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Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.
Osmanly: Outstanding 'Sultan Mahmut II' Tasting Menu at Cairo's Top Turkish Restaurant
It's been almost four years since our last visit to Kempinski Nile Hotel's Osmanly, which is one of the few restaurants to have ever scored a perfect five-star rating. The hype was real when we entered the restaurant and our expectations were sky high and the result was very impressive.
We wanted to give Osmanly the ultimate test, so we ordered Sultan Mahmut II's Tasting Menu (350LE per person) which consists of lentil soup, a selection of cold & hot mezzes, a main dish from two choices (although they're flexible and let us pick any main we want) and kunefe. While waiting for our food to come, the waiter came with jasmine-scented water and a bowl to wash our hands at the table as the royals used to do.
Starting our meal with outstanding Turkish Pita Bread topped with nigella and sesame seeds, served with Garlicky Cream Cheese with Olives, Pomegranate Molasses-Infused Olive Oil, and Spicy Tomato with Nuts for dipping, we loved how the bread was soft with crispy edges, and the dips were just as good.
After that, we received a plate with a small portion of sautéed lentils with caramelised onions topped a slice of crispy Turkish bread, which was then showered with hot Lentils Soup. The soup was seasoned-well and had a perfect consistency – not too thick, not too runny – as well as a bold garlic flavour in the lentil mash. The bread still maintained a crunch, too, even though it was swimming in a bowl of hot soup.
Moving to an exquisite mezze fiesta, we received a nine-compartment glass plate full of mezze deliciousness. The plate had six cold mezze – Spicy Tomato, Couscous, Carrot-Infused Labneh, Mint-Infused Labneh, Seafood Mix and Hummus – but the carrot-infused labneh was the star combo, with the the carrot sweetening the tart creaminess of the labneh perfectly. It was nothing less for the three hot mezze, either; the Fried Rice-Stuffed Kufta with tomato and yogurt sauce had a great diversity of textures and exquisite flavours, the grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate Molasses was simplicity at its best, and both pastrami and spinach borek – stuffed Phyllo pastry – had a scrumptious crust and a spot-on amount of stuffing.
As for the mains, we ordered 'Today's Special' and turned out to be the highlight of the meal. A layer of sliced crispy Turkish bread topped with kufta and drizzled with garlicky yogurt and tomato sauces, the special should be regular on the menu! Surprisinngly, the Kufta was made of lamb, but didn't have that distinctive smell of smell good quality lamb; either way, the texture of it was firm yet juicy, while the crispy bread absorbed all the flavours of the sauces and added a beautiful crunch.
We also tried Osmanly's signature dish, Hunkar Begendi; tomato braised beef smothered with char-grilled eggplant cream and beef jus. The eggplant cream was rich and worked well with the tomato flavour in the tender beef, but overall it was a bit salty and really heavy – heavy enough to make you feel guilty, but it's definitely worth the calories.
Few people believe in the quote, "No matter how much I eat, there is always room for dessert," as we do and we finished off our feast with Kunefe, which comes in the form of unsalted mozzarella cheese topped with crumbled konafa and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios. The sweetness was on point, the cheese was melted to perfection and we loved the presentation of the dish.
Like with any great meal, we didn't want our evening at Osmanly to end; the Kempinski's crown jewel of a restaurant ticks all the boxes: unique atmosphere, helpful and welcoming staff and flawless food – but the receipt might make your wallet cry.
“Expect people to disappoint you, then you won’t be disappointed,” is a motto we’ve become accustomed to whenever we here of an international restaurant chain opening in Egypt – yes, we’re talking to you Dunkin’ Donuts, Applebee’s and Burge King. Sometimes, concepts just don’t translate well and other times, the quality is the issue. It was hard not to expect a new disappointment when we paid German Doner Kebab a visit – but we were wrong.
Opening their very first branch in Berlin in 1989, GDK just landed months ago at Palm Strip Mall. As a venue, the place has the same appearance and general mood its other branches; orange and grey colour scheme, black and white posters, simple seats and a glass wall kitchen which shows how the doner is made with so much care.
Moving to food, we started with a Chicken Doner Kebab Combo (52LE). Served with a soft drink and salad or perfectly cooked French fries – you know we picked fries – the chicken doner was a mixture of thinly sliced chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and red cabbage, drizzled with garlic, spicy and yogurt sauces and stuffed into a pita bread that looks like it was pressed in a waffle maker. The chicken was super moist, the veggies were fresh and of noticeably good quality, the pita bread was outstanding and the sauces were full of flavour – overall, there was nothing to complain about.
As for the Beef Doner (40LE), it was exactly the same as the chicken, but we ordered extra Feta Cheese (2LE) on top, which turned out to be a perfect match for the beef. Even though the meat had a great texture, it lacked the moistness we found in the chicken doner and the sandwich overall was a bit dry and needed extra sauces.
We also tried the Durum Chicken Doner (45LE). Wrapped in flatbread, the durum doner had the same ingredients of the doner, but in came in the form of a toasted wrap, with a nice crispy exterior. It’s a great option, but nothing beats the pita bread.
All in all, GDK definitely cheered us up with its noticeable high quality ingredients, delicious flavours, fast service, and it’s definitely a lighter choice if you’re craving shawerma. Let’s just hope it keeps up the quality and not fall in the others’ mistakes –yes you Burger King and Dunkin Donuts-.
All in all, GDK delivers on what it promises, thanks to its high quality ingredients, delicious flavours and fast service – a lighter choice if you’re craving shawerma.