter

  3. Ham says:

    VERY VERY VERY VERY SMALL PORTIONS.

    Flavor is great but 4 thinly sliced sashimi for 4.5kd is way too much. (1.125kd per SLICE!!)

    5.5kd for tinnnnnnnny piece of short rib meat in the donburi, is the world running out of cows?

    • Ali says:

      Sorry to disappoint you but this isnt cheesecake factory. Its a japanese tapas place, and i found the portion size perfect to be honest. I went there last night and I believe this is the hottest spot in Kuwait right now with incredibly delicious food.

  4. Sami says:

    I believe it is better not to compare countries. Every time you compare Kuwait to something, the discussion goes off topic. Each country is unique in its own way.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oof ok this comment ended up being kind of long.

    I was really excited that they managed to open up a nice, classy Japanese restaurant and got a proper chef to do it, but the prices were way out of line and the food did not live up to them. Instead of just saying “Good/Bad” I’m gonna try to talk a little bit about the justification:

    Donburi Short Rib – the flavor of miso paste was overwhelming, completely eclipses the flavor of the meat. Short Rib is really good on its own, Miso doesn’t need to be slathered all over everything to make it distinctly Japanese.

    Salmon Salad – Just a standard salmon salad, nothing wrong to see here. Pricepoint didn’t really make sense but nothing did.

    A sashimi thing I can’t remember- soaked in Ponzu. You couldn’t taste the fish because the thing was swimming. Would’ve been cheaper to just give me the ponzu ice cream it came with, which is very good and something I don’t think I’ve had before. I would’ve ordered that on its own really.

    A miso wrap thing?: Messy. Tasted ok. Miso was overwhelming but presentation was not good and the lettuce used to wrap it wasn’t the proper one and just sort of fell apart.

    There was more and I can’t even remember what it was. None of it was bad, but when a place charges high prices for small portions then I’m going to be more critical and it definitely wasn’t worth what I paid.

    Did I order the wrong things? Possibly, but if you can spend 50 KD at a restaurant and not feel satisfied I don’t think that blame should be passed on to the customer. The waiters were not helpful when it came to recommendations and half the menu wasn’t being served anyway, it’s possible that I went when the menu wasn’t finalized yet. Also the plates and cutlery were smudged and dirty, and again if you’re going for the “Not in Kuwait” atmosphere get the basics down first.

    I really wanted to like the place but after eating there I don’t think I’ll be going back. I can see why it’s popular, the ambiance is something that you don’t see often in Kuwait and a bunch of young Kuwaitis will probably enjoy being seen there but as someone who goes to a restaurant to eat food the taste didn’t cut it for me.

    To reply to some of the other comments I wouldn’t say it’s the best Japanese restaurant in Kuwait, not even the best Japanese Fusion in Kuwait. I don’t know if the taste is just targeted at the kind of people whose favorite “Sushi” is Essa Maki, because the chef obviously knows what he’s doing and should be capable of making a great meal. Maybe they had a bad day, I still hope it’s a successful restaurant and inspires more young Kuwaitis to try opening their own original concepts.

  6. M6airy says:

    By far, the best japanese restaurant in Kuwait, as well as the most ambient. Comparing to Dubai is a bit of an understatement, I’d say MPD or SoBe would be more of an adequate comparison to the vibe of this place. Cheers guys and good luck.

  7. yooshi says:

    This spot is the hottest in Kuwait right now. Amazing sushi and sashimi, so nice and fresh.! I saw some of the partners there during the soft opening, like OMG! they’re so hot!

  8. meh says:

    Seems like a new trend. Outrageously priced restaurants. Dubai has them, people are paying.. So yeah.

  9. Ray Elbe says:

    Great place to eat.

  10. zaydoun says:

    How does it compare to, er, Katsuya at the Avenues?

    Lets hope Chef Tiger really does stay (and that his partners keep him happy) and doesn’t bolt after 6 months like many of his predecessors

    • Mark says:

      VERY similar. The biggest advantage to ORA is that it’s not in a mall and it’s a happening spot right now. That might change though once Katsuya opens up a few shops down from ORA in the coming months although I think Kuwaitis would rather go to ORA over Katsuya because its a local creation.


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