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Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.
Shatshat: Spicy Fast Food in Nasr City
Egyptian sandwich shops seem to be taking a step up in style and innovation when it comes to presentation; from the names of their meals to the menu design and ordering process. It is also one way to compete with the bigger fast food chains and stand out amidst the growing numbers of sandwich joints in Cairo.
Shatshat is a new sandwich venue in Nasr City with a menu of mouth watering, enticing and spicy food options. You can pick one of the El-mefalfel rice meals with chicken liver (7.50LE) with some tahabeesh on the side, or, if you can handle it, some seriously spicy hawawshy or 'hawawshatshat' as the venue calls it (10LE).
For shawerma fans, Shatshat will be a disappointment as it's one of the few sandwich places in Cairo that don't make shawerma sandwiches. They've made up for it though with the Miami chicken sandwich (11.75LE), which is more or less a shawerma sandwich with green and red peppers that add a sweet flavour to the chicken.
If you're not much of a spicy food lover, the chicken pané sandwich (12LE) will be a safe choice, and the good news is they don't just fry some chicken out of a frozen box like other fast food joints do; the chicken is marinated and cooked as you'd make it at home, which makes the portions less crunchy but flavoursome.
Though we ordered our kofta meal (25LE) with fries on the side, we received it with rice instead, and they sure make their rice spicy, though it was also fresh and well-cooked. The kofta was served on a bed of tomatoes, onions and peppers and looked a bit pale, but it was fortunately grilled to perfection with a serving of coleslaw and tomeya dip on the side.
If you're not up for cooking on your day off, Shatshat celebrates the weekend with special family meals. The four-meal weekend menu includes a mix grill meal (80LE), which is a mix of chicken, shish tawouk and kofta; all seasoned with Shatshat’s special mixture of herbs. The menu also lists the seafood bamboti meal (80LE), which is served with rice, salad and bread.
Shatshat may not have the hang of things quite yet but they’re getting there. Their sandwiches are good and the service is efficient for the most part; just make sure to double check your order before leaving.
After a more than satisfying experience at Butcher’s Burger in Westown Hub, we couldn’t help but pay a visit to its partner in crime, Gourmet Fried Chicken. Owned by the same restaurateurs, the two diners sit beside each other, almost meshing into one super restaurant – the two venues are separated only by a thin wall.
After being seated, we instantly fell in love with the artwork and the atmosphere of the Gourmet Fried Chicken. Much like Butcher’s Burger, wood is the main aesthetic theme, but there are hints of kitsch peppering the place – especially with the tallow minibus prop piece outside.
Serving specialties from the soul food kitchen, Gourmet Fried Chicken menu offers American-style eats including Fried Chicken Meal served with Butter Waffles (59LE), Big Mama Special – a platter comprised of three fried chicken pieces – mac and cheese served with corn bread and coleslaw (69LE) and the Soul Food Platter – pairing 3 pieces of fried chicken with gravy sauce, mashed potatoes and a corn on cob (69LE) – as well as many other luscious Southern choices.
Anxious to test the authenticity of this scarce type of cuisine, we opted for Mushroom Gravy Chicken served with butter waffles (59LE) and a GFC Tower – a fried chicken sandwich with toppings including onions, jalapenos, pickles, ranch dressing and served with fries (44LE).
Thirty minutes after ordering, our food was arrived and we were keen to try the restaurant’s interpretation of a southern American classic pairing of chicken and waffles. For those who haven’t tried it before, it’s not as peculiar a combination as it sounds – stripped the dish down and you have chicken with cooked batter. Unfortunately, however, the waffles were not stuffed with chicken as stated in the menu, while the chicken and mushroom gravy served on top was sparse.
The GFC sandwich was, on the other hand, the definition of a perfect fried chicken sandwich. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly, boasting a crispy exterior and a tender interior, while the sweetness of the coleslaw perfectly balanced the chilly spike from the jalapenos.
Of the dessert options, we ordered the Churros (24LE) – a Spanish fried-dough pasty that has its roots in Spain, but has seeped into American south-western cuisine via Latin America. Golden, crispy and incredibly tasty, there was little to complain about with the simple dessert – which one might compare to the Middle Eastern bala7 el sham – especially with the rich chocolate dip that comes with it.
Simple is a key word here; when you break down the food at GFC, it’s all very uncomplicated. But what will keep us coming back to the restaurant is that, Mushroom Gravy Chicken aside, it delivers with big flavours. As for the dreaded question of longevity and consistency, GFC is the kind of place that can become a go-to favourite – a valuable trait in Cairo we are, more than most, creatures of habit.