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Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.
Foul Mahrous: Foul for Sohour in Garden City
When Cairo 360 first visited Foul Mahrous in Garden City, the street kiosk received an excellent review for its delicious foul sandwiches, and when we returned for sohour one year later, we were happy to find the food's quality remains great.
Located on a small side street near the Canadian Embassy, the street is a bit brighter than usual, lines of small Ramadan lanterns are strung across the street, and the plastic tables and chairs are set out under the light of the street lamp in this small foul paradise.
In the first few days of Ramadan, the crowd is a bit smaller and hosts a pretty wide variety of patrons. On the one hand, it is a cheap foul eatery, but on the other it is located in a rather quiet and serene part of Garden City. However, as Ramadan wears on; expect to have difficulty finding a seat in what is normally a packed venue.
Foul Mahrous doesn’t change its menu at all for Ramadan, which means you shouldn’t expect any specialties like amar el din juice or differently sized or priced portions. On the bright side, you can order the same old items with confidence.
There are no menus here; so listen carefully as the waiter quickly lists all your options. You have a choice of five different types of foul - iskandary with onions, tomatoes, peppers and tehina, foul with salsa (a tomato paste mixture), spicy foul with shatta (chilli powder) and hot oil, foul with butter (a real test for your digestive system), and just plain foul with nothing added but a bit of salt. You can also order an omelette if you’re interested; you can choose between the regular or the Spanish version. All meals are served with a generous stack of baladi bread and you can order a variety of basic sides like white cheese or pickles. .
In general, you’ll pay about 6LE for each omelette or plate of foul and 15LE for a helping of each salad option. Be prepared for the waiter to just throw you a random rounded number at the end of your meal, though; there certainly aren’t any receipts at Foul Mahrous.
Unless they’re still filled, tables and chairs start getting packed up about a half hour before the fagr prayer, meaning Foul Mahrous’ normal closing time of 4AM is not enforced; so make sure you arrive in time to grab a table.
With plenty of new restaurants opening as fast as lightning and raising the bar for fine dining in Cairo, the interest in fast food venues is waning – even burger and pizza places are putting more focus on being gourmet. But, located on Zamalek’s busy 26th of July Street, roasted chicken specialist, Chick Shack, proves that the fast food concept is still popular in Cairo.
Not to be confused in any way with popular American chain, Shake Shack, the eatery’s name attracted some negative attention, but it all played into its publicity. The name is where the similarities end, though; Chick Shack stands out with a unique interior and playful vibe of its own. Some of its standout features include its ringed chandelier, an interesting choice of cold colours and a wall made of A-Treat soda boxes, not to mention the quirky staff uniforms made-up of buttoned-to-the-top shirts, grey trousers, suspenders and hats that Michael Jackson would have been proud of.
The menu is quite simple, with roasted chicken as the main attraction, though other items include Lasagna (34LE), Potato Wedges (8LE), or Tropical Salad (18LE) and can work as side dishes.
We started our meal with Shack Salad (28.50LE) as an appetiser, and as our mains, we went with Half Chicken Meal (55LE) and Chicken Cannelloni (27LE).
A mixture of grilled chicken, green apple cubes, corn, bell pepper, pomegranate and mayo dressing, the Shack Salad was an interesting concoction. We loved the tart taste from the green apple which worked well with the pomegranate and the sweet-corn, but the chicken itself was overcooked and very tough.
Now, let's move to what we actually came for: roasted chicken. Served with sautéed vegetables which had a remarkable garlicky flavour and possibly the best spicy basmati rice, which was cooked to perfection and bursting with Mexican spices, the roasted chicken was well-marinated and had a zesty flavour which popped in every single bite. However, the chicken itself was a little bit undercooked but definitely not raw, and even though it was very tasty, the skin wasn’t as crispy as we would've hoped.
We were worried about the ready-to-serve Chicken Cannelloni, but it was surprisingly tasty. Stuffed with chicken and peppers which had flavours similar to fajitas, the cannelloni was well-cooked and had a generous amount of cream parmesan cheese sauce. Sloppy presentation aside, the cannelloni made for a great vehicle for the chicken.
Overall, there was little to complain about at Chick Shack. The venue stands out as one of the healthier fast food places in Cairo; one that also boasts fantastic service, great staff and a friendly atmosphere. The only downside is that there are no desserts to speak of – but with the concept built on a ready-to-serve approach, maybe a soft serve ice cream machine would be a perfect fit. But that’s just us.