Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Late Lunch at The Maharaja

Last Saturday, a Japanese colleague introduced us to Maharaja Indian restaurant in Beirut. Coincidentally, there is a Maharaja Indian restaurant in Algeria and also in Singapore but they are probably all unrelated.

According to the brochure, one gets to dine in 'authentic Taj Mahal atmosphere'.

What I love about the restaurant? A good view of the mediterranean ocean.

Nan with cheese

Basmati rice

Not sure what it's called in Indian but suffice to say it's curried eggplant.

Spinach gravy

Chicken curry! So sedap!!!

Although the food was quite delicious, the restaurant wasn't a popular choice with the local population because during the time of my visit, it was fairly empty while the Lebanese restaurant besides the Maharaja was full.

Address: Sporting Club Bldg., Chouran Street, Raouche, Beirut
Tel: 961.1.743915 - 961.1.742275

The Maharaja in Cheraga, Algiers

Since we are on the topic of Indian restaurants, I wish to also introduce the Maharaja in Algiers. I'm not sure about the exact address but it is located around the vicinty of Galaxy supermarket.

Restaurant facade complete with welcoming party of one.

The interior was quite lavish by Algerian standards.

More Indian food! The taste of the curry fromage was particularly memorable!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Algeria's Mobile Phone Numbers Change

Got this piece of information from Harmony in Setif

Starting February 22nd, 2008 there will be an extra number appended to
mobile phone numbers in Algeria. It will be added to the front of the area code.
And it will be a duplicate number. For example, if the mobile number is
072-66-65-99, 072 being the area code, then the new number will be
0772-66-65-99. So you just double the number in between the zero and the first
number in the sequence.

For international callers you will omit the zero and add 213 to the
front. So the new number to dial would be 213-772-66-65-99.

Which means that I need to get a new sim card from IT and update again all the numbers of my Algerian contacts. Anyone coming from Algeria? Bring me a new sim card please?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Update on Apartment Hunt

After some considerations, we decided to go with the 3rd candidate.

Candidate 3:
Pros: Location, nicely furnished, comfortable lifestyle oriented, well maintained and cleaned, functional kitchen
Cons: Price, size, proximity to construction site

Will be moving in this Sunday! Hope it doesn't rain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lord Of The Wings

Yesterday's dinner in Gemmayzeh was at a restaurant with a name that has a nice ring to it (no pun intended). Specialty of the restaurant? Buffalo wings (duh! of course) with a choice of 12 flavours. The restaurant also serves good BBQ ribs as well.

Inspiration behing the name: Pictures of a middle earth map decorates the restaurant interior

Buffalo wings available in 12 tastes
Buffalo wings in Lebanon are small compared to Singapore

And not hot and spicy enough too

Highlight of the dinner: Yummy ribs!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Apartment Hunting Continues/ La Tabkha ~ Cuisine Libanaise

Update of situation in Algeria

Remember my Palm Beach guest apartment at Sidi Fredj? Recently, we received 6 more occupants from Syria. As designated Inter-Company Transferees (ICTs) from our Syrian distributors, they will work in our distributor company in Algeria for a year to study and learn.

There was a major lack of planning and coordination. The ICTs arrived without the means to shop, move about or cook by themselves. Transportation is only provided to and from office. Dinner catering is by the same lunchbox company that our expatriate group have sworn off (read about it here). Already I heard about complaints that they are sick of the catered food.
As the locals often say to foreigners when situation FUBAR: "Welcome to Algeria!"

Apartment Hunting in Beirut Continues

We have shortlisted a couple of apartment around the Hamra region. Before decision time at the end of this week, we hope to visit again and evaluate the candidates again.

Candidate 1:
Pros: Price, location, size, kitchen, looks reasonably well maintained and cleaned
Cons: Old (furnishing looks circa 70s), depressing looking bathroom

Candidate 2:
Pros: Location, size, well furnished, maintained and clean
Cons: Price (electricity cost an extra $30/mth; internet connection for $100/mth), small kitchen, bathroom reasonably ok

Candidate 3:
Pros: Location, nicely furnished, comfortable lifestyle oriented, well maintained and cleaned, functional kitchen
Cons: Price, size, proximity to construction site

La Tabhka - Cuisine Libanaise

Discovered this restaurant several trips ago but didn't really get to try it's food until we were apartment hunting last weekend. A simple restaurant chain that serves lebanese traditional cuisine in a modern ambience.

Restaurant facade at Hamra area (facing Plaza Hotel and Lina's)

Vegetable platter (left) Lebanese Mezza buffet salad of spinach and lady fingers (right)

Lebanese Eggplant with minced meat stew served with rice (Makloubeh?)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back in Beirut/ Apartment Hunt Begins Again...

Somebody pointed out to me that I am blogging ahead of my time (See the post below). Thanks Phaeton.

The weather improved before I left Algiers. It wasn't cold and there was plenty of sunshine. People were coming out to the sidewalk cafes near Palm Beach. I managed to enjoy a late afternoon run at the forest of Bachaoui last Friday weekend. The parking situation there was terrible as hell as there was a huge crowd there.

Clearly, I had chosen a wrong time to return to Beirut. Weather forecasts said it will rain for most of this entire week. Compared to January, the temperature has gone up a bit so it is no longer cold but it is definitely wet. The wet weather makes it difficult to move about in the city.

That is inconvenient considering that I am apartment hunting again. Management told me that this year, I may be staying more in Beirut that last year. I already had a difficult time hunting for apartment in 2005 when I first arrived in Lebanon (read about it here) so I'm not looking forward to this.

Apartments within our budget (Deep-sixed's and I) and criteria are limited in supply. The choice location, Hamra, is within the vicintiy of Lebanese universities, AUB and LAU. Apartments below USD 900 were quickily taken up by students of these universities since the semester had already started.

We are aiming to get a furnished service apartment because we will be travelling frequently and hate having to clean up after returning. It also doesn't make sense to rent one that is too costly and too big because we won't be around much to enjoy it.

Based on past experience, I want an apartment that comes with a kitchen so that I can prepare my own food. Eating those fajitas and sharwarma sandwiches caused me to put on so much weight in the past.

Deep-sixed is concerned about bathroom. They shouldn't look too rundown and old while the water pressure should be decent. Quite a few of the apartments we looked had shabby bathroom.

With so many requirements, will we ever be able to get an apartment we want?

The hunt continues.....

Saturday, February 09, 2008

First 2009 2008 Post

This is my first post in 2009 2008. Damn, I really know how to procrastinate.

The beginning of the new year had been an exceptionally busy time for me with all the planning duties I had to do back in Beirut headoffice.

Some changes may be in due as my job responsibilities have changed slightly. I probably will spend less time in Algiers and more time in Beirut. It is also likely that I will be travelling more extensive in the MENA region outside of Algeria and Morocco.

As a follow-up to our Marrakesh trip end of last year, deep-sixed made an entry that can be read here.

I'm leaving for Beirut tomorrow. Will blog more when I'm there.