Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Al Jazeera

Location: Al Jazeera

Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price: 3.400 BHD
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Lamb tikka, half-roasted chicken, mutabel and fatoush
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: Not sure...

Al Jazeera is one of the little arabic style restaurants scattered all over the place here.  I tried it out last night, but was disappointed.  The meat seemed previously cooked and warmed up when served.  Still tasty, but not as good as it could have been.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Location: Govindas

Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Dinner for 2
Price:  12.500 BHD
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Paneer Tikka, Dal, Palak Paneer, Paneer Hyderabi, Rice, bread basket
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Govindas is a vegetarian Indian restaurant located near the Al Jazeera grocery store in the Juffair area, a short walk from our hotel.  We had seen it the other day on the way to the Patong Thai restaurant, and later it was recommended by another co-worker, so we decided to hit it last night.

Of all vegetarian cuisines in the world, Indian is by far my favorite, and this place continued to affirm that opinion.  There were so many good looking dishes, we kind of went overboard, so you could probably eat here for less than 5 BHD per person if you got what you can actually eat in one sitting.  The leftovers were much appreciated the next morning for breakfast.

I really don't know how to describe how good the food was, if you haven't tasted these flavors before I don't know how to describe them.  I think I can safely say nothing in Yokosuka comes close though.  The paneer tikka (roasted cheese cubes with tikka spices) was amazing...and so was everything else.  I'll just leave it at that.

Burrito Loco

Location: Burrito Loco
Rating: OK
Meal:  Lunch
Price: 5.100 BHD
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Beef burrito, coconut water
English Menu: Yes

Burrito Loco is one of the many restaurants along Shebab Ave (aka American Alley) just outside the US Naval Base in Bahrain.  It is possible to walk off base and grab lunch within the prescribed hour, so I plan on trying a few spots while here for the next couple of weeks.


The best comparison for Burrito Loco is to Chipotles or Baja Fresh in the US.  You pick your meat, rice, beans, and other stuff (guac is extra) and they roll it up into a small football sized burrito.  It's like holding your stomach in your hand, and then eating it.  Needless to say, I got about 3/4 through it, and took the rest back.  I think I'll eat it for breakfast tomorrow.

It was good, but not great.  Nice for a change.  I would love to have a place like this in Yokosuka for the occasional lunch option.  It was pretty expensive, but then I got the guac and a coconut water (delicious).  I think you could get away with about 2.5 BHD if you pick the chicken and don't add the guac.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Location: Patong

Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Dinner for 2
Price:  12.600 BHD
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Fried shrimp, fried rice with chicken, green curry, minced meat with basil and fried egg
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No (I think)

Woohoo!  First Excellent rating in Bahrain so far, and a Thai restaurant to boot.  I spotted this place the other day when I discovered a nearby shisha spot, and I planned on coming back to try it out.  My co-worker and I walked over to have some shisha after work, and then walked around the corner to Patong.

First thing I noticed on going in was the whiteboard with what looked like specials or something written completely in Thai.  I guess if you don't read it, you don't deserve whatever its advertising.  All of the staff were Thai, and the menu stretched on and on.  They did hover a bit, so I shushed them away so we could decide in peace.

My friend decided to go with the deep fried shrimp (battered) and a fried rice with chicken.  I was very torn as there were so many good and interesting things on the menu, stuff I've never tried before (Raw beef and blood?), but I decided to go with my go to dishes that for me determine whether they are making the good stuff:  green curry and minced meat with basil and a fried egg.

Oh was all soooo good!  The flavors were just popping and complex, and all the stuff you want in Thai food.  I asked at first for "very hot" curry but was talked down to medium.  I think I would have liked the full spiciness, but not "Thai Spicy" levels.  There was one red pepper that I decided to chomp on and promptly lit my mouth on fire, so I got some spice all right.  The curry was full of eggplant and little green peppercorns (I think thats what those are), as well as shredded ginger or gobo.  It was quite hearty.  The minced meat with basil was well seasoned to go with the white jasmine rice.  And the egg, while well fried, still had some yolk soft in the middle for which I was grateful.  Best of all, I had plenty of curry left to take home along with another order of rice, so now I have breakfast!

What I wouldn't give to have a place like this in beats all of them hands down.  Well worth an Excellent rating and I hope to go back before my 2 weeks is up.

