The worst that America has to offer?

10 May, '07

Meal at Johnny Rocket's - A'ali Mall

Meal at Johnny Rocket’s – A’ali Mall, originally uploaded by malyousif.

We went to dinner the other night at Johnny Rockets, a place that I have never been to before, but one that I have heard rave reviews about from the kids. “The atmosphere is great, the waiters dance when the Bee Gees are on the jukebox, and they draw smiley faces with ketchup!”

No one talked about the food. When asked; however, the consensus of opinion is that it was filling and the portions big.

All of the above should have served as ample warning that the place is just a trendy teen hangout where food and drink are tertiary to meeting, greeting and chatting.

Well, okay, we haven’t been out to a quick dinner for a while so why not. Into “George” – as Frances now calls her car – we bundle ourselves and away we go.

We arrived at an almost deserted box. High ceilings, yes, spacious room, yes, see the kitchen, yes, 60s or whatever it was music in the background yes, chrome and plastic, yes, but you instantly see a franchise that has not taken any bother to study local culture: the booths were built on a raised platform which accommodate a maximum of 4 diners! That means, well, it was either designed as I first surmised with teenagers only in mind, or for non-Arab families whose idea of a “small” family is 3 – 4 children!

Okay, we could have sat in the main area and pushed two tables together, but the “atmosphere” of sitting, squeezed (fat) sardine like on vinyl would have been lost. And we weren’t going to lose that, oh no, we squeeze, all five of us at the same table in the open booth.

The service was quick and cheery, even the food arrived in good time but immediately I started to tuck in, the taste of cardboard was pervasive!

How can that be when you order “half and half” (half chips and half onion rings) and a double cheeseburger (yes, the diet is in the annals of history and the weight has crept back on my frame) but it’s true. The burger is presented in a grease paper which denotes what is about to come. The taste, well, it was tasteless. I’ve had Big Macs with more taste (okay, you want to be specific? I prefer the taste of Styrofoam to that of cardboard)

We arrive home and that was the first indication that something went wrong; my stomach, which is normally made of cast iron and is not affected by trivial things like food poisoning, was rumbling and grumbling. Never mind, margadoosh to the rescue, but we were out of stock! Now what? Well, stick it to nature takes its course…

That it did, the next day, the whole day, was a high powered stream of nothingness, until things settled at night (after a good half-cup of the magical elixir called margadoosh)

The others in the household did not suffer as badly as I, in fact the only other one who mildly complained was Hanan who is a vegetarian hence what she had was a soya burger.

Maybe I just caught them at a bad time, but regardless of the circumstance, you won’t find me beating others to dine in that diner any time soon.

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  1. bahraini4eva says:

    I went to Johnny Rockets once about a year or so ago, and will never return to it again. I don’t remember it being as horrible as your experience; although the food wasn’t that great, I never ended up with food poisoning (I think Dairy Queen does that for me!) My recommendation, try AppleBees :D!

  2. Lujayn says:

    Here in Dubai they’re not so bad. In fact, I head there on the rare occasion that I have burger cravings. We’ll have to take you there when you finally get in touch on one of your trips to Dubai 🙂

  3. Hamad says:

    Thank you Mahmood!!

    I kept going on and on and ON about the tasteless burgers they serve but all my friends disagreed!, their food sucks 100%, i cant complain about anything else thought.

  4. Barry says:

    Ahh, the bane of greasy, poorly made, and crappy American food! I’d rather have MacDonalds than that, from your description. There has been a trend in recent years to offer what is called here in the states “Comfort Food”. It is essentially what people would also call American food, and all of the things most Americans grew up with – burgers, pot roast, steaks, macaroni and cheese, etc. Here’s my favorite place’s dinner menu:

    I’ve been to restaurants here which served rather upscale gourmet versions which are really good. But, for a simple burger the best places are mom and pop burger stands where the food is delicious and you won’t go home with an aching stomach!

  5. Butterfly says:

    I stopped going to any of these junk food restaurants. Johnny Rockets or Macdonald I don’t see any difference. What I taste is a piece of plastic :sick:

    It is sad how the American fast food culture has invaded the whole globe even French who used to be known for their healthy eating habits.

  6. I says:

    I’ts not taht I totally dislike junk food, I just find it tasteless and expensive. You can get a grilled chicken with bread and salad for BD 1.500 (or less) so why should you want to eat cardboard?
    Support the Bahrain economy, get a grilled chicken from the nearest grill, boycott junk food :biggrin:

  7. Bernie says:

    That’s pretty much the same every time I’ve visited one of these fast food places to be honest. I just don’t go any more because the old stomach just can’t take the hammer like it used to. 🙂

  8. Moclippa says:

    Margadoosh! … My bread and butter for any stomach pain!

