Tuesday, November 6, 2012

oriental cuisine

oriental cuisine
location: bibi tower, sharq, ibn misdah street near dasman model school

soon after my arrival to kuwait, new friends took me to what they described as "the best thai in kuwait." admittedly, i was skeptical (i still hadn't learned that food is delicious in kuwait, but that very little of it is actually "kuwaiti"). friends mentioned they were looking forward to it since the night before; as a result, regardless of whether they were judges of good food, i started to look forward to it too.

oriental cuisine isn't in a very obvious place (i.e., it's not in a place where there are a collection of restaurants or is a popular hang-out spot), so much so that when we tried to go, we got lost. twice (if that's even possible). hahaha.

oriental cuisine is larger than some of the smaller places that are popping up in kuwait, but not sprawling. we had a large group and the staff was really accommodating and pushed tables together so that we could all sit with each other and (imo most importantly) share food.

oriental cuisine is known for its authentic thai food. their menu highlights more of the typical thai fare that i am used to seeing on thai restaurant menus (admittedly, i've been spoiled in wdc with the great (and creative) thai food i was able to enjoy there). you can some pretty good standard fare (pad thai, fried rices, etc.) as well as some things that i hadn't had until i'd come to kuwait (i.e., morning glory. apparently it's bigger among the chinese community? new to me, but delicious). our party ordered a variety of different dishes; i was happy to taste the dishes we ordered (of course, i made sure to ask for my own order of papaya salad - that's what i use to determine whether i like a thai restaurant or not. you know, the bar i use. oriental cuisine's was pretty stinkin' good).

some days, all i want is a good papaya salad and some garlic fried rice. that's when i think about oriental cuisine. i think if it were closer to the residence (the residence!), i would frequent it more often; sadly, i do not as kuwaiti traffic is the last thing i want to deal with at night and i'm outside of their delivery radius (sadly). but maybe it's a good thing as i would be twice my size if it were closer. haha. but don't fret, oriental cuisine. despite my desire to visit a variety of restaurants, you are definitely one that i will frequent. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

elevation burger

elevation burger
location: the avenues, al-hamra tower

on with the Q8 burger challenge!

while i'm doing my best to seet out "locally" owned restaurants and restaurants, i can't tune out recommendations that others have. that's what took me to elevation burger for the first time. i'd heard people talk about this virginia chain for quite some time, but never got out to it when in WDC (i'm an in 'n out type of girl). but people were telling me that elevation burger had the best burgers in town, so off i went.

ok, so their burgers are pretty delicious. nothing fancy, but a really solid simple burger. the ingredients are of good quality, the size of their fare is just right (not overly large, not ridiculously small), and the burgers are not too expensive. they have a pretty simple menu (a variation of burgers is pretty much it) which makes it easier to focus on the quality of their burgers. they also have vegetarian options; i have not yet tried it, but from meat-eating friends who have, they approve.

elevation burger serves really skinny fries. i'm a fries addict, so there are few fries that i don't like. that said, i'm not a huge fan of skinny fries (i like more meatier fries, if i can say that i have a preference). nevertheless, i have been known to polish off my elevation burger fries and slyly reach over and nosh on friends' leftovers. they're left over, right? someone has got to enjoy the deliciousness and it might as well be me, right? right.

whenever i go to elevation burger, i also notice that they have a gaggle of people in the small area behind the counter - making burgers, taking orders, cleaning, etc. sometimes, it's a little daunting because it's as though their staff overflows. but hey, as long as my burger is delicious and the place is clean, who am i to say what their administration behind the scenes looks like!

so, yeah. a solid simple burger. which i have returned to (already) quite a few times. and plan to, again. frequentlly. nomnomnomnom ... 

Friday, October 19, 2012

caramel

caramel
bneid el gar, block 1, street 96, al manar complex
hours: monday-thursday 7am-10pm, friday 12pm-10pm, saturday-sunday 7am-10pm
tel: 2253 3258

i'm always up for incredible culinary technique, delicious flavor combinations, and amazing presentation (preferably all three together, not separately), even for lesser preferred (imo) cakes and other sweets. and while i'm not a fangirl, i know others are; so, when i bring sweets over, i want to suggest deliciousness. my new favorite cake shop is caramel (thanks T for the heads up about this place!).

