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Islamic Cairo, Cairo, Egypt.
Fitatri El Hussein: Disappointing, Chaotic Fetar in Khan Khalili
For the most traditional fetar outing in Cairo, there is no better area to go to than Islamic Cairo. The scenic buildings, narrow streets, smell of spices and the crowds of people make a picturesque background. In Ramadan, the area of El Hussein has an even more magical atmosphere when the streets are lit up and decorated.
Though it’s known as one of the best fiteer spots in Islamic Cairo, Fitatri El Hussein decided to scrap its traditional menu during Ramadan and team up with all the other restaurants in the area to serve the exact same menu for fetar. This, if you ask us, is quite a shame.
As most restaurants here, Fitatri El Hussein has tables lined out on the terrace by the street. Once you sit down you are presented with salad, tehina and baba ghanough, as well as a big plate filled with meat, pigeons and bread. In all honesty, we weren’t presented with it; the people around us were. We had to ask time after time if we could order food. After finally being able to order, our food was delivered pretty quickly.
Even though we asked for the regular fetar menu just like everyone else, we ended up receiving a small plate with, to be exact, five pieces of meat. There was kofta, chicken and beef. Not only were our portions paltry compared to the tables around us; the meat was also of bad quality. The tehina was reasonable, but it was too fluid and lacked flavour.
The chicken was edible but that is really as far as it goes. We also didn’t receive our orders of stuffed pigeons and, we can’t stress it enough, our plate with meat looked very sad compared to the others around. There was no sign of karkadeh or amar el din around so we settled for Coca Cola and water.
In the meantime, tourist buses made their way through the narrow street next to the terrace, forcing half of the people sitting on the tables there to pack up and wait for the buses to pass. The biggest drama was yet to come. Since the food came from one restaurant and our drinks from another; we had to pay several checks. The meal for two persons amounted to 40LE plus 5LE service charge. We were charged 10LE for the Coca Cola, 5LE for a small bottle of water and another service charge of 3LE.
We would kindly like to point out that the price for other people was the same even though they were served much more food. This reviewer tried to ask the waiter about this, but he refused to answer our questions and walked away.
This fetar experience in Khan Khalili was very disappointing for this reviewer, and certainly didn’t live up to our expectations of a magical Ramadan fetar experience.
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.