Sign in using your account with
Ne3na3a: New Shisha Cafe Opens up in Zamalek
Shisha smoking in Cairo has evolved from back-street ahwas into a contemporary, almost modish commodity. In the perfect location to attract the attention of the sophisticated Sequoia and Left Bank crowds, Ne3na3a on Abou El Feda Street in Zamalek offers a more wallet friendly alternative for shisha and snacks.
A colourful sign sits above the glass fronted café, immediately showing off the lack of indoor seating; meaning the gaggle of tables and chairs outside on the pavement is the most obvious place to sit. Although an effort has been made to group together cheerful, brightly coloured chairs, some mismatching, shabby plastic chairs have crept their way into the mix.
Being a cafe, there's a large selection of drinks; sodas, cocktails, fresh fruit juice and hot beverages. We eventually caught the attention of one of the many waiters and ordered one watermelon smoothie (20LE), a lemon mint (18LE), apple and mango (20LE) and an orange juice (14LE). We also ordered one grape sisha (20LE) which took a while to prepare; it tasted good, though it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
Despite advertising pomegranate juice (12LE), the waiter looked at us blankly and confirmed our suspicions that it was unavailable. Although it was obviously made with fresh fruit, the watermelon wasn't quite ripe enough, resulting in a rather bland, unsweetened, slushy concoction. Similarly, the lemon and mint juice had neither enough of a lemon taste, nor a mint one. Sadly, the orange juice was both warm and concentrated whilst the mango and apple juice was overpowered by the mango.
After scouring the savoury snacks, sandwiches and sweet desert menus, we opted for a chicken shawerma sandwich (18LE) and a slice of chocolate cake (20LE). The dessert menu promises a wide range of deserts, although very few were actually available. Unfortunately, the chicken shawerma sandwich was very unappetising; the chicken filling was over-seasoned, dry and gristly. Our giant slice of chocolate cake was a little better; the stale sponge was largely hidden by the chewy fudge layers, copious amounts of chocolate sauce and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Despite Ne3Na3a's sought after location, they're a long way off competing with other Zamalek hangouts. If both the food and drinks improved, their location may help attract a larger crowd.
When visiting one of the many restaurants or cafes in Cairo, we’re taught by the Cairo 360 editors to never enter with personal expectations – to take something for what it is and judge it on what it promises and how well it delivers. Sometimes, however, you can’t help but be effected by a first impression, especially if that first impression is a negative one – something that we couldn’t get away from when stepping foot in Manial-located cafe, Sun Shadow.
As part of the bay-shaped, Nile-side mall, Blue Blue Bay – so blue they named it twice, clearly – Sun Shadow benefits from a nice view and its large outdoor seating area. The décor and general aesthetic of Sun Shadow tries to replicate that of a Parisian café, but beyond its Eiffel tower-shaped logo, it’s a pretty standard, though pleasant, Cairo café set-up – think wicker chairs, wood flooring and dim lighting.
The same can be said of the menu; everything from coffees, juices and (virgin) cocktails, to pizzas, sandwiches and desserts and it’s the unusual cocktails that caught our eye first, with the café offering peculiar drinks such as mango lemonade and mint & peach (24LE each) – we plumped for a pina colada (24LE), which took an eternity to arrive. When it did arrive it was nothing more than a banana milkshake, which was sent swiftly back, only to return with pineapple and coconut in the banana-milk mixture – still very much not a pina colada.
We tried our luck with a lemon and mint smoothie (24LE) but it too wasn’t quite up to standard, with the distinct flavours of the two main components being rather faint. Hoping the food would fare better, we ordered a hotdog tortilla sandwich (24LE) which is exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately the whole thing seems to have been left on the fire for too long; in addition to the slices of bell peppers inside the sandwich being burnt – not charred, but burnt – the whole thing was very heavy and greasy.
The chicken pasta (32LE) disappointed, too; served in a white sauce, the chicken was overcooked and very much under-seasoned, leaving the whole dish pretty flat in taste. Meanwhile, a poor chicken pizza (32LE) rounded off an all-round frustrating experience; there was next to know tomato sauce or cheese on what was a very thick base.
With a location that many cafes and restaurants owners would die for, we were hoping for more from Sun Shadow; but then the fact that we were privy to infighting between the staff and the fact that the floor was covered in a fine layer of dust, our visit seems to have been doomed from the start.