they have cake bites (about 1"x1"), mini cakes (about 3"x3"), and regular cakes in their display cases. they have a variety of different flavors ready for purchase. i selected 3 mini cakes (pumpkin, red velvet, and caramel) and paid KD5 and some change. i proceeded to go home, cut each of the 3 mini cakes into quarters, and consume a quarter of each cake. per others' recommendations, i was sure to ration the cake for fear that one would consume all cakes in one sitting. i'm glad i did because, let me tell you, i was super duper tempted to eat all the cakes.
the cakes are moist and flavorful, each bringing out their various flavors (as opposed to tasting only like sugar, or honey, as so many sweets are wont to do). the frosting was light and complemantary, not overwhelming. yum.

i warn you - their cakes aren't cheap. if i consume at my usual rate, my wallet will take a hit and i will need to get new clothes as i expand horizontally (more than usual, anyway). but don't worry, caramel. despite it all, you will see me often. very often.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

eataly


eataly, eataly, eataly! 

when living in a place where certain foods are not allowed, one can't help but to crave those things more. especially when you come from a history of having had enjoyed such ... (now) delicacies. let's face it, there's very little like delicious cured meats, especially to accompany some fancy cheeses. what do i think of? eataly.

friends had been surprised that i'd never been (i surprised myself, even). so when C, K, and i decided to do a weekend in nyc, eataly was one of the first places we visited.

right as we walked in, we all grabbed a glass of wine and started walking around (the rose was delicious, of course). we looked at the variety that eataly had to offer, as it is a cross between a department store of italian delicious-ness and a food court, all in a way fancy and yet comfortable way. when we couldn't stand all of our salivating and drooling any longer, and as we tried to figure out how the place "worked," we finally found poached a table and made ourselves comfortable. we ordered food, we ordered wine, we talked a lot, we laughed a lot, we did a lot of people watching. best. night. ever.

we started with a combination of cured meats and cheese and finished with breaded/sauteed shad roe - thinking about it (and reviewing the night via photos) is making my mouth water. the smokiness/saltiness of the cured meats, the creamy cheese, the dense and yet light shad roe (i hadn't had it prepared this way!), all very delicious. as we anticipated a long night of eating ahead, we didn't fill up completely at eataly, though we could have stayed for many more hours. a part of me, i'll admit, wanted to stay. that part super duper looks forward to the next trip to eataly. sigh.

i don't know why i thought it was so funny to eat with a napkin around my neck, but there i am. and there ya go. considering how clumsy i am, it makes a lot of sense that i do it and should, in fact, do it more often ...

eataly, i can't wait to visit again ... !!! among other things, it'll mean that i'm with great friends in a great city enjoying great food!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

mcdonald's Q8


say what you will about mcdonald's, but i make it a point to go to mcdonald's at least once when i travel (even when i was in hawaii! pineapples are a part of their value meals and you can get noodles! love it), much like how i drink coca cola at least once (or a thousand times) when overseas. i had yet to visit mcdonald's here in Q8 despite being quite a few months into my stay here. and then i saw a blogger write about their camembert cheese bites; i went that afternoon.

there's a mcdonald's right by work. i was concerned there would be a line in their drive-through, but seeing as i had a little bit of time before an evening appointment, i drove up fully ready to wait in line. to my surprise, and chagrin, there was no line (many a time have i driven by this particular mcdonald's, albeit late at night, to see a line of no less than 20 cars in line at the drive-through. sort of explains the physical situation here that keeps appearing in medical journals. but i digress. per usual). i drove right up to the guy taking orders, our conversation sounded something like this:
me: umm, do you have your fried cheese things?
guy: do you mean our camembert cheese bites?
me: (sheepishly) yeah. i'll take one of those. and 25-thousand other things (including chicken wings and a big-n-tasty meal, no sauce)
guy: are you kuwaiti?
me: what?
guy: chinese?
me: do i pay you?
hmmm ... interesting question. and yes, everyone asks me about my ethnic background (though this is the first time i was asked if i was kuwaiti. i'm obviously not) and i've grown accustomed to people staring in disbelief when i say i'm american. maybe i should say it in arabic "ahnnah amerikeeya." yes?

anyway, the burger was pretty close to those i've had in the states, though i felt like it tasted better (perhaps by virtue of it having been consumed not in the u.s. ... ?) and the fries, per usual, were delicious (and salty. just like i like them). and did you know mcdonald's has friend chicken wings? batter covered chicken wings that are fried quite nicely with a bit of spice, and not covered in sticky sweet sauce. but the camembert cheese bites were definitely the highlight. basically, they're golf ball-sized (though flattened) discs of breaded camembert cheese that has been fried. and at 500 fils (about $1.80), i will definitely be back for more. yay fried foods!

