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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Golden Dragon: Pleasant Chinese Restaurant in Zamalek
Many in Cairo have strong feelings when it comes to good Chinese cuisine, or rather its lack thereof in Cairo. We bear good news worth rejoicing over!
A new Chinese restaurant has opened on Mohamed Mazhar Street in Zamalek to cure your craving for Chinese; and cure it they do. Sharing the ground floor with the Nile Zamalek Hotel is the Golden Dragon. Though its doors have only been open for a few days, we suspect that this little eatery will hit the neighbourhood’s hot-spot list very soon.
The atmosphere boasts that quintessential, kitschy decor typical of many Chinese restaurants, while their mascot, a fearsome flaming-nosed dragon, can be found gracing the menu’s cover. A simple layout of tables and chairs fill two adjacent rooms, the awkward design of the chairs may take a minute to get used to.
A broad drink menu includes a chilled Thai Juice (10LE) while a Stella will cost you 19LE. Starting at 25LE, spirits and wines are served by the glass and a bottle of Omar Khayyam will set you back 105LE.
Boasting a wide range of options, the menu is filled with traditional dishes that include appetisers of vegetable spring rolls (9LE) and fried wontons (30LE). The spring rolls are served delicately fried with crispy vegetables in the centre, while the fried wontons are filled with tender chicken. A three-sauce plate accompanies both carrying chilli, soy and a tasty plum sauce. A variety of soups and salads are also available, and start at 7LE.
Main courses consist of duck, chicken and fish as well as beef dishes, barbeque and pasta selections. For 66LE, the kung pao shrimp is served appropriately portioned with well-seasoned shrimp and a delicious combination of sautéed cashews, peppers and carrots. Mixed with a modest amount of sweet and sour sauce, it provided the perfect kick and our dish wasn’t swimming in sauce to stay alive; an unfortunately common battle. Simply consisting of juicy shredded chicken alongside sautéed string beans and onions, our ginger chicken (35LE) was evenly flavoured and light; pairing well with the steamed rice (7LE).
For dessert, we opted for the fried banana and honey (20LE). Prepared in individual slices and fried rather heavily, the portions came scorching hot and placed in a large serving of an odd honey/corn syrup mixture. If it weren’t for the disappointing sauce, it would make for a nice indulgence.Needless to say, the Golden Dragon is a pleasant surprise, and seeing as how good Chinese cuisine isn’t prevalent; it’s highly recommendable.
Finding an Asian eatery on the eclectic Cairo restaurant scene is not a hard task; finding one that’s authentic is, however. Outside of high-end restaurants such as 8, for example, most serve up a more Westernised-version of the cuisine, though authenticity has become a hot trend as of late as more restaurateurs look to break from the pack and it was our first question as we headed to Wok and Walk, an Asian restaurant and takeout venue in Heliopolis’ El Marghany Street.
Similar to many cafés in El Marghany area – as well as Wok and Walk’s Maadi branch – the restaurant has a sidewalk seating arrangement, along with a small indoor area that features wooden benches and colourful chairs. It’s simplistic interior that stands out most for its exposed kitchen.
After browsing the menu, which involves a make-your-own meal section –with your choice of protein, rice or noodles and sauces – and a combo meal section that includes Chicken Tandoori (45.95LE) and Shrimps with Spicy Sauce (52.95LE), we opted for Beef Spring Rolls (16LE) and a make-your-own Sweet and Sour Chicken (48LE), alongside a Beef Black Pepper Combo (46.95LE).
Coming warm out of the kitchen, the four crispy spring rolls were stuffed with fresh and tasty vegetables, though little-to-no beef, which left us wishing we would’ve ordered the vegetable spring rolls instead.
Our chicken sweet & sour vegetable noodles, on the other hand, were extremely delicious, with well-seasoned chicken cubes, tasty and flavourful spiral noodles cooked al dente, and a thick sauce perfectly complimenting the overall taste.
The black pepper combo was just as good, boasting equally delicious vegetable noodles and tender-to-the-touch beef chunks, complimented by a mildly spicy black pepper sauce. The side of wonton chicken was fried to a perfect crisp and stuffed with a fulfilling cube of tender chicken.
After finishing our meal, we were ready for dessert and between limited choices like Fried Banana Roll with Nutella (20LE) – unavailable at the time of our visit – Fried Pineapple with Honey (17LE) and Fried Banana with Honey and Ice cream (17LE), we opted for the latter.
Served as six large pieces of batter-coated, deep-fried bananas, drizzled with honey and topped with a small scoop of chocolate ice cream – not vanilla as mentioned in the menu – the dessert was crunchy and delicious on the outside and creamy and rich on the inside – a perfect combo for any dessert.
While it was slightly off-putting to see leftovers on our table when we were seated – and uncomfortable to be surrounded by stray cats while eating— nothing could take away from the execution of the food. With tasty and noticeably fresh dishes, Wok and Walk could well become a go-to for residents of Heliopolis. But is it authentic? That's debatable.