    And yes, Johnny Rockets sucks, I ate there once and refused to go back ever again. Chilis has always been decent, if you’re looking for that style of restaurant, but where the food ends and the belly begins, nobody knows.

  9. Ali M. says:

    bad, terrible, crap…. dont want them to close down though… even with all the places to go i still get stuck when i wana choose a place so the more the merrier… change the cardboard to something edible…

    DQ have gone backwards… from good tasting burgers to cardboard that tastes like JR. I call it the JR effect…

  10. faceless says:

    hey, their apple pie is really good though:) 😎

  11. Sara says:

    I find it really funny that both here in Bahrain and back in the U.S. everyone has such a negative opinions about fast restaurants (which is well warranted of course) and always going on and on about how bad the food tastes yet business is booming! Is it one of those things that we secretly love but just can’t admit that we enjoy eating at these places from time to time???

  12. Maverick says:

    M! It is sad that you and your family suffered so. You should tall the health inspectors on them. They need a good health check to see if they are keeping the food areas and food clean and hygenic and if theya re following proper cleanliness procedures. Contamination from pesticides, cleaning chemicals can cause problems too.

    Keep Camomile tea bags handy in the house. It works in five minutes as does Chinese green tea.

    Pudin hara (essence of mint) herbal gel capsules available at Indian cold stores and taken with a glass of water give cooling relief from indigestion.

    Immodium or Vacontil tablets are taken for cotinous motions but must be taken with a doctors reccomendation. I am not prescribing them.

    Toast and yoghurt provide ample relief too. Ginger tea with honey is helpful.

    For good food visit Anatolia in Budaiya, good fresh Turkish grills.
    For great tasting healthy Ostrich low-cholesterol burgers try Big Bird at Gosi complex on the first floor as the food court.

  13. hashim says:

    I actually liked JR. I do get cravings for the tasteless, greasy, gum-like burgers (and the half & half). It’s been over 5 months now since we’ve been there. Hopefully, the next time we go there Naief will be old enough. And no, we won’t get him hooked on fast food. 🙂

  14. Barry says:

    It is true, fast food is terrible for you, but fast food restaurants make the money they do because they are cheap, quick, and yes, they are tasty to most people. I really do believe that fast food is really a guilty pleasure for most people, even those who will usually say that it’s disgusting and gross.

    If the food tasted poor to most people, why else would people eat at places like MacDonalds? Even Julia Child herself said one of her most favorite things were MacDonald’s french fries (AKA Chips). Really, one of the most joyful things in life are the fries from MacDonalds *right* out of the fryer. They used to be tastier when they were using beef fat to fry them too.

    One of the most popular places here is Taco Bell. We all know how bad it is, but you ask most people and they’ll mention cravings for their food. I have a friend who always says about it “That’s not Mexican food!” and I say “No, it’s not, it’s Taco Bell!”. If I wanted Mexican food, I’d be going to a Mexican joint (which are a dime a dozen here, so it’s not like I can’t get it).

    As long as people want cheap, quick, and tasty enough food, they’ll keep patronizing these places.

  15. Loki says:

    Once bitten twice shy. Never going again (despite my son’s pestering). Considering forcing him to eat 20 of their burgers to get it out of his system….

  16. Proud Bahraini says:

    Well is it only me that notice it? American cheesy restaurants are all over the country, these places serve bad food and the atmosphere is just too annoying for me, well in fact cheesy American restaurants are all over the world and it doesn’t please me to see any of those poison servers anywhere near me plus the thug American look that alot of our youngsters have adopted it is annoying too, what happend to the “bacha” restaurants how come you don’t see them no more in a way they are cool if they try to change these places and give it a cool modren look like shawarma X that i like alot why can’t they be creative and leave these American brain washing stuff (food,drinks,cars,movies)? why is the American culture influence is so strong on the Bahraini youth?? for God’s sake there is other cultures who are in my opinion are much advanced than the American (in MY OWN OPINION).

    We should unite against these American franchises, (stop paying them).

    Well after all this is my OWN OPINION.

  17. mahmood says:

    Oh yes, Pacheh, now that’s a dish that you can franchise! Seriously, it is specific I think to Bahrain, Kuwait and Iran as far as I can tell, oh and most of Europe too!

    and here’s the recipe.

    Go hog wild at it! :w00t:

  18. mahmood says:

    I’ve got to confess that my stomach is still not as good as pre-JR. I’m still taking it easy yesterday and today. My lunch today for instance was doughnuts.