onlinehttp://www.mcdonaldsarabia.com/kuwait/en/home.html

Friday, September 14, 2012

slider station


slider station
arabian gulf street, opposite seef palace, kuwait
tel: 965-2246 5047

kuwaitis love hamburgers (have i mentioned that before? i feel like i've said it before, and i say it a lot). luckily for me, so do i. i love them so much, and there are so many hamburger options, that some friends and i have decided to follow in the footsteps of others and engage in our own Q8 burger "challenge," reflecting on our burger eating experiences (let me know if you want in! i will send you the spreadsheet. yes, i have a spreadsheet. are you surprised?). friend of a friend was in town and i was volun-told to entertain (haha - just kidding. it was my pleasure!). i picked A up, gave him 3 options (korean, thai, or burgers) and burgers won. off to slider station we went!

we'd decided on a very reasonable 7:30-ish dinner time, but were a little concerned when we walked into an empty restaurant. we proceeded to sit at my usual/preferred seat at "the bar," looked through their extensive menu, ordered food, enjoyed food, ordered more food, enjoyed food, and had a pretty darn good time. only then did we notice that the restaurant had filled up, so much so that all of the outside seats were now also occupied (it's gotten cooler, though the heat at night never really seemed to bother people as much as me) and there was a line to get in. in addition to the very long line for the restroom that i wanted to avoid, we ended our visit to slider station.

so, about the bar. of course, not an american-style bar in options, just in looks. what's more, there was a conveyor belt that wound around the bar. turns out, when sitting at the bar, your order is delivered via the conveyor belt a la "sushi boat." love it. i recommend sitting at the bar. yes, the novelty (for me) is still pretty awesome.

about the menu. they have their standard menu (specializing in sliders. and there are pages and pages and pages of options), but they also have a special menu. when they brought us an ipad with photos of their specials, we were sold (be sure to get the bacon (or as T says, "facon") wrapped mushrooms. delicious.) A and i each chose 3 items and decided to split them (we ended up with fries, the mushrooms, and 4 different sliders). after that first round, we went back and ordered a few more sliders. all different. including "the obama." we had to (right?). the sliders are all pretty standard slider sized with lots of different flavor options. i particularly enjoyed the sliders with a fusion flair (like the thai inspired slider). i felt like slider station did those well as well as the more traditional sliders.

overall, i'd recommend slider station. they have a nice ambiance and there's something about supporting young and local entrepreneurs (though, turns out, this eatery is a part of a larger group, though still locally owned i think, of restaurants). M has been to the branch/franchise in oman and said it was delicious. i would expect no less. awesome!


p.s. despite some of the events reflecting the current situation here, there were lots of people who tweeted that they were at slider station last night. i thought that was really funny.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

country style donuts


country style donuts
4300 williamsburg road, richmond, va 23231
tel: 804) 222-2466

in the world of krispy kreme and dunkin' donuts, i can't help but to crave some old school donuts (when was the last time you had one of those?), despite my usually absent sweet tooth. i find it interesting, though, that when i'm overseas, i find myself consuming massive amounts of sweets - chocolate bars, ice cream (baskin robbins pralines and cream, please), donuts, brownies, etc. i know, uncharacteristic and weird.

anyway, before heading overseas, and now already months and months ago, friends and i made a richmond road trip. we told people that it was to attend the french film festival in richmond (which was true), but who am i kidding - country style donuts was a "must visit." 

country style donuts is one of those places where they prepare a predetermined amount of donuts for the day's sale and when they're gone, they're gone (they're also not open on mondays, note to self). we made sure to head out of wdc early enough to catch the last batch of warm donuts, and i'm glad we did! sweet, but not too sweet. soft, but not mushy. fried, but not oily. some of the best classic donuts. ever.

when are they going to franchise into Q8?! one can hope ...

a few weeks ago, in ksa, i had some country style-esque donutes. they were pretty good, but they weren't the same. when in wdc on home leave (or for whatever takes me back to that side of the states), you can be sure i'm going to put country style on my list of places to go!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

breakfast & brunch

breakfast & brunch

in salmiya, near marina mall

wherever i go, there seems to be a dearth of breakfast/brunch places. apparentlly, that's the case in Q8 as well. normally, i don't mind seeing that i don't particularly crave breakfast foods. nonetheless, it's always nice to find a gem!

there's a cute cafe that is probably a 10ish mins. fast walk from my house. i imagine i will find myself doing that walk quite often. that is, when it's not what feels like a billion degrees outside. haha ... 

