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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Monginis: Dried Up Pastry Shop in Zamalek
Life in Cairo can be pretty sweet, that is; if you know the right bakery. While pastry brand Monginis may deliver to your home; sadly they don’t deliver much in the way of flavour.
The Zamalek branch of Monginis is located on Ismail Mohamed Street on the Street level of the Jeddah Towers. Within walking distance of Mandarine Koueider, Rigoletto and El Samadi, the shop’s unfortunate location may contribute to the lack of customer traffic inside. This reviewer’s speculation that some of the sweets in the display counter suffer from this low turnover was unfortunately proven to be true.
Monginis does have a wide selection of products at reasonable prices compared to some of their competitors: Oriental sweets, chocolates and ice cream, as well as cakes, cookies and breads are on offer. Monginis even has a brand of pre-packaged snack cakes. Expecting a more gourmet version of what we find at corner kiosks around Cairo, we were disappointed when the vanilla pound cake (1.25LE) turned out to be bright yellow with a decidedly artificial vanilla flavour. The cake was light and fluffy, which was nice; but not at all what you expect from a pound cake– it’s named for its weight, not its price.
Croissants are a bargain at Monginis, starting out at 3LE for the plain variety. Fillings include two types of cheese; white (3.50LE) and Dutch (4.50LE). Don’t expect the buttery heaven that is a TBS (link) croissant. The croissants here are flaky; but only barely so. The scant amount of cheese also keeps Monginis croissants out of the gourmet category.
The selection of mini-cookies (60LE a kilo) isn’t anything to rave about. The blonde chocolate chip cookies lack any discernable flavour and the same goes for the coconut bars topped with chocolate and nuts. Only a cookie topped with fudgy frosting and puffed rice had any real flavour, and the cookie itself was dry.
Perhaps their cakes are a better option, such as the ice cream cakes for 72LE with scoops of ice cream and pieces of chocolate embellishing the top, but from our samplings at Monginis; we find that the shop’s products don’t compare with those of its competitors.
With Brew & Chew satisfying the cravings of Maadi residents, and Dip n Dip spreading their fantastic desserts in New Cairo, Nasr City and 6 of October City, the sweet-toothed of Zamalek can be forgiven for feeling a little neglected – that is until now. Chocolate by name, chocolaty by nature, Joe’s Chocolate Bar on Taha Hussein Street could be the answer to every chocaholic’s dreams.
As a venue, Joe’s Chocolate Bar is divided into two floors; the top floor has nothing remarkable about it but allows smoking, while the ground floor is where the ‘chocolate is. Besides the melted chocolate-like decoration on the wall (which is installed upside down, so instead looks like chocolate waves) the calm lighting and wood walls create a relaxing and cosy ambiance to the place.
The items on the menu are limited and nothing grabbed our attention, but we opted for the Molten Chocolate Cake (47LE), Triple Chocolate Crepe (41LE) and their new special item – as the waiter was so keen to mention – Oreo Waffle (49LE).
The molten chocolate cake had a bold chocolate flavour and a very moist texture; the gooey centre had a fantastic pudding-like consistency, which shows that it was cooked to perfection and, overall, the dessert had a spot-on sweetness. On the other hand, we would have preferred that the ice cream was served separately, because the hot temperature of cake melted it quickly and made the top of the cake rather soggy.
The triple chocolate crepe was just as good, meanwhile; coming as three thin, light and fluffy triangular servings, each one was filled with a generous amount of melted milk chocolate, and drizzled with white, milk, and dark chocolate. We also asked for fruit (10LE) on the side which consists of mini cubes of kiwi, bananas, and strawberries, and it was surprisingly fresh even though it’s not strawberry season yet.
As for the Oreo waffle, we expected nothing more than a waffle with crushed Oreo on top, but, impressively, the waffle itself had an actual layer of Oreo in the middle. Despite the waffles needing a little more milk chocolate on top and being a bit chewy, they were largely soft with a slightly crispy exterior, and the flavour of the Oreo popped in every single bite.
Joe’s Chocolate Bar definitely impressed with their well-executed desserts and big flavours, but we felt that the variety on the menu is too safe and a bit limited for a dessert specialist. We’d very happily come back for the molten chocolate cake, though.