As a category, International Cuisine - which also includes the Cairo 360 Premium Steakhouse Award - is a tough one to judge, because, as a concept, it's difficult to define. For restaurants in Cairo, International Cuisine often means a mish-mash menu of popular dishes from across the world.
So how do you judge a restaurant's proficiency in this most vague of concepts? Well, the key to a successful 'international menu', is that the kitchen understands and masters even the smallest shades of difference and requisites of its varying dishes, and deliver them with quality and authenticity – something that the winners of the Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards in the International Cuisine category do in style.
Crave (International Cuisine Award)
Though there have been modifications to the original menu that made Cairo fall in love with popular chain, Crave, it was a change that, in hindsight, was needed for the restaurant to keep up with the times – and it's worked. Serving a range of eclectic dishes from varying cuisines, Crave has also managed to achieve a unique personality and atmosphere, unlike so many other chains.
The Edward's (International Cuisine Award)
Though the hustle and bustle of a mall doesn't make for the most comforting background noise while dining, the Edward's – located in Cairo Festival City Mall – envelopes you into its quirky, yet somehow chic, world. Though the menu features largely familiar dishes, it's the kitchen's execution that ensures that the food lives up to the restaurant's image.
Grapes (International Cuisine Award)
Located on the busy Street 9 in Maadi, Grapes, possesses the aesthetic playfulness of a typical, modern Egypt café, and can function as a good hangout. But that statement might be doing the restaurant's quality of food a huge disservice, because from the pizzas and pastas, to their beef, veal and chicken dishes, to their breakfasts, there's not much you won't find to enjoy at Grapes.
Kazlak (International Cuisine Award)
Despite its relatively short existence, the Courtyard in Maadi has quickly become one of the area's most popular dine-and-hangout spots, with Kazlak being one of the main instigators. Big menus often result in and inconsistency in quality on Cairo's dining scene, but Kazlak dishes are wholesome, well-executed and there's something for everyone.
Oak Grill (International Cuisine Award)
Though widely thought of as a steakhouse, Conrad Cairo Hotel's Oak Grill is much more. While the restaurant's steak dishes are among the best in Cairo, the menu encompasses much more thorough the appetisers, mains and desserts, offering and range of fantastic dishes – particularly the seafood dishes. This is fine dining at its best.
The Smokery (International Cuisine Award)
Few, if any, can boast a location quite as spectacular as that of the Smokery. Having recently launched a brunch menu that can be enjoyed on a sunny weekend while overlooking the magnificent Katameya Heights Golf course, there's a holiday-feel to the Smokery, that gives way in the evening to a more elegant experience built on great food and great service.
Ted's (International Cuisine Award)
As another restaurant that's made the best of its mall location, Ted's – located in Citytars' trendy Mosaique Dining Area – keeps you occupied with its own hustle and bustle and, of course, it's delicious, and occasionally ingeniously creative, dishes, as well as its general lively atmosphere. There are few restaurants that are as big, too, with the space having a separate juice bar as well as a 'Cheese Room'.
U Bistro & Bar (International Cuisine Award)
Taking the space that was once occupied by Zamalek bar, Le Bodega, U Bistro & Bar took some time to open after it was announced, but it was certainlt worth the wait. Having completely transformed the space and made it its own, U Bistro provided one of the best dining experiences of the last 12 months, serving phenomenally executed high-end dishes and an equally charming bar experience.
Viking Restaurant (International Cuisine Award)
In just reading the name, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Viking was some kind of theme restaurant. Granted, the chain's first branch did wade into a certain level of kitsch, but a more modern, contemporary branch has let what is a surprisingly high level of food, shine. Don't be surprised to find more branches opening up in the future.
Western Tummy (International Cuisine Award)
As a restaurant and a 'non-alcoholic bar' – they give you complementary non-alcoholic welcome shots and serve non-alcoholic wine – many scoffed at the very notion. Unfortunately for naysayers, Western Tummy's food alone has been a hit with residents in New Cairo, offering a range of dishes that touch on both high-end and casual dining.
JW Steakhouse (Premium Steakhouse Award)
Yes, you have to cough up a small fortune for a full dinner at JW Steakhouse, but that small fortunate affords you one of the best and most unique dining experiences in the city. As the Marriott's worldwide signature steakhouse, there's an old-school, almost traditionalist western elegance to the restaurant that is accentuated with fantastic food and top-notch service.
One Oak (Premium Steakhouse Award)
Thought Tivoli Dome in 6th of October City is overshadowed by the likes of nearby Arkan Mall, one restaurant in particular has given the dining-cluster a boost – One Oak. While other restaurants have tried the sushi-and-grill concept, few have been as successful as One Oak, who attracts as many steak fans as it does sushi fans – top quality across the board.
For more information on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here.