Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ubon

ubon
@kuwait city

what was consumed: green papaya salad (extra spicy), healthy fresh rolls, banana leaf chicken, crispy thai fries, pad thai, chicken green curry, cashew nut chicken, chocolate cake (molten!), sticky rice with mango

as much as i like oriental cuisine (see below), i find myself frequenting ubon when i want to enjoy thai cuisine.

the first time i went to ubon, i didn't know what to think of it. it was in the middle of a pretty banking/ministry heavy area kuwait city (quite a few restaurants have popped up in that block since then), but it was pretty hip with contemporary decor, a catchy playlist, and, of course, delicious food.

now, everyone has that one thing per cuisine that they use to determine whether that restaurant will be up to par. for me and thai restaurants, it's papaya salad. admittedly, i didn't eat a whole lot of papaya salad that one time i was in thailand years ago (honestly, i didn't know about it back then), but i have since come to love it and use it as my gauge as to whether i will enjoy any given thai restaurant. ubon's? delicious. the fish sauce they use as a dressing is present, but not overwhelming. the papaya is pickled, but not too much (so it's still a little crunchy). and you can order it pretty spicy! that's good. imo, i can go for a few more peanuts and green beans, but i'm still ok with it as is.

a friend of mine once said that one should never order a dish that one may easily make at home because that defeats the purpose of eating out. now, while i don't necessarily agree with the entire statement, i agree that i should enjoy foods that i can't/don't make at home. and so, while i've tried quite a few items on the ubon menu, the tried and true menu item that i enjoy the most is the chicken green curry. if you're a fan of coconut based curries, this is the way to go. be sure to order the steamed jasmine rice (they're served/sold separately) ... and enjoy!

i have since returned to ubon on countless occasions and am happy to each and every time! and so, ubon, don't you worry! i'll be back. have your papaya salad, healthy fresh roles, and chicken green curry waiting for me. yum!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

solo pizza napulitana

solo pizza napulitana
@sharq

what was consumed: garlic bread, pizza pizza pizza! and nutella dario (nutella in bread)

the ambassador was invited to a pre-ramadan event where the local organization highlighted their summer internship program with kuwaiti-owned businesses. solo pizza napulitana was one of the participants. and so, after the pre-ramadan event, friends and i got together for some dinner at solo pizza to check it out.

now, i love love love pizza. so i may not be the best judge when it comes to how good pizza is (i.e., i will generally enjoy most pizzas. it falls in line with my love of fried potatoes  no surprise). but the vera pizza napulitana association has approved its authenticity and that means a whole lot, don't you think?

solo pizza isn't huge - just a handful of tables calling everyone to squeeze around. but that's ok - i don't think anyone minded. the delicious scent of the pizza overtakes all and any crankiness quickly flies out the window. we sat and ordered some garlic bread (thin slices of garlic baked into pizza crust bread with olive oil) and waited for our pizzas. the garlic bread was delicious. i guess you can't go wrong with slivers of garlic in bread, but the combination at solo pizza was super tasty - garlic-y enough, covered in well kneaded and seasoned bread.

our pizzas were delivered shortly after. the pizza crust was light and baked well (in the wood-fired oven!), toppings were generous (though, sadlly, no pork products. sigh), and deliciously placed on the pizza. as much as we said "oh, i couldn't eat this all," we certainly put a huge dent into our order and took very little home (let's face it - napulitana style pizza doesn't do well the next day. a great reason to enjoy it all right from the oven!).

of course, we couldn't go without nutella. nom nom nom. basically, replace the garlic and olive oil with nutella in the appetizer and you get dessert. i don't see the problem. delicious bread filled with nutella. yum.
something to note: very rarely will you see kuwaitis waiting tables, slugging dishes, taking orders, etc. but you do see this at solo pizza. there's a sense of pride in their service, their quality of food, and the overall experience. i'll say that that was a true bonus, imo, at enjoying solo pizza's fares.

and so, while i miss the likes of red rocks, 2amy's, graffiato, and the like, i will enjoy solo pizza i the meantime. nom nom nom ...

Friday, July 5, 2013

mustard

mustard
@52 degrees in shuwaikh

what was consumed: hamburger, fries, rocket salad, crunchy shrimp, orea shake, orange fanta!

the Q8 'burger challenge continues!

in the hip "52 degrees," degrees space out in shuwaikh (i know, i went all the way out there!), mustard has the hip and cool feel of being a "pop-up" hamburger place without actually being a pop-up, from what i understand. friends and i visited mustard on a hot summer day. i had heard about the '52 degrees' space, but had not yet gone out there, so this was a double whammy of goodness.

for as hip and cool as the space supposedly is, we walked in to a virtually empty space (we met up around 7pm, so maybe business picks up later in the evening, or on the weekends?) so finding seating was pretty easy. we put in our order and waited for our (hopefully) delicious fare. i had heard that the inspiration behind mustard was the east coast chain "five guys," which i frequented while living in wdc (note: while i'm still a die-hard in 'n out fan, i am happy to see five guys have make appearances on the west coast because five guys fries >>> in 'n out fries). mustard is different from five guys - the burgers are different, the options are different, the bread is different, etc. but having five guys as the basis for your burger joint isn't a bad place to begin. and i was happy to try out the local variation.

i started out with a salad that was nicely dressed with just the right amount of dried fruit and nuts. real simple, but a good (and healthy?) start to the meal. the fries also came out at the same time (not fresh cut, but i enjoyed them anyway). i should have explicitly said that i wanted the fries with the burger (i thought that was a given, but my mistake for making that assumption). next came the crunchy shrimp. this was the one thing from our large order that we didn't finish. there was something about the shrimp that made them ... a little off. i couldn't tell what it was, but i kept trying to figure it out. maybe it's the oil the shrimp was cooked in? i dunno. finally, our burgers!

i ordered a pretty simple burger - extra lettuce, extra tomatoes, and cheese. no sauce. of course, it came with mustard (which i didn't want, but didn't mind). the bun was soft, the burger didn't come with extra veggies (sad day for me), and the patty was cooked well done (the only option) but in a pretty good way. it (the patty) could have been seasoned a bit, but it didn't matter as the flavor of mustard pretty much took over everything else. no biggie - the entirety of the burger was pretty delicious - fresh tasting and clean, more like an in 'n out style burger than five guys. i enjoyed mine and gobbled it right up. note: the burgers were accompanied by salt-pickeled cucumbers. e and i were saying that it reminded us of korean style pickles! nom nom nom ... 

the service at mustard, sadly, was below par. i don't know what's better though: the totally unavailable (and uninterested) wait staff at mustard or the overly indulgent tcn staff at other places. why can't there be a happy medium? i tried not to have this affect my thoughts on my burger, but you know how it goes. oh well.

it's also next door to chewy gooey, so be sure to pick up some cookies for me on your way out :D