  19. Maverick says:

    M! Take some Camomile tea with honey, it will help to relieve the discomfort and will disinfect your stomach. 🙂

  20. Lujayn says:

    Pacheh is probably specific to most of the Middle East too (called pacha there) – its roots are Turkish as is the name.

  21. mahmood says:

    I just did a search and couldn’t “hit” the right spelling, in Arabic, English and Farsi. If you come across the recipe or pictures, let me know. We should create a Wiki page especially for it!

  22. I have been to Rockets many times for lunch and enjoyed it. Never had a problem. The food is slightly above average I will admit but I like the “diner” type atmosphere. I hope you and the family are feeling better anyway. Food poisoning is no fun. I know all to well about the horrors of food poisoning after spending 3 days in AMH with a case of it from a restaurant in Bahrain that for now will remain nameless.


  23. Proud Bahraini says:

    I love Bacha or as you call it pacheh it is very soothing for the stomach and i guess you can pack it in special modern fast food packages which are going to attract youngsters and try to add a little soul to dish for example try to create funny characters to market the product like what the clown is doing with Macdonald’s stuff at least it is healthier than the kinds of fast food in the market and it doesn’t have an evil plan of taking over the world.

    Ok let’s have a look at other countries food like London’s fish & chips which i find great or their amazing baked potatoes, Russian’s blenchekies which taste great, Saudi’s Kabsa which taste beautiful and the examples are endless.

    Why can’t people think different BE CREATIVE loved the idea of the Shawarma express but too expensive for a shawarma but delicious.

  24. Lujayn says:

    The Turkish spelling is paca, but in researching the dish (yeah, very interested in my current project at work, arent I?) I found the Armenians disputing its Turkish roots. They say its Armenian or even Iranian. The Assyrian Christian Iraqis also lay claim to the dish. Everyone fighting over who invented a sheep feet dish! :biggrin: Hmmmmmmmmm

  25. Iris says:

    I haven’t been to Johnny Rockets for some years and the only memorable thing was the cherry milk shake, but I don’t recall the use Peptobismol (the pink solution to Moctezuma’s revenge) afterwards.

    I like burgers maybe once every 2 months but I go to a Mexican venue called “Hamburguesas Memorables” where you can even get pineapple and gouda or emmental slices on top of your Angus-beef burger. And the curly fries are enough to feed 4 gluttons without any trouble.

  26. bahraini4eva says:

    “It is sad how the American fast food culture has invaded the whole globe”

    “Support the Bahrain economy, get a grilled chicken from the nearest grill, boycott junk food”

    “We should unite against these American franchises, (stop paying them).”

    Hahahaha.. You guys make me laugh. I remember post 9-11 living in Bahrain, going around and seeing people whine about boycotting all these American products for arab made products (for example, arab cola instead of coca cola :P) and to me it was all just ridiculous. If you guys hate everything that is American so much then stop using Microsoft and going to the movies (IN FACT, just STOP buying anything and everything that has a touch of American in it and seriously goodluck with that). Now I understand that some of you are just crying out about American restaurants and quite frankly I agree perfectly with Sara that “everyone has such a negative opinions about fast restaurants.. and always going on and on about how bad the food tastes yet business is booming!” which pretty much means that it’s all talk, and we all know that’s what the Arabs are best at doing!

    As far as I’m concerned, I’m going right now to get myself a good ol’ American burger, watching a nice ol’ American movie, and oh yeah, I’ll be joined by a great American friend.


  27. Butterfly says:

    This was not my aim, I didn’t call for boycotting american food. It just happened that most of the fast food resturant chains are american brands.

    I guess no one can deny that the main reason of obesity in the states is the large Extra Meal,large fries and large Coke. American restaurants usually offers large portions of dishes, something that is enough to feed two or three persons.

    But there is a big difference between Macdonald, Dairy Queen, Hardees, Burger King, etc and other american resturants. It is all about what you eat and the time taken to prepare a meal.

  28. bahraini4eva says:

    Macdonald, Dairy Queen, Hardees, Burger King are all fast food restaurants. The only reason McDonald gets picked on the most is because it is the largest fast food restaurant in the world. I know that American dishes are huge, but it’s all about self-control. I go to American restaurants all the time but I never gain weight. In fact, I’ve been to McDonalds three times in the past two weeks. Now, tell me, why is that the case? Simple, because I know how to control myself. I can tell when I had enough fast food and need to get some vegetables from the groccery! American people are obese because they CHOSE to be obese! Sure they go to Oprah and Dr.Phil shows and cry about it, but we know it’s all in their hands!

