This famous restaurant’s branch on Kasr El Eini Street is in esteemed company. The modest restaurant is located near several ministry buildings, as well as the headquarters of local newspapers Rose Al Youssef and Al Masry Al Youm. With such a potential goldmine of hungry employees, you’d think Koshary Lux would be on their game. Unfortunately, they are not. The first thing you’ll notice is the ratio of ingredients. Every serving of koshary you get will almost always contain unbalanced amounts of rice, pasta and lentils. To make things worse, the da’a is tasteless, and the shatta (chilli) is very mild.
Also located on the busy Kasr El Eini Street is Koshary El Sabah, which is suitable for koshary eaters who want to eat till they can eat no more. At 3.50LE, servings are large here, and could cost 5LE to 7LE in other Downtown koshary places. Although the restaurant itself feels a little run down, the service is quick, efficient and friendly. Your koshary is served in no time, and the staff is incredibly attentive. In keeping with the somewhat shoddy presentation of the whole place, the da’a may not be to everyone’s liking. Although it tastes fine, it’s somewhat coarse and lumpy.
El Embrator boasts an impressive four-floor space in Sayeda Zeinab. Despite its massive space, the service is very good; but the koshary itself leaves much to be desired. It isn’t terrible, but it’s all very average and characterless in a sense. This mediocrity stretches to the da’a and shatta too, which add little to the koshary. El Embrator still manages to pull in a load of customers, but has to compete with nearby Seto, which is pretty much of the same quality.
Koshary Hamadah is very conveniently located at the beginning of Gamaat El Dowal Street in Mohandiseen. Because of this, it attracts a lot of tourist first-timers, who rave about it. For koshary connoisseurs like us, though; Koshary Hamadah is certainly far from being the best around. It’s unremarkable in every way, but at least they haven’t chosen to take advantage of their tourist clientele by charging high prices.
Zizo’s koshary is decent and hits the spot, although it’s very heavy on the stomach. Some koshary is light and easy to digest, but we’ve often walked out of Koshary Zizo feeling like we need to veg out on a couch. This is definitely a place for koshary veterans; sensitive stomachs should avoid.
With a huge reputation city-wide, Abou Tarek still only has one branch on Downtown’s Champollion Street. This doesn’t stop diners coming from far and wide to dig into Abou Tarek’s koshary. It’s not perfect, though. Our first issue is the prices. The small size will set you back 7LE - whereas most Downtown places will sell it for 5LE - and will never fill you up. We can forgive a 2LE difference, but that’s not the only problem. Many have commented on the staff’s preferential treatment of some customers, accusing them of being more attentive to patrons that they think will give them a larger tip. All in all, the dining experience at Abou Tarek doesn’t live up to its inflated prices, the koshary is only ok and, as you’ll find out as you read on, there is better koshary nearby.
There are very few neighbourhoods left in Cairo without a branch of Tom & Basal these days. Although they serve mostly Egyptian food, they’ve taken on the fast-food chain mentality of quick and efficient service. The koshary itself doesn’t disappoint. Although we often like to romanticise about the authenticity and homemade taste of small local restaurants, you can’t beat the clean and fresh ingredients of a big chain. The care and attention that goes into making all the ingredients is tangible as you dig into your plate. The only gripe we have is their da’a, which is usually heavy on the lemon and short on the vinegar, making it quite sour.
Koshary El Tahrir is a bit of a strange case. Before the January 25th revolution, we held it high as one of the best koshary chains around. Now it’s a different case all together. Their service and delivery have dwindled since the revolution – not just at any one branch, but at all of them. During one particular visit to the branch at Talaat Harb, we were told by staff that no small or medium plates were available, and we were forced to settle for large ones.
We discovered this gem of a restaurant by accident in Shobra. Located behind Shobra El Kheima Metro station, the restaurant is large, and in our opinion, serves some of the best koshary around; it ticks all of the boxes. Not only that; but they also have a few creative takes on koshary, such as an oven-baked koshary dish. We’ll definitely be visiting again soon.
Last but not least is Sayed Hanafy, which we found to be our top pick of all these koshary restaurants. Although they’re famous for having one of the best pasta casseroles in Cairo, we reckon their koshary is top-notch. The da’a and shatta are great; the balance of rice, pasta and lentils is perfect. You can have a side of salad if you like, and they also give you a lemon to squeeze over your koshary, which gives it a nice flavour. Though the Downtown branch is a little small, the restaurant has taken over an area across the road and laid out tables and chairs.
There you have it, Cairo! Happy eating!