Tucked away in a corner at the Fairmont Nile City Hotel is the superfluously named Alabaster Bar. True to its name, the bar is sleek, shiny and white, but with a good dose of atmospherically dim lighting.

There are only five seating sections in Alabaster Bar; two high tables for bigger groups, two smaller couches that curve around circular tables, and a small bar area in front of the chef. The Fairmont’s staff advises that you call ahead of a visit, but you’ll almost never turn up to be turned away. With a selection of dining venues within the hotel, Alabaster Bar isn’t regularly frequented; even with the extravagantly named all-you can-eat ‘Sushi Mania’ evenings.

At 150LE per person, the setup is perfect for newcomers to sushi. Not only that; but it also works in favour of lazy people who just want to eat, forgetful people who aren’t good with Japanese culinary linguistics, and indecisive people who can never decide what to order. If he has the chance to, the chef himself will come to your table and dabble in a bit of small talk with you, before recommending particular dishes based on your level of experience with sushi, your general preferences and the freshness of his ingredients. The best approach is to ask the chef for a selection, upon which random assortments of sushi will be delivered to your table as often as you like. Each assortment is served on one large dish, ready to be dragged to your own plate.

This is not the place to come to if you’re looking for a truly authentic sushi experience. The majority of menu is dominated by Western-style sushi; i.e. California rolls, spider rolls, Alaska rolls, and so on and so forth. The chef does have some skill in nigiri sushi (the popular combo of pressed rice with a topping); but only true connoisseurs will appreciate the difference.

The quality of the food is invariably decent, but no more than that. The rice is cooked perfectly, but the fish and vegetables feel slightly warmer than they should, and so taste a little less fresh than expected. On the plus side, the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all served generously and on demand in small, easy-to-use bowls.

With this of course being the Fairmont Nile City, drinks are expensive and naturally not included in the all-you-can-eat price. So if the soya sauce isn’t enough to quench your thirst, expect to pay heavily. Like all the dining outlets at the Fairmont, the Alabaster Bar boasts imported wines and spirits; which goes some way to substantiating the high prices. Beers are basic in choice, and sell for between 35LE and 45LE, while a glass of wine can set you back at 75LE at the lower end of the selection, and upwards to 160LE. There are no bartenders as such, or even an actual bar for that matter; just a small stand where drinks are mixed. Because of this, the cocktail menu is exactly what you’d expect, with no surprises, but even the simplest concoction will still cost you at least 140LE.

The problem with the all-you can-eat setup is that it relies on a high turnover of customers; so any restaurant will of course want you up and out as soon as possible. This doesn’t make for a particularly comfortable time, and so this is more suited for a quick, on-the-go meal. Sushi at Alabaster Bar is cheap but not necessarily cheerful.