the owner, a young kuwaiti entrepreneur, spent many years studying in the u.k. as a result, there's a lot of british influence on her menu (which is filled quite a large selection of omeletes, pancakes, sandwiches, etc.). per her recommendation, i had the arabic omelette (which was de-licious!) which came with toast, bacon, and hashbrown (very recommended).

of the many things i liked about breakfast & brunch, i enjoyed the general ambiance. the cafe is small, but cozy. patrons are invited to leave the staff "messages" on post-it notes that are then displayed/posted on the walls. there are only 4 tables, and while they turn the tables over pretty quickly, it seems like there is hardly a time when the place is empty. and be sure to get your fix early! since they specialize in breakfast & brunch, per its name, they're not open late into the evening.

breakfast & brunch, what should i have next time? can't wait!

Monday, July 2, 2012

hong kong pearl seafood restaurant


hong kong pearl seafood restaurant

86 arlington boulevard, falls church, va 22044
tel: 703) 237-1388
hours: monday-thursday 10:30a,-2am, friday-saturday 10am-3am, sunday 10am-2am

what was consumed: dim sum! 

dim sum has got to be one of the best things in the world. servers go around to all of the tables and diners pick and choose the various plate options - no waiting!. there are lots to choose from - meat dishes, starchy dishes, seafood dishes, veggie dishes, and everything in between. and then, if there's something that you want in particular, you can speak with one of the servers who goes around to make sure everything is ok and put in a special request. at the end of the meal, servers tally up all that you've eaten and you pay your bill, which is usually less than you anticipated.

during lunchtime on a sunny language training day at FSI, a bunch of us were talking about dim sum and about how much we loved it, where to go, etc. as we were talking, someone (whom none of us knew) came up to our table and gave us his opinion about the best dim sum in wdc. and while we thought it weird that he would interject himself into our conversation (though i've come to understand that that's just par for the course), i'm most certainly glad that he did! that's how we found out about hong kong pearl seafood restaurant. i'm sure hong kong pearl seafood restaurant does great stuff at other times of the day, but we made it a point to head out there during lunch.

on a sort of relaxed day, we decided to do an "off campus" lunch at hong kong pearl seafood restaurant. we head over, were immediately seated (hong kong pearl seafood restaurant is quite large with probably over 30? 40? tables, all covered in the regulation pink cloth (haha)) and the carts started to come over. we chose, ate, made a few requests, ate some more, chose some more, ate some more, and paid. and we did very little talking (we were on a mission!). it was totally worth it. i hope it's still there when i head back to wdc - a must go!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

naranj


when people think "middle eastern" food, people generally consider hummous, tabouleh, etc. because my palate is unsophisticated, i don't know of all the differences among cuisines within the region. nevertheless, i'm happy to make efforts to learn of their similarities and differences.

as an intro to regional food, z took me to one of her favorite places - naranj. she tells me its syrian; frankly, i'm still new to the differences so i took her word for it (haha). the restaurant is located near my apartment, but i don't remember where (though i have full faith i'll be able to find it again if need be. i think). our server only spoke arabic, so 01) thank goodness z was there, 02) i MUST work on my language skills!

we started our meal with typical appetizers - hummous with warm pita bread, salad (tabouleh), mint limeade (for reals, one of the best things in the world) all over good conversation. being new in kuwait, it's nice to hear others' experiences, mostly for my own understanding from which i may draw my own conclusions.

our meal continued with meatballs in a cherry sauce (delicious, and not as sweet as i thought it would be. remember my aversion to sweet/syrupy things? still here) and grilled chicken marinated with tomatoes (and yes, i did eat the tomatoes that, i think, were supposed to serve as garnish). i may have surprised z with my mass consumption of food, but that's ok because she had to find out sometime, right? haha~

just when i thought our meal was over, our server brought over a large plate of arabic desserts. these were complimentary, a part of every meal. i eyed the sweets (sort of torn between my curiosity and my full full belly), then proceeded to put one of each kind of dessert on my plate and taste. all of them. i win! until i find otherwise (and even if/when i do), naranj is where i will take guests who visit me while here. nom nom nom ...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

napket


back to my food blog, back to lots of eating! ok, so the lots of eating hasn't ceased, but you know what i mean ...

for my first meal out, literally during my first weekend in Q8 and after picking up some supplies at ikea (yes, ikea), d&t and i head to napket for a light meal. i wasn't sure what to expect from food in Q8, but have been told by lots of folks that the food here in great. i've since come to find that while there are lots of culinary options, lots of it comes from places that are not ... here. that's ok - i'm open to consuming them all!

