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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Hassona: Creative Juices and Desserts in Dokki
Dokki Square is nothing short of a circus. With traffic coming from every direction, the noisy bridge above and the countless street vendors and pavement-encroaching shops, it isn’t the best location for a café. The owners of newly opened Hassona think otherwise, though. The bright orange-coloured sign stands out as a bit of an eyesore next to its demure neighbours; but it portrays its colourful qualities to a tee.
Hassona’s menu is almost overwhelming. There are so many types and combinations of juices for example, that you’ll easily be inspired by the strange names and blends to create your own, which the staff is happy to do as you relax on their comfortable wicker chairs.
We tried a basic cappuccino (5.50LE) and found it to be a little watered down; and it paled in comparison with the cappuccinos at larger coffee house chains.
We laboured in deciding which of the amusingly named cocktails to sample before settling for El Fankoush; a mixture of pineapple and kiwi (8LE). The combination was interesting enough, and we thought it better than the Super El Fankoush (9LE), which added apple to the equation. The drink was cold and fresh, but the kiwi flavour was overpowered by the sweet pineapple.
A display case by the entrance is strategically placed to showcase a selection of their cakes and tarts. It worked on this reviewer, and we ordered a slice of the apple tart (9LE). Although the base was a little soggy, it was full of taste and wasn’t as sweet as Egyptian desserts tend to be. Unfortunately, the apple also felt soggy and soft, and was actually very sweet, which upset the balance. Other desserts on offer include chocolate mousse (9LE), tiramisu (13LE), and fruit salad, whose ingredients you can pick.
In the evenings, Hassona’s kitchen offers a large range of fiteers and pizzas in small, medium and large sizes. The pizzas range between 16LE to 40LE depending on size and ingredients, apart from the meat feast that is the large-sized pizza Hassona, which goes for 47LE. The fiteers (12LE to 31LE) come in both savoury and sweet options, and fillings include cheeses, meats, tuna, chocolate and fruit.
Since this venue’s opening, the clientele are – according to this reviewer’s observations – mostly smartly dressed, affluent seniors from around the area. It lends a certain class and calm about the place. During the evening, the café’s subtle and clean interior is pleasant, and the fact that a lot of the cakes and tarts are in view and the place is decorated with the very fruits they use gives Hassona a crisp and comfortable atmosphere.
Besides being among the biggest malls in the city, Cairo Festival City boasts a vast outdoor dining area with over 45 restaurants and cafés that cater to every taste. One of the latest additions to its long list of places is Fifth Street Coffee, which offers a varied selection of drinks, sandwiches and baked goods.
Located next to Ila Café, the modern-looking venue is walled with gray tiles and furnished in simple wooden chairs and tables. Minutes after being seated in the outdoor area, we were given the simply-designed menu, which is made out of an HDF plaque with the pages strapped to it from top. Along with the aforementioned items, Fifth Street Coffee has a number of breakfast options, from which we opted for the ‘French Style’ (39LE) and another called ‘The Real Thing’ (78LE).
Consisting of a hot drink of your choice, croissant and a breadbasket with jam and butter, we highly recommend the French Style breakfast as an option for those who want to enjoy their coffee with a light snack to munch on. We enjoyed their cappuccino – which came in a satisfyingly tall mug – and an Emmental-cheese croissant, which was fresh, fluffy and plentiful in cheese. Served in a rectangular wooden basket with butter and Jam, the sliced multigrain bread was equally fresh, yet the scant portions of jam and butter hindered us from enjoying it to the full.
Not as scarce, ‘The Real Thing’ breakfast has the same content of the first order, but with an Omelette and your choice of French toast or pancakes. The plain croissant was just as fresh as that the one with cheese, while the omelette – to which we added mushrooms and cheese – was all in all quite scrumptious; however, the generous amount of cheese hidden through the folded omelette had its drawbacks: it made the omelette greasy. It was an easy flaw to turn a blind eye to, but what we really couldn’t ignore was how bland the pancakes tasted. Despite being topped and layered with Nutella, it didn’t taste as promising as it looked.
But apart from these little flaws, we still believe that Fifth Street Coffee has enough to make regulars out of us, thanks to the friendly and efficient service, the fresh baked goods and the coffee.