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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Koshary El Tahrir: One of Cairo's Biggest Koshary Chains Opens in Maadi
In Egypt, the name Tahrir is synonymous with two things; the revolution and the best known koshary restaurant in Cairo. Right in the centre of the bustling El Nasr Street in Maadi, a new and extremely well-furnished branch of Koshary El Tahrir has opened. This new branch opened in the last days of Ramadan, and since then El Nasr Street has become even more crowded and congested because of people dining at its latest addition.
The Maadi restaurant itself is nothing like the koshary chain’s other modest branches; the restaurant consists of two floors with tens of tables and chairs that are very well-organized and comfortable. A sleekly designed banner and spotlights dispersed throughout the venue give the restaurant a modern and funky image that isn’t normally associated with a koshary restaurant.
The staff at Koshary Tahrir is very helpful and friendly, and the service is quite fast and efficient. The koshary itself is delicious especially after using their amazing da’a (lemon, vinegar and garlic dressing)and salsa (tomato sauce). Spicy food lovers beware; their shatta (spicy chilli sauce) is very strong.
The prices at Koshary El Tahrir are not that different from other leading koshary restaurants: the small size costs 3.50LE, medium size costs 5.50LE, the large size is for 7LE while the king size sells for 8LE, and the mega size (enough for three people) sells for 20LE. This reviewer found the king size portion more than enough for a hungry stomach. Additionally, extra tomato sauce, humus or lentils cost 1LE, and after such a heavy meal, you might want to try their delicious rice pudding or mahalabeya for 3LE to cool down.
As with all good koshary joints, the restaurant caters as quickly to those wanting to take-out as they do to those wanting to dine in, and have a swuft and efficient delivery service.
Soft drinks are available at Koshary El Tahrir, including a large cup of Pepsi for 4.50LE, and a small size for 3.50LE.
Even though legend always speaks of the great koshary of Downtown Cairo, Koshary El Tahrir’s latest branch in Maadi more than holds its own. Yes, it is uncharacteristically sleek and modern, but that hasn’t taken away anything from the authenticity of this staple Egyptian dish.
After rushing around the mall, shopping like a maniac and going from shop to shop, you ultimately find yourself in the food court yearning for a quick bite to replenish all the energy you spent on finding the biggest bargains. Wanting, however, to still fit into our newly bought clothes, we opted for healthier, grilled options from Shakra to Go.
Located in Cairo Festival City Mall’s considerably large food court, one can easily spot the place as it boasts Abou Shakra’s classic logo. It is, in essence, a small-scale Abou Shakra restaurant offering many of the original chain’s wholesome, grilled delicacies.
We grabbed one of the menus laid out by the cashier and began scanning them, not letting the sizeable queue in front of it shake us one bit. The place offers all kinds of meat and chicken sandwiches, including shawerma, kofta and pane options, as well as full-on meals that consist of a meat option and two sides of French fries, rice or sautéed vegetables, or dips such as tehina and tomeya (garlic dip). We also spotted some classic appetisers such as samboosak, kobeiba, stuffed vine leaves and even some pasta.
Upon ordering and paying at the cashier, we were told that our food would take about fifteen minutes to be ready, though it took a little more than that.
Efficiently packaged and well-organised, our order looked promising. Our Mix Grill meal (50LE) was, quite surprisingly, small with only a couple of tiny pieces each of shish tawook, kebab and kofta to speak of. The rice, however, was plentiful and the side of sautéed vegetables was efficient. Our second meal was the Shish Tawook meal (30LE) and looked pretty much similar to the first one in overall size and presentation.
Our food lacked the freshness one always expects from Abou Shakra. Sure, the taste was alright and the food was not at all inedible, yet it was sadly stale and just did not taste like it was fresh off the grill. The rice was filled with chicken liver and raisins, which we were not quite huge fans of either and the sautéed vegetables were a tad too oily.
All in all, for its quite lower prices and smaller venue, the lower quality of the food in comparison to the original Abou Shakra restaurants was quite expected. Shakra to Go does, however, offer more diversity to the food court which is laden with unhealthy fast-food options relying on deep-fried food.