napket was a great introduction to light eating, imo, with a nice selection of sandwiches and pastries. it's located inside the avenues mall (i won't get into the mall-culture here, but trust me when i say it's big). and despite signs that say "no photos," i was able to snap a few shots. most of all, i really enjoyed the atmosphere - sort of a cross between a chic cafe and a comfy coffee shop. excellent!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

liberty tree

liberty tree
1016 H St NE, washington, DC 20002
tel: 202) 396-8733
hours: monday 5pm-10pm, tuesday-friday 11:30am-10pm, saturday 11am-10pm, sunday 11am-9pm

what was consumed
: new england lobster roll (with celery, mayo, griddled hot dog bun & garlic butter drizzle) served with housemade hand-cut fries, atlast burger (8oz angus beef, blue cheese spread & caramelized red onions) also with fries, old school hot fudge sundae (with vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, whipped cream)

i used to meet with a nice little girl named ines (i've mentioned her here before) through a mentoring program back in washington, dc (i really need to look back into volunteering opportunities!) and we used to meet for a nice sunday lunch. sometimes, it was really stressful because i didn't know what was open, what she liked, what i wanted to eat, etc. in the end, my conclusion was that we could go to new places, as applicable, and we wouldn't go to the same place again. this was also a chance for me to show ines parts of the city that she may not see otherwise. and a great chance for me to eat massive amounts of food. yay!

when liberty tree opened, what is now years ago, it was during the whole lobster roll craze (could we call it a craze?) liberty tree was really advertising their "true" new england lobster roll and, of course, i just had to try it. ines and i head over to liberty tree on one day just for that occasion. and boy, it was worth it! the bun was toasted in butter, just enough for me to get excited about the butter but not enough for it to be oozing with grease. the lobster was tossed in a bit of mayonnaise, and such, but not so much that all i taste is mayonnaise. the lobster was fresh and delicious. some have told me that their experiences were different, and that makes me sad. especially because my lobster roll was so delicious! of course, the fries that accompanied it were delicious. but i love love love fries, so there are very few that i will not eat. 

ines and i finished off our meal with a large ice cream sundae. that is, ines ate most of it and i just watched. a little spoiling of her on my part and great indulgences on her. hey, i was her mentor and saw her just a couple of times a month! i wanted her to like me (haha). 

and so, while on the expensive size, i'd go back to liberty tree just for the lobster roll. and maybe when i do, i'll get a chance to try some of the other things they have to offer as well. delicious!


Monday, May 7, 2012

lola gaspar



lola gaspar
211 west 2nd street, santa ana, CA 92701
tel: 714) 972-1172
hours: monday-thursday 11:30 am-1am, friday 11:30am-2am, saturday 5pm-2am, sunday 5pm-11pm

what was consumed: bacon wrapped dates, mussels, flat bread, salted caramel mousse

i'd been wanting to try out lola gaspar for some time now. in fact, i remember trying to get reservations here for c's bachelorette party a couple of years back and instead of advising us to come early, told us (basically) to go elsewhere. which we did. and we had a great time. even still, i didn't totally take lola gaspar of my list. finally, as s and i were thinking of a place to meet, she suggested lola gaspar, and i was all in. turns out, i'd been here for drinks. a long time ago.

that's the other thing. i'd passed by lola gaspar many many times, mostly not intentionally. but this time, for the life of me, i couldn't find it. darn google maps! it totally lead me the wrong way. though, in google map's defense, the address is not really reflective of the actual location of the restaurant.

anyway, s and made sure to meet at lola gaspar early enough to beat the regular crowd. there was also just the 2 of us and neither one of us minds sitting at the bar (i, in fact, prefer it). and that's exactly what we did. i let s do all of the ordering, as i am want to do especially when people rave about places they'd been. we ordered a series of small dishes, to share. in short, the dining experience was marvelous! the dates were sweet and complemented by the salty and fatty bacon. the mussels tasted fresh and flavored the broth delicious (which we sopped up with bread). the flatbread had a delicious crust with fresh topping that went so well together. yum.

i've read that people were disappointed by the service at lola gaspar. s and i got great service. our server was attentive, but not overly aggressive to get us to eat or drink more than we wanted. he was also knowledgeable about both the food and drink menu when we asked, which is always welcome.

admittedly, i was a little skpetical about lola gaspar because of my past encounters with the staff there. i'm glad s and i had a delicious time (this time) at lola gaspar. i look forward to trying more of their menu next time!