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Mokattam, Cairo, Egypt.
Al Dahan: Traditional Egyptian Grill in Mokattam
Al Dahan is a large, air-conditioned and newly fitted, 90-seater restaurant located on the Suzanne Mubarak Road, midway along Street 9. It prides itself on serving the highest quality traditional Egyptian food.
Upon entering the restaurant, you are immediately attended to by the smartly dressed and ever smiling staff, who guides you through to the open, clean and spacious dining area. The decor is simple and tasteful; Oriental with a modern twist and plenty of marble and dark oak-wood finishing. The menu is simple and is in both Arabic and English, offering the usual suspects of grills, tagines, soups, salads and side dishes.
A waiter will attend to you within minutes of being seated and regardless of how many times you ask for a recommendation, he will almost certainly tell you everything ‘tastes excellent’.
This reviewer’s recommendation is to opt for the meat dishes over the chicken if you prefer fuller flavours but if you are after a lightly spiced meal, the half-grilled chicken with mixed rice and salad is a bargain at just 29LE. The rice is the thick, traditional kind, which is fluffy and moist, but you can also opt for the lighter basmati rice cooked with turmeric. Both can come plain or laced with veal liver or nuts. The chicken is grilled with a crispy outer skin and moist inside whilst lacking a little in salt.
Meals came out of the kitchen within ten to fifteen minutes and tasted fresh. The specialty is the fatta, served with lamb, veal or kawaraa’ (marrow), but if you’re feeling adventurous, we recommend the tagine meals, which may take slightly longer but come in a tempting variety including with molokheya, which tastes homemade and not at all overcooked, or with okra or orzo.
Portions are big, so be prepared; a kilo really does mean a kilo. This is where Al Dahan comes into its own. The kofta, ribs and tarb are marinated and cooked to perfection, arriving at your table fresh off the grill on a bed of diced carrot and greenery. A kilo will put you back between 100LE and 150LE, but the meat is definitely good value for money.
You will not be offered the customary free water but soft drinks are available at an average price, and the most expensive drink on the menu is Nescafé at just 7LE. Home delivery is available in surrounding areas including Nasr City and Maadi.
With the scorching hot summer weather lurking just around the corner, what better way is there for one to bid farewell to spring’s refreshing breeze than by lounging around in the late afternoon whilst grabbing a light lunch? This is exactly what we intended on doing when we hit up 6th of October’s well-loved spot, Tempo.
Overlooking an impressively spacious golf course, Tempo manages to emit a homey feel due to its laid back outdoor tables and cosy indoor seating area, which is complemented with bookshelves, a TV set and comfy couches and cushions.
We escorted ourselves to a vacant outdoor table, and were soon greeted by a friendly waiter already holding up some menus. A couple of minutes later, a complimentary bread basket boasting fresh, crunchy crackers, and a spicy cheese dip made their way to our table.
Tempo’s menu is rather concise and to the point covering a few basic dishes like pizzas, pastas, a couple of seafood options, steak and a couple of chicken dishes. On the weekends, Tempo extends its menu to offer sandwiches, salads, soups and a handful of appetizers including Shrimp Cocktail (55LE) and Vegetable Spring Rolls (32LE).
Settling on Creamy Chicken Fettucine Pasta (55LE) and the Allegria Burger (56LE) for our main courses, we awaited their arrival with rumbling stomachs. Twenty minutes later, the dishes were laid before us.
The creamy sauce of the Pasta was quite dense, and a tad lacking in seasoning, but the abundance of chicken chunks did balance that out. The Burger, on the other hand, which came with a side of a handful of French fries, was adequate but not exactly mind-blowing, featuring a basic oomph-lacking but well-cooked mushroom-topped beef patty.
Not feeling quite full from our main dishes, we decided to peek at the dessert menu, and surely enough, we opted for a Tiramisu (25 LE) and a Chocolate Tart (25 LE). Taking another twenty minutes to serve, what both desserts lacked in size, they made up for in scrumptiousness.
The Tiramisu, made up of layers of coffee soaked lady fingers and cream cheese, was light yet decadent, whilst the chocolate tart, which was more accurately a chocolate fondant, featured a hot molten dark chocolate filled cake accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream- our sweet tooth alter ego was, needless to say, definitely satisfied.
On an ending note, we loved the overall ambiance Tempo ever so gracefully carried with its unpretentious simplicity. The food was, admittedly, not the most creative in town, but it was, at the end of the day, free from any tremendous culinary faux-pas. Finally, the service, as well as the view was top notch.