Nothing is “short” in my world, but…
You've read my bitching, moaning and complaining about places in Kuwait, and I know, you've probably been thinkin along the lines of Papyrus... One of my readers, Papyrus, has left very kind comments and has made me see the err of my ways in terms of keeping an equal balance of good vs evil; positive vs negative. It is at Papyrus’ suggestion that I offer the following Desert Girl opinion of outstanding places to go in Kuwait – where the standard of quality is consistent (more times than not). Thanks, Papyrus!
… Sidebar: This is rather ironic because only last night I stared to re-read a book called “Count Your Blessings” which advises to equally balance all things: good and bad. Children, that is our lesson for today.
Definitions: What makes a good restaurant in my opinion? 1) Food. 2) Good Service. 3) Atmosphere. By #3, I also mean – no screaming kids/a quiet place where you can hear what your companions are saying. I’m not rating loud restaurants because I never go/return to them – me no like.
I’m going to have to go back to these places and get exact names of meals so I can update this later to be more specific.
Who doesn’t know by now how much I love sushi? Purgy… wait for it… Well, I’m in a conundrum: I have been going to Sakura for 12+ years (13 in October) and have always loved it… until lately. They seem to be slipping – not in service, which has actually improved a lot – but in the quality of fish and the variety. I’m thinking Maki and Sushi Club are starting to kick their ass on the playground battle for best sushi in Kuwait. Maki pisses me off (Yo! DG – stay focused on positive!) because they are a rip-off on price, and yet no one can beat their variety. Their fusion thing in a martini glass is awesome. I also like the way they go above-and-beyond being imaginative. I have also had sushi from Sushi Club recently and yum-mers! They rock.
Shatiya Watiya Restaurant in downtown Kuwait: I’ve never had a bad meal there. The portions are enormous. The wait staff remembers you and SMILES. It is a traditional Kuwaiti restaurant with meals that taste like home cooking – and portions to match being in your living room with the family. If you make friends with Manager, Nasser, you’ll have a friend for life. What do I like the best there? Hard to say: Tashreeba, murabian, qaboot…. There are many. They have only just increased their prices – slightly – in the past 10 years, but they are still incredibly reasonably priced.
Freej Suwaileh: Also a Kuwaiti restaurant. I like their food. Service needs improvement and the ambiance isn’t terrific, but did I mention the food? They do a little DG trick: Serve gaymat as soon as we sit down. WHO wouldn’t love THAT? It is also open all night.
Mubarakia open-air restaurants: Everybody has got to try the little cafes and restaurants at Mubarakia at least ONCE during their stay in Kuwait. Try shrimp hameesa – it is similar to shrimp fajitas (if you like that). When the weather gets a little cooler, it will be a great place to go for cheap eats. Most places serve tea after dinner. Its just a cool place to visit.
Café: The One Café. They practice continual improvement and they care. They have a comments book – if you have a comment, you can write it then and there and they will show it to other guests and take the time to explain how they made improvements. I complained about something there – once – long ago and the next time I came in, they actually remembered me and went out of their way to fix it. Great breakfasts, great coffee, great squishy chairs to get lost in. Deserts will rock your world! They change their menus all the time, but they always have something interesting and good. My definite all-time favorite on the menu (usually around Christmas) is pumpkin cheesecake. Oh. My. God.
Thai: There is only one Thai place in Kuwait that has won my heart: Oriental Cuisine across from the Dasman Model School in Sharq. It is a hole-in-the wall with only 4 tables, but outstanding Thai food; better, in my humble DG opinion, than the Blue Elephant and waaaaay less expensive. Great service (especially when the owners’ young son is helping!)
Chinese: Peking in the Radisson Hotel. Scallops – yummmm. Expensive, but worth it.