Johnny Rockets

Location: Johnny Rockets

Rating: OK
Meal:  Breakfast (takeout)
Price: 2.200 BHD
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Rockets Junk
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Ah Johnny Rockets...  We had Johnny Rockets in Kuwait, so it's not new to me.  However, I was desperately trying to find something for breakfast to go along "American Alley" (Shabab Avenue) on the way to work, and this was probably the best of the options.

I ordered the "Rockets Junk" which seemed decent if expensive (but then again, everything is).  It looked like a mixture of potatoes and a bunch of other stuff like green and red peppers, mushrooms, and meat of some kind.  Oh and cheese of course.  When it arrived in its bag I was impressed by the weight, and when I got to work and started to eat some, I realized I had both breakfast and lunch here.  A pity because I would have rather had something else (don't waste a meal!), but I hate to throw food away, so I had it for lunch too.

It was tasty, not incredible, like something I might have thrown together at home.  My past experience with burgers at Johnny's is pretty decent, but this meal was only Ok.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hometown Grill

Location: Hometown Grill

Rating: Very good
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  .600 BHD
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Special Meat Shawarma
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No (maybe though)

Hometown Grill is one of the new spots on Shebab Avenue since I was here last.  And a very welcome addition it is!  They advertise as Turkish grill, but I think they are pretty generic as far as grills go.  Not that I'm complaining, they have all the usual stuff, which I think is great!  

Since I had a rather large lunch and wasn't feeling up to a full meal I thought I'd try out the shawarma.  They had the usual chicken and meat (beef I'm told) and then something that started with an M that I can't recall precisely.  They said it had cheese in it.  Hmmm...kind of a risk, but I took it.

Wow, that was a tasty shawarma!  I know I harp on this, but in Yokosuka all of the shawarma stands (even my favorite one) just don't spice the meat very much.  Sometimes I wonder if it's just nostalgia that keeps me complaining, but really can taste that good!  If they added cheese it must have been a white pasty kind because it was smeared nicely.  Good, I was worried it would be kind of processed monstrosity.  There were some pickles in there and one or two french fries.  It was a bit lacking in greens, but oh well, it was still delicious.

Well, I really wish I had time to come back and try some of the great looking rice dishes they had (machmous, biriyani and something called a mandy).  Who knows, maybe I will get the chance to go back, it's on the way to and from work.  The Hometown Grill gets a Very Good.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rice Bowl

Location: Rice Bowl

Rating: Very good
Meal:  Lunch
Price:  6.820 BHD
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Okra with meat, khobiz (flatbread), arabic coffee with dates
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Today I found myself in a mall around lunch time, specifically the Al Seef mall.  I took my time walking around the mall several times to scope out all the food options.  I hate to waste a good meal, and malls are tricky as they have lots of good looking restaurants, but often the food is not that great. Luckily I spotted a good candidate called the Rice Bowl that had lots of probably local families eating there.  As I flipped through the menu I spotted "Bahraini" dishes and I was sold.  I'd never had anything specifically Bharaini before, and though I suspected it would probably be similar to Kuwaiti food, I had to take the opportunity to try it.

I was going to order way too much food and take some home for a breakfast, but one of the dishes I wanted to try turned out to be unavailable (machboos:  rice and chicken ground together into a paste or something) so I ended up with a more normal sized meal and had no leftovers.  I went with the Okra with meat dish as the others seemed to emphasize fish, which I am not as fond of cooked.  I also ordered a basic flatbread and arabic coffee.  The coffee came in a carafe with dates, which were a delicious sweet complement to the rather bitter coffee/cardamom concoction that is arabic coffee.

The Okra with meat turned to be Okra with Lamb (always a good thing in my book) and while the flavors weren't powerful, they were complex.  I did feel the need to add just a pinch of salt, but I get the feeling that it was probably very authentic as nothing in the gulf local cuisine seems to be very strongly flavored.  Actually the Okra dish could have just been an Indian curry dumbed down for local tastes, but they probably consider it their own by now (see:  half of what passes for Japanese food).

Overall I was very satisfied and wish I could return to try more of their dishes.  As usual they have tons of different cuisines (restaurants here tend to have at least 5 different regional cuisines on the menu no matter what), and it all looked good.  The prices are bit higher due to the fancy mall location, but it didn't seem ridiculous.  The arabic coffee pot I ordered added another 2 BHD to the bill, so it would have been much more reasonable otherwise.  I'm giving the Rice Bowl a Very Good rating.

