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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.
Asian cuisine has found itself a comfortable place in the hearts of many Cairenes. There’s hardly a mall or a food court without either a Chinese, Thai, Indian or even a Korean restaurant, not to mention surge of Sushi restaurants across the capital that are now almost as common as kabab and kofta.
Naturally, these Asian restaurants have managed to flourish, and some chose to expand beyond malls and food courts, as with our latest example Asian Corner.
Located in Ismailiya Square in Heliopolis behind the Salam Shopping Centre, small road signs will guide you into a quiet back road. The restaurant has a chic glass facade and its interiors are nothing like its other branches. Modern decor with light wood, ambient lighting, different seating areas with chairs and couches and bar stools make for a pleasant and warm atmosphere, far from the bustle of malls and food courts.
The menu consists of a check list where you choose your dishes and hand it back to the waiter. With options including everything from fish to duck to desserts, and a separate sushi menu, we were set.
The food started arriving about 15 minutes after we ordered. From the appetisers, we opted for Shrimp Konafa (39LE) served with garlic and coriander. From the main courses, we chose the Yaki Tori (44LE) and Spicy Beef with Potatoes (45LE) accompanied by Vegetable Noodles (20LE) and Nasi Goreng (32LE).
The beef was thinly sliced and topped with bell peppers, onions, cabbage, soy sauce and potato cubes. It was mildly spicy, but the beef was slightly undercooked.
The Yaki Tori, a chicken teriyaki dish, was delicious and executed brilliantly. The chicken breasts are thick-cut and made with honey, sesame seeds and sweet soy. Unless you specifically dislike sweet and sour, the Yaki Tori is the dish for you.
The Nasi Goreng – fried rice with shrimps, eggs and vegetables – is one of the best dishes on the menu, simply because of its huge portion and generous amounts of toppings. The vegetable noodles are decent in portion and made with bell peppers and cabbage. Our order was lightly low on salt, but that’s intended for you to adjust salt to taste.
We enjoyed our experience, and enjoyed the portions and great service, but we would like to see ready meals in the menu as many customers were confused by assembling the meal, and each entry having its own price.