Once you get over the claustrophobic feel of the open-air Shishawy Café, which is at the centre of the second floor of the Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo in Garden City and surrounded by twenty floors of high walls, you’ll begin to enjoy the dim candlelit atmosphere and the Ramadan TV shows projected onto one of the café’s large whitewashed walls.

The sohour menu is quite robust and at 120LE per person, it is worth just about every piaster. Start off with your choice of a Ramadan drink; the amar el din is excellent and the karkadeh is the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. While you’re waiting for the first dishes to be brought out, try a medusa shisha (one bowl with two hoses). Shishawy is famous for its exotic shisha flavours and mixes. The liquorice flavour isn’t as strong as this reviewer expected, but it is still smooth and pleasant; just beware the price tag of the medusa – a Ramadan special of 100LE!

First up on the menu is a small bowl of yogurt that you can have either plain or with fruit on top. Ours came with some puréed strawberries that, while quite pretty, made the mixture very watery and a bit awkward to eat. The accompanying mezza platters consist of a delightful array of meats and cheeses, from mouth-watering basterma to creamy brie and a strong Swiss. You can improvise some delicious sandwiches using the fresh bread provided or use it to lap up the hummus and spicy baba ganough. You’ll also receive small dishes with cheese and spinach sambousak, a kebbeh ball, and stuffed vine leaves.

Leave room for the main dish, which is your choice of shawerma, kofta or a number of egg-based options. The shakshouka is delicious and shaped into a small dome, making it look almost too pretty to eat. For having nothing but meat and a few peppers in it, the beef shawerma is also surprisingly amazing; every bite is juicy without being greasy and it is spiced to perfection.

Just when you’re sure you can’t eat anymore, take a big breath and prepare for dessert. Again, there are a number of choices ranging from om ali to fresh fruits or an assortment of Oriental pastries. The om ali is about as good as it gets and while the assortment of baa’lawa, kahk and konafa as well as other oriental sweets are really very good; we’ve tasted better around Cairo.

Though the shisha was unnecessarily expensive, Shishawy was an overall excellent sohour experience, complete with a live oud performance throughout the evening and an incredibly attentive and polite staff.