Faisaliya Cafeteria

Location: Faisaliya Cafeteria

Rating: OK
Meal:  Breakfast (delivered)
Price: 1.200 BHD
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Faisaliya Special Sandwich
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: n/a

I've been collecting menus from various places that deliver around my hotel in Bahrain (Juffair Grand Hotel).  This morning I ordered from Al Faisaliya Cafeteria which isn't too far away, but lacks seating, so perfect for delivery.  I was hoping to get a Gulf Breakfast, but was told that only sandwiches were available.  Hmm...too early?  It was about 6am.  Oh well, I ordered the Faisaliya Special Sandwich instead.

Shortly after I finished showering, I heard a knock on the door and there was a guy standing there with my still hot food.  I gave him 1.500 BD since dealing with change is a pain and heck, someone deserves a little something extra for getting that food here so fast and in good condition.

The sandwiche(s) didn't look amazing to me as they typically the whitebread buns that I avoid, but I was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  There was a little burgerish thing with what may have been hamburger and an egg.  This was forgettable.  The longer sandwich had bits of meat that had great flavor.  The fries were typical for around here, not something I care to order, but when they come with everything I don't mind eating them.  Overall, pretty good for what it was.

I am still disappointed though by not being able to get the arabic breakfast I am still looking for.  And the food, while good, was not great, so I leave them with an Ok.

Juffair District Grills and Restaurant

Location: Juffair District Grills and Restaurant

Rating: Very good
Meal:  Dinner for 2
Price:  8.5 BHD
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Mixed grill, plus 2 half orders of additional meat, hummous, mutabel, tabouleh, iced tea, yoghurt drink
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Last night my co-worker and I stepped outside our hotel and walked about 1 block south to eat at the Juffair District Grills and Restaurant.  It appears to be a recently opened Iranian grill, sandwiched between a fancy looking Japanese restaurant (Kabuki) and a philly cheesesteak fastfood joint called Tony Luke's.  It is much more local looking than its neighbors.

There is indoor and outdoor seating available, but the nights aren't quite cool enough for me to be able to enjoy sitting outside.  We sat inside on the first floor, though there is apparently an upstairs too.

I ordered for us, getting the usual spread of dips:  hummous, mutabel (roasted, creamed eggplant) and tabouleh (parsley and couscous salad).  We went with a small mixed grill to sample the meats and ended up ordering another two half orders, one of the yoghurt marinated "meat" (probably lamb) and chicken.  There was plenty of free Iranian bread (taftoon I think) freshly made in a clay oven.  In addition they provided a plate with some fresh greens, raw onion, olives, and a greenish sauce that was quite spicy.  And yet  more:  they started out with a delicious small bowl of lentil soup!  

My friend ordered an ice tea, which they made up from scratch and he said was quite good.  I asked for an iranian yoghurt drink (not on the menu) and they said they would whip something up.  It was very good, but a bit sweet.  I prefer salty and they said they can do that too.  Actually, the more I drank it the more amazed I got at its flavor.  It was as if they had blended it with mint leaves or something and it had such a perfect rounded taste I didn't mind the sweetness at all.

This place is a great find and really good value.  It's not trying to be a fancy "persian" restaurant, but concentrates on grilled meats.  I would eat here all the time if I lived here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Al Shabab Restaurant

Location: Al Shabab Restaurant

Rating: Very good
Meal:  Breakfast
Price:  .550 BHD
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: Keema, chapati and yoghurt
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: Possibly (not when I was there)

After sleeping almost 12 hours last night I woke up at about 5:00am.  I headed out around 6:00am to discover the lay of the land as far as breakfast goes.  I'm staying at the Grand Juffair Hotel, which is far better located for food than the previous place I staid when I was here in Bahrain for work.  Turning right out of the front door and will lead quickly to a T in the road.  This is Shabab Avenue, which you can turn left on and walk about 8 minutes to the base entrance.  All along this avenue are several very nice restaurants, western and otherwise.  There are some big names here: Chilis, Johnny Rockets, etc..  Lots of fast food also.  I found several places I won't mind coming back and trying out (Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Persian, Mexican!).  But breakfast options were limited to the usual fast food joints and some of the nicer burger places (Johnny Rockets and Fuddruckers).  However I don't really like western breakfast as much and was looking for something along the lines of Arabic or Indian.  Plus I didn't want to spend 3 - 5 BHD on breakfast.

