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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.
You know those days when you just don’t feel like leaving the house? You know, when all you want to do is binge-watch while binge-eating? Well yours truly had one of those days recently, but instead of going for the usual fast-food options, we looked for somewhere with a little something extra – that’s when we decided to revisit Gringo’s Burrito.
Though not a dine-in restaurant, of course, Gringo’s Burrito has two deliver-only branches in Maadi and Mohandiseen, with plenty to choose from— from tacos, chips and dips to quesadillas and burrito bowls. Unfortunately, we received the order 30 minutes after the already indicated 60 minute delivery time –fast food? Not so much.
Nevertheless, we started our meal on a positive note with some Cheese and Black Beans Nacho (24LE); essentially crispy corn chips topped with decent amount of cheese, pico de gallo, and black beans – you have to option flour tortilla chips instead.
Flavour wise, the cheese sauce was delicious and the touch of coriander in the pico de gallo was on-point, but sadly, the crispy corn chips were very soggy due to the packing while the presentation wasn’t appealing at all.
We couldn’t order Gringo’s without trying their main specialty, the burritos, so we picked their Grilled Steak Nacho Burrito (58LE), which brought together pieces of grilled steak, crumbled corn chips, shredded cheese, black beans, cilantro-lime rice, pico de gallo, sour cream and a ‘special sauce’ wrapped in flour tortilla.
The steak itself was perfectly cooked and the rice had a perfect texture, but cilantro-lime flavours were undetectable and the corn chips and cheese were scarce, while the special sauce was lost against the overpowering sour cream. Overall, it was a good burrito, but we expected more from the flavours.
What’s a Mexican fiesta without Chili Con Carne tacos? Three crispy corn tortilla shells filled with chilli con carne, pico de gallo and melted cheese (45LE); the perfectly seasoned chilli con carne was bursting with Mexican spices.
Unfortunately, adding a layer of chilli con carne at the bottom made the taco shells soggy and broke it in no time – adding some melted cheese first or a bed of lettuce would’ve probably saved the day.
The last savoury item we tried was the Tinga Shredded Chicken Enchilada (55LE). Served with fluffy Mexican rice mixed with peas and a bold tomato flavour, the chicken enchilada turned out to be the Machaca Beef enchilada. Yes, we received a wrong order and it was quite dry and not as saucy or cheesy as enchiladas are supposed to be, despite the beef faving great flavours.
Rounding off the rather hit-and-miss experience, the Nutella Empanada (22LE) saved the day. The fried dough with crispy exterior and soft interior was very similar to donuts, was filled with a generous amount of Nutella and was quite delicious and simple.
As a Mexican cuisine specialist Gringo’s has always split opinion since it opened and our experience this time round brought up similar criticisms from previous experiences; the menu promises much in terms of bold flavours, but the packaging and the execution were quite sloppy and didn’t do the dishes justice – especially the tacos and nachos. Plus, nobody likes to receive their food an hour and half late.