There’s no shortage of places to dine in and around the intersection of El Arish Street and El Haram Street in the Cairo neighbourhood of Haram. Most places are fast food chains, though; and so it was a pleasant surprise when this reviewer realised that Chinese restaurant Wang Fu wasn’t deserted as the shoddy state of its exterior suggested.

Located in the base of a huge building complex, a narrow strip of windows facing El Haram Street is dark and suggests that the place is closed. Walking through the doors, you’ll be greeted with a surprisingly large space filled with tables that seat up to eight people. The interior is brilliantly kitsch, and looks more like a film set that would lend bravado to scenes showing Triad gang members. Blood-red painted wall panels are decorated with gold plastic stick-on dragon emblems, and the odd culturally clichéd prop brightens up the otherwise dark and sombre restaurant.

For starters we ordered the fried dumplings (28LE). Although the six pieces were nothing more than dumpling-shaped sambousak, the meat inside was tender and pink. We did find them to be slightly greasy, though.

The tom yum soup (18LE) was pleasant enough, but didn’t have that kick that comes with the lime juice, lemon grass and chilli peppers like a tom yum soup should. On the other hand, the hot and sour soup (12LE) was close to perfect. Although it wasn’t the best we’ve had in Cairo, it wasn’t far off, and it delivered all the hotness and sourness that it promised, with fresh-tasting ingredients.

Of the many mains options – divided into beef, chicken, mutton, duck and seafood sections – we settled for the kindo beef (30LE), and the chicken with dried chilli and garlic (32LE). Though the beef was tender, and the serving was huge, the kindo sauce that the beef would have been marinated in was lacking somewhat. We should have got a sweet sauce that combined chilli, garlic and Worcester sauce; instead, it tasted like an Egyptian dish.

On the other hand, the chicken was just right, and while it tasted like something that you’d consider Chinese fast food, it was a good version. The combination of the chilli and garlic in the sweet sauce was spot-on, and like the beef, the serving was huge. We ordered garlic fried rice (14LE) and vegetable fried noodles (20LE) on the side. Like the beef, the rice also tasted like an Egyptian dish; specifically the rice you’d get on fatta. The noodles would have been fine but for the bucket loads of soy sauce that they were drenched in.

What Wang Fu has going for it is the fact that there aren’t many other Chinese restaurants in the Haram area. Unfortunately, our food was a case of hit-and-miss. We were the only diners there at the time of our visit, and maybe a lack of customers has translated into laxity in the kitchen.