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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.
Located in the recently opened Porto Cairo, Le Grand Royal offers two types of outdoor seating; right in front of the restaurant’s facade and across from it overlooking the dancing fountain. Being ones who appreciate a nice view, we chose to sit right next to the fountain and were led to our table straight away.
Wanting to grab a satisfying meal after a long day at work, menus were nowhere in sight - even a few minutes after we had been seated we still had to call for them.
When the waiter arrived, he laid out two types of menus on the table; the food menu and the drinks and desserts menu. Upon inspection of said food menu, it was clear that Le Grand Royal had a lot to offer in terms of food options. Appetisers, with the Shrimp Konafa being the only item that stood out to us, steak and chicken sandwiches, pizza, burgers and all kinds of beef, chicken and seafood dishes.
The drinks offered were also extensive, with ice-cream based cocktails, fresh juices, smoothies and coffee. The desserts are exclusively western and consisted of gateaux, cheesecake, crepe and ice cream.
We opted for the Chicken Royale Pasta (42.50LE) and the Chicken Florentine (68.50LE). As for our drinks, we picked the Lemon-Mint juice (22LE).
The food didn't take long to arrive and was graciously laid out on our table within a few minutes and we began to dig into our dishes. This, of course, was the moment the dancing fountain show started and we were sprayed with water — so, don’t sit next to the fountain.
With very neat presentation, the food certainly looked appetising. The flavour, however, was lacking. Drenched in a creamy mushroom and pesto sauce, the pasta was heavy beyond words. The Chicken Florentine, meanwhile, which is basically fried chicken with a side of pasta all drenched with the same heavy creamy sauce, was even heavier. Given the fact that the chicken was already deep fried, soaking it in such a heavy sauce is just a big no-no. Our Lemon Mint juice, however, was quite the opposite; light and refreshing.
All in all, our experience at Le Grand Royal was neither terrible nor amazing; it was, to say the most, average. The overall service was quite efficient, but we couldn’t finish our plates, despite the state of hunger we were in, due to how dense they were.