Katsuya by Starck

Post by Mark

I had lunch earlier today at Katsuya, the new Japanese fusion restaurant that was brought to Kuwait from Los Angeles by Alshaya. The restaurant isn’t open yet but I was lucky enough to get invited for a sneak peek so I headed there with a few friends of mine to try it out.

What originally got me interested in Katsuya is the partnership with product and interior designer Philippe Starck. I’m a huge fan of his work and was actually hoping he would be coming to Kuwait for the opening but that’s sadly not happening. Katsuya is currently only open in California and Florida and their first international branch is opening up here in Kuwait followed shortly by Dubai. According to the Vice President of Katsuya who I had the pleasure of meeting, Philippe Starck had to reinvent the interior design for the Middle East. Their US locations use feminine beauty in the design, mostly the eyes and lips so for the Middle East they wanted something more appropriate and fitting with the local culture so Philippe Starck went back to the drawing board and reworked the brand with the future in mind. The result is a fusion of Japanese samurais and art resulting in a design full of colors and movement.

We sat down and ordered their cocktails first. I originally ordered the Strawberry Fields but after trying my friends drink called Burning Mandarin I decided to swap mine for that. It’s a bit spicy but worked really well with the starters. For our dishes we let the waitress make most of the choices for us while me and my friends chose a few dishes we were interested in trying. The result? We ended up with a ton of food, so much that I actually made them email me the list since I wasn’t able to track everything. This is what we had:

– Sautéed Shishito Peppers
– Edamame Humus
– Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño
– Spicy Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Onion
– Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna
– Stuffed Eggplant
– Creamy Rock Shrimp
– Wagyu Filet with Foie Gras
– Miso-Marinated Black Cod
– Japanese Mushroom BOP
– Sashimi Sampler
– Special Katsuya Roll
– Kiwi Scallops
– Double Chocolate Lava Cake
– Mochi
– Espresso Brownie Bar

I found the food style very similar to Zuma and Australasia which is great since there isn’t anything similar to that here in Kuwait. From the items I tried the ones I would highly recommend are:

– Edamame Humus
– Stuffed Eggplant
– Miso-Marinated Black Cod
– Japanese Mushroom BOP

If there is one dish you NEED to try its the Stuffed Eggplant. I know I know it doesn’t sound like much and I honestly HATE eggplant, I can’t stand it but this is so different. The eggplant is stuffed with tuna and almonds covered in a sweet miso glaze. It’s actually not a top seller in the States but my guess is it’s going to be a big hit here.

The dishes aren’t that expensive. We didn’t pay for our meal but I do have a PDF of the menu which you can download at the end of this post and really most of the dishes are priced pretty fairly. The black cod dish is around KD14 but it was also the largest piece of black cod I had ever been served. I actually asked the waitress if this was their regular serving size or a large portion just for us, that’s how big it was. The Edamame Humus (genius idea btw) is KD2.950, the Stuffed Eggplant KD3.950 and the Mushroom BOP which is a fairly large portion is priced at KD5.450.

If you’re interested in trying the place out, Katsuya is officially opening this coming Wednesday from 12 noon at Avenues Phase III near Cheesecake Factory. You can download and check out their menu below and make sure you try the Stuffed Eggplant, that’s the dish that’s going to make me keep going back.

Katsuya Dinner Menu
Katsuya Drinks and Desserts Menu

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Sneak Peek: Gia

Post by Mark

Gia is a small new cafe that’s opening soon and so far it looks very cute. It’s opening in Al Khalid Complex in Salmiya, a complex which I think has so much potential to be a great trendy spot. Not many places like it anymore..

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Inside Radisson Blu

Post by Mark

Last week when I passed by the new revamped Peacock restaurant at Radisson Blu I also got a tour of the hotel. I didn’t check out the rooms since they didn’t interest me but I did check out the lobby area and the new Sky Lounge.

The lobby area is a lot brighter than before with a lot more daylight coming in and a brighter color palette. They’ve removed their famous floating 4-ton marble sphere from the entrance and moved it outside. They also expanded the little cafe that used to be there and they kept Peacock in the same location with just the entrance now moved to the main side.

The Sky Lounge is a new addition to the hotel that didn’t exist before. It was still under heavy construction when I passed by but I found the rendering above of how it will eventually look like. The Sky Lounge has a panoramic view of the sea and they want it to be the “it” place to hangout at night. Once the sun sets the whole place dims down and mood lights come on. They’ll have a DJ playing house music and they’ll also have a bar that serves non-alcoholic cocktails. They want the place to be a chill-out lounge and I’m personally curious to see how that works out.

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Magnolia Bakery opening this Wednesday

Post by Mark

I was invited to pass by Magnolia Bakery today for a sneak peek and while there I met with Bobbie Lloyd, the president and operating partner who filled me in on the brands history as well as what’s in store for the Kuwait location. The Kuwait store will be the 10th Magnolia Bakery in the world with seven branches located in the US, one in Dubai and one that recently opened in Beirut. If you live in Doha you’ll be pleased to know Magnolia will be opening there next month as well.

Those of you who know Magnolia Bakery will notice one big difference with the Kuwait location and that is they’ll be serving savory dishes like pasta and sandwiches alongside their desserts. This will be the first Magnolia Bakery branch that will be serving savories with the second being the Beirut location.

While getting a tour of the location I was asked if I wanted to ice a cupcake. Since I’m a klutz and I didn’t want to embarrass myself I politely said no but they insisted I give it a shot. After a short lesson I was handed a bucket of icing, a cupcake and a spatula. Even though the Magnolia Bakery staff make icing look really easy I knew it wasn’t going to be but I gave it my best and my cupcake actually didn’t turn out THAT bad.

Magnolia Bakery is located on the mezzanine floor of Hamra Tower and will be opening up this coming Wednesday. If you want to find out more about the brand you can visit their website [Here]

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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:

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

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

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