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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Taza: Popular Egyptian Shawerma in Dokki
As the long stretch of road that straddles the borders of Mohandiseen and Dokki, Tahrir Street is home to a variety of Egyptian restaurants and food vendors. You can find everything from Koshary El Tahrir to small liver and sausage sandwich stands hidden in the side roads. Taza is a shawerma restaurant that has gathered a bit of a cult following among Cairo’s locals, visitors and expats alike. Outside the small shop, clusters of hungry people gather around the shawerma stand and the cashier. The inside of the shop is usually inhabited by diners, sitting and standing, tucking into their grub.
The menu is confusing, to say the least, because it’s difficult to decipher items such as the chicken roll or the pizza chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, the staff that we sought help from was none the wiser. One glance at the small space of the restaurant is enough to notice that Taza’s customers rarely venture from the shawerma or kofta sandwiches.
We can see why, though; because the shawerma is pretty addictive. The small and medium sizes are redundant and completely insufficient for satisfying a craving. For 11.50LE, you get a large, perfectly seasoned and cooked shawerma sandwich, whose tehina and salad are as essential as the meat itself. As with all shawerma places; the chicken version just doesn’t live up to its beef counterpart. We usually expect to complain about greasy meat in a shawerma sandwich, but the chicken was actually a little dry.
Taza also offers a range of more substantial grilled dishes including kofta, shish tawouk and grilled chicken (16LE). We tried the latter and found it to be unspectacular, but as good as a 16LE half-chicken could be. It was pretty heavily grilled and had that nice charcoal-grilled taste.
We also tried a portion of fries (2.50LE for the medium, 4LE for the large) and were presently surprised. Taza’s fries have a slightly chunky, floppy and unevenly cut quality about them.
Of course, no Egyptian sandwich joint would be complete without foul and falafel sandwiches, and Taza offers them as such for 1.25LE a pop. However, we’d recommend you pop over to Gad across the road, because based on our falafel sandwich, Taza spends more time on its meat sandwiches; the falafel was cold and dry.
It’s easy to see why Taza has become so popular and continues to be so busy. The delicious shawerma sandwich is the restaurant’s pillar, but you’ll need patience and thick skin to tolerate the queues and blasé staff.
The drinks menu is very vague when it comes to sodas so we used our common sense and ordered a diet coke which came in one of those cute, vintage glass bottles. We weren't offered a glass or a straw but we assume, had we asked, they would have provided either. 3am 7awawshy also serve a simple selection of hot drinks (6LE-9LE) and, more unusually, sugar cane (4LE).
Unfortunately, the Om Ali came at the same time as our meal but, when we got round to it, it was still hot, and absolutely delicious. Under the thin layer of milky skin, the ramekin dish was filled with saturated bread, sweet raisins, nuts and we even tasted some coconut in there - definitely something to add to our own Om Ali recipes.
However, these things didn't take away from our dining experience - it's very early days and even so, we send our sincerest compliments to the chef, and their interior designer for creating such a quaint and delightful hawawshy place.