So I turned around and walked back towards the hotel and past the T in the road.  I've been told that this area is "off limits" to base personnel, but I'm a private contractor so that couldn't possibly apply to me, right?  Sure enough around the corner I spied my first good candidate, a place that delivers that I will probably order from in the future as I snagged a menu.  Unfortunately, there was no seating and I was getting pretty hot and sweaty by this point (almost 7am).  So I kept walking just a bit and found Al Shabab Restaurant.

Al Shabab is an arabic phrase that means "the youth" and it can have various shades of meaning.  (I speak as a very ignorant foreigner here, this is just what I've come to understand so far)  In Kuwait, people would refer to "idle young male troublemakers" as "al shebab" (i.e. young punks).  It's not a particularly favorable phrase in that way.  It's also the name of a scary terrorist group, but that came a few years after we were first introduced to the term.  Kerri and I have a habit of incorporating foreign phrases into our lingo and giving them our own spin, so this one has become our code word for "young people doing dumb things" which is pretty much universal.  Therefore we found it hilarious that almost everyone on base calls Shabab Avenue which is right outside the base "American Alley."  How appropriate...   It's also appropriate because young Bahrainis and Saudis will come here in their fancy cars, "cruising" and sometimes causing even more problems.  It's actually quite amazing there can be this mixture of young sailors and arabs without crazy blow ups more often.  But it seems to work most of the time.

Back to Al Shabab Restaurant, probably named after the nearby Avenue.  It is an Indian restaurant, but not a fancy one.  They serve more "home cooking" than some of the other fancy Indian places I've eaten here.  This is actually my favorite style and one I look for everywhere.  When I complain about lack of "authentic" Indian, this is what I mean.  I asked for keema, chapati and yoghurt, and that's what I got.  The keema was not the best I've ever had, but it had the big peas, the minced meat, and the spices.  It wasn't spicy though.  The chapati was warm and full by ghee.  Oh heaven!

The rest of the menu looks great, and best of all I paid .550 BHD, about $1.50.  Woohoo, I win!  Oh, and they deliver, so there's a good chance I'll be getting more of what they have to offer later on.


Location: Champs

Rating: OK
Meal:  Lunch
Price: 7.700 BHD
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Lord's Pie (chicken and bacon cream pie)
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: Oh boy, you betcha

I arrived in Bahrain yesterday morning.  We were picked up at the airport around 9:30am and spent the rest of the morning getting our base access sorted.  After this we were taken to our hotel, the Grand Juffair Hotel, which is about 10 minutes walking distance from the US Navy base here.  The hotel has several restaurants and clubs in it, one of which is Champs, a British-style pub.  After getting checked in my boss and co-worker and I sat down for lunch there.

I had seen via the Internet that they had some meat pies, something I absolutely love and I cannot find any good ones in Japan. My boss suggested the Lord's Pie (chicken and bacon in a cream sauce) as a good one to try, so I went for that.  It took a looooong time to cook, and I found out later they usually warn it takes 30 - 40 minutes.  Well, nice to know ahead of time.  It's definitely not cheap...none of these places are.  The discrepancy in prices between the fancy expat style restaurants and the "normal" people restaurants is stunning.  I ate breakfast this morning for .550 BHD (about $1.50), and this pie cost me 7.700 BHD ( about $20...I know the menu says it should be cheaper but I think there are several extra charges that get added on automatically).  Thank goodness for per diem, otherwise I'd never get to try the more expensive places.

The pie itself was very good.  It's not a complete crust, but the crust sits on top of a porcelain style bowl which is full of the filling.  It comes out extremely hot and requires more minutes to cool down to edible temperatures.  I was only able to eat about half of it and had the rest for dinner later last night.  Was it worth $20?  Hmmm...not frequently.  An occasional special meal?  Sure.

The other aspect to the place is the smoking.'s a real bar alright.  Funny how I've gotten used to Japanese places where smoking is allowed, but usually the ventilation is very adequate, so even though it stinks, the intense second hand smoke is less of an issue there.  This was a room full of expats smoking up a storm and it seemed to go nowhere.  My clothes and beard stank like smoke so bad afterwards I had to take a shower.  So I can't say I'm looking forward to returning precisely.

Luckily, the restaurant is in my hotel, so I can go down, order a pie, leave, then come back and pick it up (or maybe they deliver) should I want to try a different one.  Honestly though, there are so many places to try here this time, I may not get around to it.  If it weren't for the smoke and the price, I would give it a Very Good, but unfortunately I have to rate it Ok for now.