Elegant/Romantic: Probably the most romantic restaurant (so Desert Girl says) is Ricardo in the Sheraton. It’s also purty pricey. This is a “know thy fork” type of restaurant – the kind that my mother spent years teaching me about. The Italian food is great, the wait staff keeps a distance, but a watchful eye. Everything is crystal and roses. Guys, if you have phucked up bigtime with your lady and want to make amends, Ricardo is THE place to take her.
Steak: Gaucho. Argentinean steak house. Need I say more? Ask for server, Desmond. He’s from South Africa and such a great guy with an amazingly sharp sense of humor. There is also a French restaurant at the back side of Fanar Mall (again, feeble mind syndrome – can’t remember the name) that only serves steak, salad, and pomme frittes (French fries, chips, freedom fries – whatever you wanna call ‘em). I have yet to try the Brazilian steak house in the Movenpick at the Free(less) Trade Zone and I’ll let you know on that one later.
No doubt about it – Housny in Hawalli. I have tried many many other seafood restaurants in Kuwait, but I keep going back to Housny. It doesn’t have the ambiance of other more expensive places, but definitely has the best shrimp and grilled fish in all of Kuwait. The service is remarkably good for a less-expensive place also.
Nicest Place to Eat Beside the Sea
Hands-down it is the (what the Hell is the Name) buffet restaurant at the Movenpick, Bidaa. Waaaaay pretty with tables on a terrace facing the sea. "some enchanted eeeevning..."
2nd best: Blue Elephant (Thai) at the Hilton.
Where to Go so the spouse won’t see you together
I don’t do this, but just incase you are wondering: Gulf Royal Chinese restaurants have “cabinas” (small private rooms). Sakura has private rooms (usually for parties of 4 or more). Housny also has cabinas (which might actually work out better if you are a sloppy seafood eater –especially if you like crabs).
Best Restaurant for Where to dine if you want to B.Y.O.B.
They do exist in Kuwait and some places will even bring in the appropriate glasses and de-cork/serve you. I don’t know of ANY specifics and even if I did, I would never tell. If you want to send me guesses – be my guest.
I don’t smoke sheesha, but I like the smell. I have friends who like it, so when I want to eat with them and they want sheesha, I want to be somewhere that is well ventilated and also serves either food or coffee that I want while they’re smoking. I like the atmosphere in Ayam Zaman in the Crowne Plaza. Bless their hearts – they really do try to give good service. The Movenpick at Bidaa is also a nice place to go for sheesha.
The “Way-Home” Breakfast
Bayan Restaurant in Salmiya very close to Noodles. You can take home chapathi and eggs, chai/7alib starting at 4:30 am….well before McDonald's...
I have a few favs.
Ayami (Damn, I can’t remember the name – above Starbucks at Marina Crescent). It is a fusion restaurant – kind of a mixture of Lebanese and Moroccan. Me likes. They have a different variation on the standard Lebanese dips. Check it out sometime. The food is great, but unfortunately, the service needs improvement (I didn’t say “it sucks” – I am trying to maintain positive). The food is great. I like the pizza thingys and the spinach/hummos dip.
Awtar Libnan is Lebanese and I’ve been to their locations at Marina Mall and in Jahra. Both are great – good service, good food, very nice appropriately-spaced tables (so you aren’t sitting on top of other patrons like some restaurants). Grilled halloommmmm.
I just re-visited Grillo on Restaurants Street for the first time in several years and their shrimp fajita sandwich rocks. I remember their sandwiches being small, but this was meal-sized and quite a few shrimps. An extra added bonus is that the restaurant is situated right next to the front entrance of the male-only Platinum Gym. You can see all the talent coming and going while you are chowin down; feasting your eyes (one in every 100) while you feast on sammich.
Doo-Doo in Salmiya for falafel sandwiches. It's way better than "doo-doo" or "poo-poo"! :)
(Sheel-o-meshi used to be my favorite place for a steak sandwich, but they reduced the size and the quality and now you have to buy about 5 of them to make it the size of the one they used to serve – and on different bread.)
