Housed inside a beautifully restored fort-like building, Assaha Village is closer to a traditional Lebanese village than a stand-alone restaurant. Reserve early to secure a table in a private building for five to fourteen people in the Glass Café, Police Station or Fire Station. Normal main restaurant dining is also available, but fills up quickly so booking is still recommended. Assaha restaurants believe in delivering high quality, home-style cooked dishes made with the freshest ingredients. Expect just-baked warm bread, zingy hummus, moreish grilled shrimps and mouth-watering lamb cutlets all finished off with complementary local desserts and fresh fruit. Staff are exceptionally friendly and will show you around the kitchen to watch the dishes being cooked upon request.
A seafood and steakhouse like no other, traditional Middle Eastern restaurant Al Boom is situated inside the hull of an old Kuwaiti dhow (wooden boat). The dinner menu is a fixed price and includes hot bread and garlic butter on arrival, an extensive appetizer buffet, a choice of steak, salmon, lamb chops, chicken or lobster tail cooked on the open grill and a huge array of desserts. After dinner, coffee and dates are offered in the Captain’s Quarters and to complete the unique dining experience, visitors are given a souvenir boat nail to take home with them.
Located on the second floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ayam Zaman is a traditional Lebanese restaurant with a relaxed, lounge-like feel. Large, inviting sofas in magical hues of red and dusty pink attract those after a taste of the restaurant’s renowned shisha as well as the delectable dishes. Although pricier than some other Lebanese restaurants, the menu certainly is abundant. For smaller appetites sample the sujuk (stuffed homemade sausage) and for those looking to share a meal the seafood platter is just the dish comprising of zoubeidy, lobster, hammour and Gulf prawns. There is an electronic device on each table allowing diners to get a waiter’s attention at the press of a button. Don’t leave without trying the hummus Ayam Zaman, blended chickpeas topped with roasted sesame seeds, pimentos and olive oil.
Open Flame Kitchen
Despite the less romantic positioning of Open Flame Kitchen inside the 360 Mall, the atmosphere inside this American restaurant is far from that of a dingy food court diner. With black interiors, faded orange lighting and metal furniture, this restaurant feels more like a night club than an eatery even at midday. The huge open grill takes pride of place in the center of the restaurant allowing guests to watch their delicious steaks and burgers go up in flames giving them that special grilled taste. Dinner fare is typically American with appetizers like tenderloin lollipops, Coca-Cola ribs and shrimp balls; main courses of burgers, sliders, pizzas and grills; all washed down with a thick, creamy milkshake. Reservations cannot be made in advance meaning waiting times can be long but diners can give their phone number to the server and wander the shops until their table is ready.
Open Flame Kitchen, 360 Mall, 6th Ring Road, Kuwait City, Kuwait, +965 25 30 99 90
Offering everything you would expect from an Italian/Sicilian fusion restaurant, Melenzane serves authentic pizzas, pasta dishes, risottos and paninis. Main courses also include classics such as funghi vitellino (veal with mushrooms), pollo parmigiana and of course the restaurant’s namesake aubergine dish, melenzane casserole. They even have an alcohol-free version of the Italian after-dinner must, Limoncello. Melenzane aims to give guests ‘the perfect dining experience’, the Italian way, of course. Expect lots of food, tasty combinations, rich sauces and good home-style cooking. Finish with the ultimate espresso tiramisu or, during those hot evenings, opt for a lighter strawberry version.
The menu at Veranda is a blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, guaranteeing there will be something to suit every taste. Choose from Josper baked lamb moussaka, oak smoked salmon salad, lobster ravioli and king prawn tempura. The in-store location makes Veranda less appealing to couples looking for an intimate dinner setting, but the sophisticated décor, cream furnishings and curved back comfortable chairs and sofas make it a welcoming adult environment. Tables are laid out at a significant distance from each other allowing guests to enjoy their meal in solitude from others’ conversations. For those not inclined to have dinner in a mall, why not stop by for afternoon tea or coffee and cake; bookings are rarely necessary.
Caribbean Hut Restaurant
For cheap, authentic, made-to-order Caribbean food, the Caribbean Hut Restaurant does not disappoint. The first Puerto Rican restaurant to open in the Middle East, it is little more than a shack, so it can be hard to find but the father-son duo that run it are happy to give directions via telephone. All customers are treated like extended members of the family and dishes are created using only the freshest ingredients. The dinner of choice is empanadas to start, one of the many mofongo (fried plantain dishes) on offer or stewed chicken for main, leche (milk) flan to finish and all washed down with the restaurant’s renowned non-alcoholic Pina Coladas.
Fish Market is a high-quality sit-down restaurant, set on the seafront and offering beautiful views along the coast. One for seafood lovers, diners can choose from the menu or directly from the fridge full of freshly caught red snapper, crab, scallops and shrimps. The fish is cooked to the diner’s preference: grilled, fried, steamed or in a curry and served with a selection of vegetables or salads. On warm evenings, dinner can be enjoyed outside on the terrace.
Fish Market, Arabian Gulf Street, Kuwait City, Kuwait, +965 2575 5522
Slightly out of the city center, Japanese restaurant Tatami is hidden away in the skyscraper park but still manages to draw the crowds. Serving innovative Japanese food, the menu comprises of sushi, sashimi, tempura and more; all with an elegant and artistic presentation. The ingredients are always fresh and the choice is abundant. The chef is a young highly-celebrated Kuwaiti lady who somehow finds time to leave her cooking and check on each table herself. To ensure your slice of the much sought-after green tea cheesecake, reserve a piece upon arrival.
Serving ‘Grandma’s cooking’ with a lighter, updated twist, Leila Restaurant is a perfect lunchtime stop for all Lebanese food enthusiasts. Healthier and less heavy than most Lebanese menus but just as tasty, dishes on offer include the traditional phyllo rolls with basterma, kebbeh, tabbouleh and, of course, hummus. Diners have the option to follow the western three-course meal format or take a more Middle Eastern approach by ordering a mixed grill and selection of starters to share between a group of friends. For a really modern twist, finish your meal with cotton candy-flavored ice cream.