Manama: A Kuwait blogger is being sued by a restaurant after he posted his view on a dinner experience there.
"A few days back I posted about Benihana opening up at the Avenues and last night I decided to pass by with Nat and try it out," Mark wrote on his blog.
"The service wasn’t too bad for a restaurant that’s just been open for a few days and the staff were really friendly...The problem with my experience last night though was with the food, it was disappointing to say the least," he blogged under "My Benihana Experience".
Mark then explained in rich details the experience, ranging from the "good" negimaki to the "ordinary" Orange Blossom to the "bad" Hibachi chicken.
"The chicken was very chewy (I could swear it was undercooked if not raw) and tasted terrible. Even after I had the chef add some more teriyaki sauce in hopes of improving the taste it didn’t work. I tried to dip it into the sauces that came with the chicken but it was hard to figure out if they were actually making things worse or not,' he wrote. "Even the rice and the veggies that came with it tasted bad AND were under cooked."
Mark reported that he shot two videos of the chef preparing the meal, saying that Benihana are known for the live shows they perform when preparing dishes.
He then concluded: "Would I go back to Benihana? No I wouldn’t. Their sashimi and makis are pretty cheap (KD1.5 for 5 pieces of Salmon sashimi for example) but there are two other Japanese restaurants at the Avenues, Wasabi and Maki, and I would prefer either one of those to Benihana."
However, Las Palmas, the company that owns Benihana in Kuwait, took legal action against Mark for his "negative" attitudes towards the restaurant and for filming the videos without permission.
The company alleged that Mark worked for an advertising company and might have personal motives that could be linked to his work to denigrate Benihana and praise its competitors located in the same area.
The blogger might also have sought to achieve personal fame and attract more readers to his blog by attacking a well-known restaurant, according to the court order that followed the company's complaint and posted by Mark.
The company said that Mark should in a first measure pay the company KD 5,001 ($17,875) and shut down his site before further legal action is taken against him.
The trial is set for March 8, according to the document.
However, Mark maintained his innocence.
"Benihana have the right to sue me, but I don’t believe I said or did anything wrong and I stand behind everything I said and wrote in that post," he said.
"I’ve personally been threatened with lawsuits a number of times before, I know another popular blog recently got threatened with a lawsuit from a restaurant as well and I am sure there must be other bloggers who at one point in time have also been threatened. If blogs were recognized like newspapers or magazines, we would all be protected from lawsuits like this. But at the moment we aren’t. I find this unfair and if I end up losing this case what will it mean to all the other bloggers? Should bloggers be afraid to say anything negative about a company? Should all our posts just be happy happy joy joy? I’m hopefully not going to lose this case and will try my best to win it and set an example so that other companies understand that if they don’t like something they read on a blog they can’t just sue the blogger."
Mark said that he has been receiving "overwhelming amount of support on twitter."
"Honestly as much as I am a geek, I never really understood or realized how powerful twitter can be until now. I literally have over 50 pages filled with tweets from people all over the region offering support. It’s really unbelievable and a lot and I mean A LOT of people from Dubai have also been rallying behind me on this and according to one twitterer (is that the right word?) the Benihana topic is currently trending in Dubai at #8.," he said. "So thank you everyone for your support, I will try my best to keep everyone posted along the way on everything that takes place regarding this case."
Grace, an expatriate mother to a seven-year-old daughter living in Dubai, called for spreading the word about what happened.
"I appeal to everyone to make Benihana come to their senses and drop the stupid lawsuit. Blog about it, tweet it! Victory for Benihana means a Middle East blogger needs to have a lawyer on his/her side in case they write that sushi was bad," she blogged.
Should bloggers have the right to criticise others based on personal experience? Or is it considered defamation? Tell us what you think below.