    As far as the difference between all these restaurant, it comes down to several factors (obviously the price and the taste first and foremost). If what you mean by time taken to prepare a meal is that the faster it’s ready the worse the quality of the meal then I suggest you go behind the scenes of some of these restaurants to rectify your claim!

  29. Butterfly says:

    American people are obese because they CHOSE to be obese! Sure they go to Oprah and Dr.Phil shows and cry about it, but we know it’s all in their hands!

    You want to tell me that 65% of american population chose to be obese? Interesting! :whistle:

  30. You want to tell me that 65% of american population chose to be obese? Interesting!

    That’s right Butterfly is all about SELF CONTROL. A rather simple concept but one many peole have a hard time dealing with. Now where is my Big Mac, Large Fry, MEGA COKE and and my Hot Fudge Sunday? Forget that.. I’ll take a dozen SHAWARMA and a beer instead! mmmm SHAWARMA. mmmmm. :devil:

  31. bahraini4eva says:

    Amen to that Cerebral! Life is too short, let’s all have some fun!

  32. Iris says:

    @butterfly: It’s also about education and sports.
    Here in Mexico and also in the USA most of the obese people come from families with low education and income and who spend most of their time in front of a TV screen. In addition they have to eat cheap, which translates into sugar, fatty meat and huge amounts of bread and don’t spend the money for a gym membership.
    When you look at upper middle class and wealthy families you will notice that the people are much more conscious about eating habits and sports – let alone that nice clothing always comes in too small sizes – and there are much less fat people sitting in the “in” restaurants as Argentinian and Japanese restaurants are giving you a very different diet.

  33. Aliandra says:

    It’s called Fast Food because it speeds you to the grave..

  34. Sara says:

    “You want to tell me that 65% of american population chose to be obese?”

    That is absolutely correct. They make the bad food choices, they make the choices to remain sedentary and they make the choices of whether or not they would like to continue putting on the pounds or to get off of their butts and do something about it! No one is forcing this lifestyle upon them, it’s free will.

    I believe that people are fully accountable for their actions and their health. It’s a shame that accountability is diminishing in this world. Everyone is quick to blame someone or something for all of their problems.

  35. Dude says:

    Meh, Johnny Rockets :getlost: … Fudreckers(or Fudruckers, however you spell it) is where its at!

  36. Butterfly says:


    In addition they have to eat cheap, which translates into sugar, fatty meat and huge amounts of bread and don’t spend the money for a gym membership.

    This is true, but again isn’t that because of a marketing strategy “Value for Money” and the value here is “more food”?

    We can’t throw fast food resturants in every corner and then blame people because they can’t control their eating habits, just like we can’t spread drugs without any restrictions and then blame people for being addictive.

    You build a culture and life style with what you feed a society with and I believe that governments have a role to play.

  37. Romster says:

    Get your kicks on route 66

  38. Sara says:


    Stop blaming this on marketing strategies and the likes. People need to be accountable for their choices.

    This mentality is what started the sue-happy epidemic in the U.S. like McDonalds being sued for a careless customer spilling hot coffee on themself & obese people suing fast food restaurants.

  39. Butterfly says:


    Not all people are as educated and smart as urself. So you have two options:

    1. Educate people who are poor and uneducated and then make them accountable for their decisions and choices.

    2. Protect them from exploitation.

    I believe first option is much easier.

  40. Butterfly says:

    Sorry I meant the second option is much easier.

  41. Sara says:

    So it takes a university degree to know that burgers & fries make you fat? I must be a genious!!!

  42. Craig says:

    You guys need El Pollo Loco or something.

    That mean “The Crazy Chicken” but the food is good! And it’s REAL food.

  43. Butterfly says:

    It takes a Degree in Nutrition and laboratory tests to know the ingredients of the food that made 65% of americans obese 🙂

  44. Craig says:

    What a free promotion! :biggrin: and I am hungry now!

  45. butterfly says:

    What a free promotion! :biggrin: and I am hungry now!

  46. butterfly says:

    :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

    This is what happen when I am hungry, I typed everything upside-down!

  47. Sara says:

    It takes a Degree in Nutrition and laboratory tests to know the ingredients of the food that made 65% of americans obese

    I’m not buying it. I am not an expert in nutrition by any means but common sense tells me that hamburger=fat & french fries=fat. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp and I am sure glad that I have been enlightened with such valuable information that only Nutritionists are able to obtain through their training & laboratories. 😎

  48. bahraini4eva says:

    It has nothing to do with marketing and a little to do with education. Marketing is used by all corporations since it’s just a business strategy to make money and grow, not an evil agenda to get people to gain weight :P! As far as education goes, the average US citizen is considered to be among the most well educated around the world, yet a significant portion of the US population is obese, so explain that please? It mainly comes down to self-control. It is not only the gov’ts job to educate people, but it’s the people’s job to educate themselves. If you eat too much fast food and start gaining weight well then stop eating too much! It’s plain and simple! I would understand your claim Butterfly if every single nation with a fast food chain had a 100% obese population, but that’s not the case, so fact of the matter is that it has nothing to do with the fast food chain, it has to do with the people’s ability to control themselves and make sound judgements!

