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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.
The lengths that one is prepared to go to for good burgers in Cairo are pretty much infinite. Despite a whole host of gourmet burger restaurants opening around Cairo in recent times, there’s one place that has been around well before them: Fuddruckers.
Located near the small fountain in the outdoor restaurant area, the Mall of Arabia branch of Fuddruckers offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The waiter by the entrance welcomed us and led us to our requested outdoor table, which was notably immaculate. The venue itself was rather crowded during the time of our visit.
Menus were laid before us in no time and we began to scan them with rumbling stomachs. Fuddruckers offers perhaps some of the most appetising starters around; from Mozzarella Sticks (42LE) to Buffalo Chicken Wings (39LE) – some of the items can make for a full meal themselves. For main courses, Fuddruckers offers its infamous burgers, alongside steaks, chicken sandwiches, wraps, protein-topped salads and chicken and seafood platters.
Looking for something a little more exotic, we went for Caribbean Chicken Salad (44LE), alongside the sinful-sounding The Works Burger (47LE/ 1/3 lb.). Fuddruckers offers burger patties in 3 sizes; 1/3 lb, ½ lb and 2/3 lb; knowing, however, how generous their servings usually are, we decided to go with the smallest patty to save us the trouble of eating long after we were full.
One of the many available waiters came by and swiftly took our order and within twenty minutes, our glorious dishes were garnishing our table. The Caribbean Chicken Salad, which consisted of chopped lettuce, pineapple pieces and tomatoes topped with grilled chicken chunks and tortilla crisps, all drenched in honey mustard dressing was quite the tangy surprise; it tasted distinctly fresh with the sweetness of the dressing and pineapple pieces balanced by the savoury grilled chicken.
The Works burger, which comes with a side of French Fries, and consisted of a beef patty topped with sautéed mushrooms, cheese, lettuce, tomato slices, beef bacon and mayonnaise, was quite the hefty delight. Needless to say, we contemplated unbuttoning our jeans to leave some breathing room for our newly stretched stomachs. We would’ve, however, preferred a little extra mayo on the burger.
All in all, Fuddruckers, as usual, did not disappoint, with its efficient service and scrumptious dishes. Our food tasted fresh and was presented quite well, while the waiters were always around in case we needed something.