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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Jabal Lebnan: Quick and Simple Lebanese Food at Citystars
If you are anything like this reviewer, you’ll of think Lebanon as a charming and beautiful country. From the adorable Lebanese accent to the delicious scent of their freshly-baked food, everything about Lebanon fascinates us.
Offering a little taste of the culture in Citystars' food courts, Jabal Lebnan is a fast food outlet that has a forebodingly small number of customers. While you peruse the menu, you can see the chicken and beef shawerma being cooked behind the counter. The brick décor adds a sense of authenticity to the whole Lebanese experience.
The menu features Lebanese appetizers including cheese, beef and spinach sambousek. Beef and chicken sandwiches and dishes are also available. The service is friendly and moderately quick. We received our meals around ten minutes after we placed our orders.
We ordered a plate of garlic sauce (9 LE). Served on a small plastic plate with a black olive in the middle, the sharp taste of garlic was delicious refreshment to our senses.
The za'atar mana'eesh is a long time favourite of this reviewer. So it went without saying that we had to try it. Priced at 12 LE, we paid a mere 6 LE. A staff member later explained that there was a 50% sale on pizzas and all baked foods. Soft to the bite, we liked the mana'eesh, but disliked the scarce presence of za'atar. We were also very uncomfortable with the dripping oil that reeked of unwelcome calories. We actually had to numb our diet-conscious principles as we ate.
We then decided to have the shish tawook dish (35 LE). Four chicken pieces chicken are served with a side of your choice: rice, salad or fries. We opted for the fries, which turned out to be squishy and disgustingly oily. We guiltily bought some French fries from a nearby McDonald's, and dipping them in the garlic sauce made for a scrumptious combination. The chicken was well-marinated and had a rosy colour, and we ate it with no qualms.
We also sampled the chicken shawerma fatta (30 LE). Shredded chicken is served with tomato sauce and fried shami bread with a scoop of garlic sauce and pickled cucumber on top. The fatta wasn't the best that this reviewer has tasted, but it wasn't bad either.
Jabal Lebnan most certainly doesn't offer the best Lebanese cuisine in Cairo, but if you happen to be looking for a cheap alternative to satisfy your Lebanese cravings, it will definitely do the job.
There’s a general rule on the Cairo restaurant scene that suggests when a restaurant opens a second branch, it affects the overall quality of the original, so we were rather worried when we paid the new branch of Hayda a visit.
Recently opened at Galleria Moon Valley Mall in New Cairo, the interior uses the same famous chairs, pink and turquoise colour scheme, posters of Lebanese stars on the walls, and white Islamic patterns, but on a smaller scale. The venue has two separated indoor areas; the first one has only four tables and a linear table-set-up that looks like an open buffet, while the second is more spacious and has a lot more seats.
We kicked things off with Sambosek Spinach (35LE); four pieces of triangular pastry filled with spinach and walnuts. The pastry had a great crispy crust and a soft interior and the spinach was perfectly seasoned and had a terrific zesty kick to it, while the walnuts added a great crunchy component.
Moving to the mains, we opted first for the Kofta Azmeer (80LE), which came as three pieces of grilled meatballs stuffed with mushrooms and served in a huge bowl filled with tomato sauce and then sprinkled with parsley and cheese. Despite its appeal, the dish was just very disappointing. Served with rice topped with a scarce amount of toasted nuts, the meatballs themselves were very dry, the mushroom centre was very similar to the canned variety and was completely untreated which made the meatballs feel tougher and drier. Meanwhile, there was far too much tomato sauce, which was bland, while the cheese didn’t really add anything.
On the other hand, the Sausage Fatteh (65LE) was considerably better, though not perfect. The sausage itself was seasoned well and had a great texture and the rice was cooked perfectly; but the bread at the bottom was a bit soggy and the fatteh was topped with tahini not yogurt sauce as promised on the menu. Overall though, it was pretty good.
We finished our meal with Konafah Naboulsy (50LE) with Nutella and Bananas. It wasn’t our first time to try Hayda’s outstanding Konafah Naboulsy and thankfully it had the same crispy crunch, the same stretchy cheese and the same spot-on sweetness, but with the addition of the Nutella, which made for a good match with the fruity, fresh bananas. But although those two ingredients worked together, we felt it was a bit too much with the cheese. These kinds of desserts are usually a hit with diners, but it wasn;t exactly the most innovative of combinations – the chocolate, banana and cheese just never came together as a trio.
This summed up our visit at Hayda’s new branch perfectly – it had its ups and downs. We loved the service and the cosy ambiance, but it’s definitely not as striking as the Nile-side Giza branch and, at the time of our visit, there were several issues with the food.