Sign in using your account with
Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Jaz Restaurant & Café: Relaxed Shisha Hangout in Sheraton Heliopolis
Across of the Arab Academy for Maritime Science and Technology in the Sheraton Heliopolis area, Jaz is found with an outdoor seating which adds to the beauty of the place – many of the Academy students go there to blow off some steam during their break, and since its run completely by youth, it appropriately caters to just that.
It had been a warm, sandy day so we decided to take a seat inside. A friendly waiter opened the door for us and we chose our own seating. The interior design of the place is fabulous; the choice of blue light makes it cheerful and relaxing, while at the same time allowing the place to be well lit. The tables are well separated, giving a sense of privacy.
We decided to evaluate Jaz’s shisha capabilities and went ahead and ordered an apple shisha (20LE). Aside from a couple of spelling mistakes, the menu was clear. It included a pizza section, with a regular margarita costing 32.99LE and a chicken barbecue one for 37.99LE. All burgers and club sandwiches come with a side of fries so we went ahead and ordered a classic cheese burger (27.99LE) along with a hot chocolate (12LE).
Our apple shisha arrived soon after we were done ordering and it is possibly the best apple shisha in the Heliopolis district; the apple tasted crisp and clear and it remained as fresh for the remainder of our stay. Made with a hint of caramel, the hot chocolate tasted delicious. The burger exceeded our expectations where the meat was very juicy and cooked to perfection.
Of the few complains we had, we couldn;t help but be irked by the poor air-conditioning, which did little to ease what had been a hot and stuffy day. On top of that, the sound of a loud blender was also present throughout, as the 80’s music playing on the loud speaker tried to drown it out.
Our experience overall was an enjoyable one. With a laid back staff, Jaz calls out to the youth looking for a new hang out spot to frequent. The prices are very reasonable; the shisha and hot chocolate are beyond perfect. However, the strange mix of sounds coming from the kitchen and the speakers, as well as the indoor temperature, detracted from the overall comfort factor. Despite these problems, seldom do we find a café that so easily fits fits into the mould of a regular hangout for friends- a place where one would not have to worry about what to wear, or who you’d hang out with. Jaz is one such place.
When it comes to gimmicks, Cairo's cafés are pretty shameless and Bungalow is no different. True, it’s all on one floor – if we overlook the three steps leading up to the reception area– but in reality, ‘Beach Hut’ is more the vibe given off by this Maadi café-restaurant. Boasting a chilled outdoor area and a funky straw-roofed bar tucked away around the back, Bungalow offers a casual hangout spot which, with a little imagination, could be Maadi's own tropical island. Sadly, the venuelacks that bit of imagination to make the most of its look, and although there are a few Asian delicacies on the menu to spice things up, the overall experience is a bit bland.
There was no grand welcome for us at the gate; rather, we had to poke around before we could find anyone to seat us, and service stayed pretty aloof throughout our whole experience. Diners have the option of sitting inside, open-air or in a sort of shed/conservatory construction (known as the pergoda), which for the most part was a bit dingy. In keeping with its bungalow theme, the décor was understated, with soft lighting and no art; just a few willowy twigs for that natural look.
We arrived in time for lunch, and flicking through the menu, we found a few ‘Asian style dishes’ which did make a pleasing change from other cafés around the city. Cooperativa (the Asian way) was available as an appetiser for 30LE and consisted of cold chicken cuts, served with vegetables, teriyaki, and sesame. Instead, we ordered Bungalow snacks (34LE) which came as a selection of chicken strips, mushrooms, spring rolls and onion rings, all coated in a thick and crispy batter which was delicious. The spring rolls, however, were all roll and contained hardly any vegetbles, and the few we uncovered were soft and bland anyway. It came with a trio of dips, but other than the garnish of grated carrot it was difficult to see what the chefs could have done more than heat up some generic finds from a supermarket’s frozen aisle.
The main dishes weren’t particularly inspiring either. We went for a BBQ Bungalow sandwich (35LE) which was a scruffy white roll, which tasted dry and stale with a modest filling of chicken, mushroom, peppers and olives, all in a creamy tangy BBQ sauce. The sauce tasted rich and spicy and bought to life the softer flavours of the mushrooms and chicken. The sandwich was served alongside spicy seasoned fries, and yet more fresh olives. The quality of the produce was disappointing; we could have done with a bit more effort with the bread and a lot more chicken. We also got a Bungalow smoothie (28LE), which turned out to be a cool, juicy blend of fresh fruit. There were double page spreads for both hot and cold drinks, so perhaps this is where the Bungalow chefs focus their attentions.
While Bungalow looked to be a hit with lunch hour office workers who came to sit with one of the fruity shishas and a cool drink, for food it’s nothing special - although throw a hula party and spice up the menu and we'll be there.