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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Mori Sushi: The Little Black Dress of Sushi
My favourite place to go for raw fish, the small corridor just off Zamalek's corniche is styled in modern contemporary fashion with a chic black interior, leather chairs, glass tables, wire-framed mirrors and sweeping Japanese characters on the walls and ceiling to accent the theme. Ordering from the cool orange plexiglass spiral-bound menu makes my mouth water with its tasty sushi dishes artfully photographed for display.
What really caught my eye was the chef's creativity, assembling sushi pieces I hadn't seen before, and though he gets a little carried away with the cream cheese, some of the flavour combinations are spectacular, like the crisp of shrimp and avocado roll, coated in sweet rice crisps and drizzled with syrupy teriyaki style sauce. Even the classic maki are fresh and simple, showcasing quality ingredients and expertise.
There are, however, some experiments to avoid testing, like the ura roll called the pink panther, featuring a minced crab paste that looks like someone's already got to it before you did.
Thankfully their desserts are on point and I sometimes visit just to treat myself to their Swiss chocolate fondant with real vanilla bean ice cream. It rivals Café Tabasco's melty chocolate soufflé, and in my opinion, wins. Their fruit cocktails are also interesting but cost as much as a small meal elsewhere.
Unfortunately, Mori isn't cheap and a satisfying meal requires that you drop 150-200LE at least, which doesn't seem a problem for UGG clad international school birthday parties blasting Imogen Heap – I thought The OC was cancelled. It does however satisfy my sushi fix, which is the only thing I really miss about home, the servers are extra polite, and even Sequoia has deemed them worthy of their menu.
Set back from the monstrously busy El Merghany Street, Wabi Sabi is a small restaurant known for its sushi. Decorated much the same as its sister restaurant in the Nile City Towers, it’s glass front shows off the contemporary décor; slate walls, bamboo placemats and wooden benches give the place an authentic, oriental feel.
Despite their Heliopolis branch looking the part, the seats transpired to be thoroughly uncomfortable and with no music and no other customers, the atmosphere was both unwelcoming and eerily quiet. On closer inspection, the glass front was in dire need of a clean whilst the wood-effect flooring was totally worn through in some parts. We assumed the lack of other customers would mean we’d get excellent service; however, we had to actively call the waiter over several times during our meal. We were hoping their claim of being 'sushi couture' would become evident through the food.
The menu offers a vast selection of sushi and sashimi, displaying the prices per piece, per 10 pieces and per eight pieces – although they will halve the amount should you not wish to order so many. Other than a couple of soups and salads, no other types of food are available. There is no fancy drinks menu, only standard sodas and water.
We settled on four pieces of ‘blue bay’ (22LE) which contained salmon, crab and avocado ura maki, topped with king kong sauce, and four ‘cheesy salmon’ (29LE) with salmon, shrimp tempura, Philadelphia and avocado special rolls, topped with smoked salmon and black sesame. We also went for four deep fried California rolls (24LE) – rolls filled with salmon, shrimp tempura, avocado and cream cheese – as well as five pieces of salmon sashimi (31LE). At the same time, out of their dessert menu – limited to three options – one of our party ordered chocolate fondant to arrive at the same time as the sushi.
The platter of sushi arrived quickly, neatly presented alongside a large mound of ginger and a small amount of wasabi. The salmon sashimi was the best of the bunch; thick, fresh, juicy and incredibly morish. The sushi itself wasn’t bad, but not overly commendable either, which is perhaps reflected in its mid-high price range. However, all the fish tasted fresh and was wrapped in sticky, fluffy rice. The ‘blue bay’s’ king kong sauce was a spicy pink sauce, overpowering the taste of the sushi itself, whilst the Philadelphia cheese in the ‘cheesy salmon’ special rolls was also fairly potent, again taking the attention away from the vegetable-fish mixture. Most disappointingly, the deep fried California roll was slightly soggy; far from the hot crispy treat we'd been expecting.
After we’d satisfied our sushi craving, we went on to enquire about the whereabouts of our chocolate fondant. Unfortunately, up until this point, the waiter had failed to mention that this dish was unavailable, which led us to bring the meal to an end more swiftly than we’d expected.
Wabi Sabi offers swift meals of average-at-best sushi in a setting with a lot of potential. We’d probably go there again, but only for their sashimi.