I’ve tried a lot of the restaurants on http://www.6alabat.com/ (which ROCKS by the way!). Casper & Gambini is consistently good with good customer service/drivers. It gets to you quick. Also good for lunch meetings when you have guests at work. Good salads also. Indigo is Indian home-delivery only and those guys ROCK. Again, quick service, great food (try the hamoor biryani). If you can get Fresh Fish (name of the restaurant) delivered where you are – go for it. The prices are so reasonable and they deliver fresh seafood to your door. I love grilled fish and can’t get enough from this restaurant. I wish they had steamed crabs, but no one in Kuwait does.
Here is my restaurant wish-list for Kuwait:
Crab House (what I wouldn't give to bang on a crab on a brown paper covered table, sippin on a cool Barbican....)
Authentic Mexican (not the pseudo crap!)
Large-variety salad bar (salad only!) Why doesn't anyone in Kuwait serve a good salmon salad??
“Happy Hour” – I don’t know why restaurants here can’t do happy hour at 5:00 without alcohol. It would be a great marketing gimmick and they could offer finger foods and non-alcoholic drinks. Even if you started a restaurant CALLED “Happy Hour”… People already go to coffee shops to meet other people. Why not start happy hour for working professionals?
The Royal Hyatt Elements Spa. By far, my favorite so far. I don’t know if it caters to men, however. It’s gorgeous. They understand good, quality services and products. The Royal Hyatt is managed by Banyan Tree Resorts and the spa is totally Thai.
Spa Aquatonic at the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza: Wow. Again, a gorgeous atmosphere. It is huge and clean and new. I have only been there for one treatment so I can’t give anything other than an initial impression, but I loved it and will definitely go back. If you’ve been up in Iraq for a while (or driving in traffic in Kuwait – same thing), book yourself a treatment (male or female). It is guaranteed to de-stress.
Rental Car Agency
I have only one on my list: Automall (formerly Payless) in Rai. Talk about service! They will drop off/pick up to you anywhere in Kuwait and do their best to get you a car in your choice of colors. Consistent with their policies and procedures, kind and professional. Reasonable rates. Unfortunately, they only do GMC and Subaru rentals.
GP: Dr. Eman Badawi at the International Clinic. She is a GP but also specializes in asthma.
OBGYN: Dr. Gazawi at Royal Hyatt. I love the RH. It is like a peaceful resort rather than going to see your personal doctor. They make having your vajayjye looked at seem like a tranquil experience.
Dentist: Don’t have a favorite – they all frighten me (this is not limited to Kuwait). I have heard that Gulf Clinic is good (and I want to go there for Invisilyn braces as soon as I have enough cash). Slapps goes to Dr. Sexy at the International Clinic. We just call him that to give him a hard time. His real name is Dr. Edgar.
Ok, it really isn’t fair for me to make a pick because there are only 2 that I have actually slept in: The Kuwait Plaza (now the “Swiss Inn”) and the Holiday Inn Salmiya. I HAD to stay at the Swiss Inn and no – not going to make a recommendation on that one. I chose to stay at the HI Salmiya and it was noisy. I have heard that the 4-Points Sheraton is fantastic. I have had several friends at different times stay there on business trips to Kuwait and highly recommended it.
Now, I can tell you about the ones that I think are the prettiest without having seen a room: Marina Hotel (on the sea), Movenpick at Bidaa (on the sea), Hilton (on the sea). Hotels with the best overall restaurants: Sheraton and Crowne Plaza.
Al Setinat in Hawalli. Service is still so-so, but the food is the best and they deliver. 22665559
Desmond has moved! He's at The Meat Co. now in 360. The Meat Co replaces Gaucho as my favorite, but only if you can afford to pay their OMG ouch prices!
The Meat Co. also has a good salmon salad! (Someone heard my prayers.)
Anybody know where to get decent fish & chips in Kuwait? The Ritz used to own that, but not anymore.