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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 thing we like most about shopping and dining zones like American Plaza is the numerous restaurants and food choices catering for those looking for a full meal or the ones looking for a quick bite on the go. We took a trip to Americana Plaza in Sheikh Zayed where among the many diners they have, we picked Fusion.
Known to be a haven for avid Asian foodies in the area, Fusion combines several Far East cuisines on its menu, including Chinese, Thai, Indian and Japanese.
Unlike the majority of Americana Plaza venues, the modern, orange and black ambiance inspired by the rich Asian cultures in Fusion restaurant, is both authentic and classy.
Tailored according to food preferences, the restaurant’s interior is divided to several sections including a Chinese corner and a sushi bar; the Teppaniyaki table is what stands out about Fusion’s setting the most, with the chef providing you a live show of your food being cooked over an iron griddle in front of you.
Being huge Chinese food fans, we took our seats into the Chinese corner, which encompasses dishes –mostly spicy ones— leaving you with limited choices with mild spices, including Chicken with Cashew Nut (45LE), Kung-Pao Cuttle Fish (45LE), Sweet and Sour Fish (45) and Crispy Chinese Duck (75LE).
We kicked things off with Golden Prawns Bags (40LE) as an appetizer which came in as crispy fried dumplings, infused with shrimps and served with a sweet chili sauce; similar in texture to the Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce.
Our appetizer had a perfect crispy texture on the exterior and a soft one on the interior; we particularly enjoyed the sweet and sour combination in our sauce; only we hoped the shrimps had more seasoning as it seemed there was a missing ingredient.
As our main dishes, we chose Vegetable Noodles (32LE) and a Sweet and Sour Shrimps Platter (88LE) served with steamed rice.
Our noodles were peppery, colorful and quite tasty; except that the featured vegetables were nothing but three types of onions (red, white and Chinese) with a single slice of both corn and mushroom.
Smothered in sweet and sour sauce, our shrimps didn’t have the promised crispy texture we’d hoped for, with an overcooked mediocre taste, which was a little disappointing.
We washed our meal down with a refreshing lemon juice (19LE) and with little room left for dessert, we opted for Fried ice cream (33LE).
Our ice cream had a delightful taste, with a gold crispy hot exterior and a cold delicious chocolate ice cream on the inside; the perfect combo of hot, fresh and cool. It was the first time we try a fried ice cream and definitely not the last.
Apart from several pitfalls including lack of shrimp seasoning in our appetiser and one of the main dishes being over- cooked, dining at Fusion was a delightful experience which we recommend to fans of Asian food. We really enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the prompt professional service which stood out on a busy Friday night.