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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Shogun: Heliopolis Teppanyaki Treat
Where in Egypt can you find dinner and a show under one roof? At Intercontinental Citystars’ Japanese restaurant Shogun; that’s exactly what’s in store for you.
Shogun is a California-based chain of restaurants that specialises in sushi and teppanyaki. The latter is definitely their forte: delicious, filling and fun to watch; while their sushi menu is lengthy, and lacks authenticity.
A fish tank in the centre of the dining room is a pleasant touch in a rather cheesy restaurant that is reached by way of a step bridge over a fake river. Patrons have their choice of sitting at regular tables, which are perfect if everyone in your party wants sushi; or the teppanyaki tables with countertops around the flat grill.
This is not the best sushi restaurant in Cairo; true the fish is fresh, but the combination and execution are a little off. California rolls (65LE) are served with mayonnaise even though it is not listed with the ingredient on the menu. The tekka donburi (150LE) is a bowl of sushi rice topped with plenty of thinly sliced red tuna. It is a good option if you are craving fresh fish and want to fill up without paying for a huge amount of sushi.
Though Shogun isn’t our top sushi pick in town, try it out on Mondays when all-you-can-eat sushi costs 150LE++ and includes nearly everything on the long list of maki, sashimi and nigiri. Just don’t expect to find edamame or seaweed salad on the menu here.
The non-sushi menu includes soups, salads and entrées, but the best deal at Shogun is the teppanyaki meals (ranging from 195LE to around 300LE, depending on your choice of protein), which include miso soup, a shaved cabbage salad in sesame dressing, teppan meat, vegetables, fried rice and a fresh fruit plate. While the soup’s tofu is a bit overcooked and the salad’s dressing is rather weak, the meal is still more than satisfactory.
Watching the chef work– and toss the pepper shaker behind his back while balancing eggs atop one another on the hot plate– is a great pre-dinner entertainment. The main course is delicious; the only downside is waiting for it to cool! The marinade is heavy in garlic and not as salty as those of many of Cairo’s Teppanyaki restaurants. The succulent meat, savoury vegetables and fried rice at Shogun give us a real Japanese-inspired treat in Heliopolis.
Though arguably one of the most popular cuisines around the Cairo restaurant scene, other than in a few hotel establishments in the city, Japanese and sushi restaurants rarely include itamaes - chefs trained to prepare meals in style. However, in the second level of the basement of the Intercontinental Citystars, Shogun strives to provide an authentic Japanese experience.
Aside from feeding their patrons, the Japanese hold faith that a cook must entertain; juggling ingredients and utensils in ninja-like fashion to leave diners in anticipation of the treats to come. This combined with the cuisine’s ability to evoke all the possible flavours and senses, leaves no surprise as to why everyone keeps coming back for more.
Host to a unique ambience, Shogun gives an impression that it was once a warehouse, now converted into a high end diner, adorned with traditional oriental decorations. A focal point of the restaurant is the dazzling selection of exotic fish, swimming around organic coral in the fish tank at the centre of the space. Diners are given the choice between sitting at tables – for sushi only - or at one of the bars surrounding the teppanyaki griddles.
First, we opted for a serving of succulent Black Horse special rolls (120LE); delicious, semi-sweet eel-wrapped rolls stuffed with shrimp and rice. Soon after, we took pleasure in their all you can eat sushi (250LE) selection, served with miso soup and a glass of Aida rose wine. Unlike other sushi establishments, the restaurant also includes unlimited sashimi in their offer, which gives diners more room to enjoy their fine quality fish without the carbs.
Sushiphiles will be glad to know that the chefs at Shogun don't hold back with their cuts of fish; each piece of nigiri, rolls and even the sashimi feature a thick generous portion of sushi. Served at a perfect temperature - a little cooler than room - the sushi at Shogun is of the highest quality with bursting flavour and a tender texture. We were especially impressed with wild Norwegian salmon and the well-made rolls.
Under the umbrella of Ogosho Teppanyaki (395LE), we were served chunks of slipper lobster, a generous cut of fresh Norwegian salmon along with large scallops, cuts of beef, soup, salad and rice. Whilst the lobster was a little over-salted, the rest of the seafood was masterfully prepared with a succulent texture. We were impressed by the itamaes technique, although – rather amusingly – a minor miscalculation by the otherwise first-rate chef, left a smashed egg all over his griddle.
All beef served is Australian, which maintains a high reputation for its quality. Given the choice, we requested our meat medium and were most satisfied with its smoky flavour and juicy texture.
Undoubtedly, Shogun serves up delicious meals in an impressive setting. However, the aura of disorganisation amongst staff means that the high prices are difficult to justify – even for a hotel restaurant.