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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.
We don’t really understand the correlation between summertime and junk food, but it seems like our cravings for all things sinful are heightened during the hotter months in Cairo. The concept of gourmet burgers continues to be trendy on the fad-loving Cairo dining scene and Butcher’s Burger’s increasing popularity has seen it open another branch in 6th of October City’s Westown Hub.
The medium-sized restaurant offer both indoor and outdoor seating and is hard to miss in the food-court thanks in-part to the yellow mini-bus prop in the outdoor area. Carrying its usual relaxed, kitschy, steakhouse vibe, our waiter dropped by with menus as soon as we were seated.
Offering the usual goldmine of burger variations, the menu stays true to the joint’s signatures. The Milano Burger (54LE), which features mozzarella cheese and pesto sauce as toppings, as well as the Hawaiian Burger (52LE), which features pineapple and Teriyaki sauce, definitely caught our watchful eyes.
Ultimately, though, we decided to go for classics, opting for The Mighty Butcher (77LE) and the Butcher’s Mushroom Burger (54LE). Our order, as promised, arrived within 20 minutes.
Both burgers came with a side of French fries, which were a bit too scarce for our liking, as well as a small serving of Coleslaw. The Mighty Butcher, which consisted of a 300g medium-well grilled beef patty as requested, topped with cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, beef bacon, garlic-mayo and caramelised onions, was everything you need it to be: filling, delicious and oh-so-satisfying. The Butcher’s Mushroom Burger was smaller than the former, yet still filling, with grilled mushrooms topping its well-done beef patty, alongside onion rings, as requested and no Swiss cheese as per our wishes. Both patties tasted fresh and were seasoned well, while the toppings and sauces made for good, trusty combinations.
All in all, from the immaculateness of the place, to the friendliness of the waiters ,to the accuracy when it comes to the orders to the mouth-watering burgers, the Westown Hub branch of Butcher’s Burger was almost faultless. We would have, however, preferred our fries, which were oh-so-crisp, to have been offered in a more generous portion.