  49. Barry says:

    While a lot of it is about poor choices, some of it *is* due to clinical disorders, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is true that the poorest people are often obese, because sugary, high carbohydrate and fatty food is the cheapest. Vegetables are really not as cheap as buying a pound of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce, or buying a burger . However, there are a great many who have made poor choices. I can count myself among them, BUT I blame no one else but myself, and I have begun to change my habits. However, just as all habits are hard to break, so is the habit of eating crap food and sitting around on my ass all day (besides, I also work an office job, which doesn’t help either).

    However, I also don’t blame fast food joints and convenience culture for making me fat either. I don’t call it poison. No food is “poison”, it’s all about how you consume it. If you eat a cheese burger and fries every once in a while in addition to a healthy exercise and diet, that burger is no more poison than eating fliet mignon, and pommes frites at a fancy restaurant every so often. It really is all about making good choices and realizing that fast food (if you like it) should be a treat, not your entire sustenance. I know a great many people who are fat but eat at fine restaurants.

    There is also the issue of portion sizes. Americans have slowly begun to think that big sizes means more for your money. However, it is up to the person buying to pick a salad over a big mac, or to pick their fruit and walnut salad over their large fries.

    People will always go for quick and easy over something that takes time. After all, why else would there be Ramen stands in Japan, and Kebab places in Turkey, or streetside taco vendors in Mexico?

  50. Vincent says:


    I’ve never even heard of Johnny Rocket’s, but judging just by the picture that you posted… it looks really disgusting, even for fast food! :sick:

  51. Pamela says:

    I love love love Chipotles

    Chiptle menu

    light on the sour cream and cheese, and I can order it that way.

    Kebab shops are very popular in Finland. I’m looking forward to that, missed them since being in Turkey.

  52. Troy Z says:

    Is anyone else flashing back to a “Simpsons” episode where Homer tries to get disability leave from his work by deliberately gaining weight? He goes to unscrupulous quack Dr. Nick who advises him to choose foods that are to be selected from a test of rubbing them on a sheet of paper; “If the paper turns clear, it’s your window to weight gain!” Later, Homer wonders if an order of fried chicken served at a restaurant would be acceptable. His son Bart helpfully reaches over, takes the drumstick and rubs the wall with it, which then magically turns transparent enough for a bird to fly into it accidentally.

    You watch and laugh while going ewwww at the same time.

    Point is: You Know. Despite the marketing of anything, products or systems, something is going to reflexively tell you in your gut, often literally, that you’re on the wrong path if you have too much of it after you try it once.

  53. speak says:

    Who are you people kidding there is a huge percentage of fat ass bahrainis just look around once again the hypocritical arab attitude.

  54. Proud Bahraini says:

    Who are you people kidding there is a huge percentage of fat ass bahrainis just look around once again the hypocritical arab attitude.

    I’m not fat at all my whole family is not fat we are skinny as hell none of extended family members is fat, we might have a couple of fat bahrainis but not obese and yeah compare the percentage of fat people here and fat people in other countries Europe is the best when it comes to good food great quality and value. burgers are full of grease and nasty stuff.

    still love my pacheh

  55. Anonymous says:


    Almost all fat people apart from those who have genuine
    learning difficulties know that they eat too much and move
    too little. Even those stupid carb-addicted Americans in
    denial. And to be fat in this time of history, when millions
    of humans suffer from malnutrition, is a joke in bad taste.
    Fatties are slaves to their appetites by their own choice.
    They are not being coerced to eat like blind pigs. And the
    proper _ensan’s_ response to recognised manipulation is to
    wake up and say NO. So it’s hard to change habits? Big
    deal. It’s harder for the malnourished of this world to get
    up and face the world and look after their loved ones, but
    they don’t let excuses stop them.

    Attention all fatties. Stop making excuses for simple physics
    and get some fucking exercise if you can’t stop filling your
    faces with franchised crap.

  56. AGA says:

    Personally, I blame my American obesity on shish kafta, hummus, kibbie, and falafel – frequently two times a week. I was doing fine until I stumbled upon that little hole in the wall. And the service? The owner sees me standing in line and has the complete meal ready by the time I get to the counter. If it wasn’t Friday, I’d go there tomorrow!

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