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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Felfela: Traditional and Tasty Egyptian
If you’re looking for a flavourful, traditional several-course Egyptian meal that won’t cost you an arm and a leg but is nonetheless a step above most hole-in-the-wall eateries in the area, Felfela’s sit-down restaurant is the place to go. The perfect spot for those that appreciate a diverse menu in a casual atmosphere, Felfela is often dismissed as a tourist haunt by many but nothing beats its quality food and very reasonable prices.
Step inside away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Cairo and you’re bound to start chanting ‘Serenity Now’ like it’s your mantra. The interior has bubbling fish tanks on one side of the entrance, and a comfortable dining area made of dark wood and an ornately carved wooden ceiling. Large, potted hanging plants are arranged throughout the venue, and for some odd reason a life-size wooden statue greets visitors at the door; it seems a bit silly but still makes for a charming atmosphere.
It’s best to stick to the basics at Felfela. Ordering any combination of oriental salads is a great way to whet your appetite; and the baba ghanoug and tehina dishes are especially delicious. Different kinds of bread tend to be served on each visit; so it’s recommended that you request your preferred kind, whether it’s soft pita, baladi or toast. The waiters are happy to warm the dipping bread for you if you ask.
In general, the service is good; though it slows to a near halt whenever the restaurant traffic gets heavy.
If you want to play it safe, hamburgers and some pasta dishes are available but undoubtedly the best dishes are the foul Eskanderani (Alexandria-style fava beans), kebda Eskanderani (Alexandria-style liver) and last, but certainly not least, the molokheya or ‘green mallow stew’, as the menu reads. The latter is thick, slightly sticky and compliments a simple plate of rice, French fries or chicken. The tagine dishes are also worth trying; they’re more Egyptian than Moroccan cuisine but nonetheless tasty. Beware of the foul with tehina, though; previous diners have found that the tehina drowns the foul’s flavour. A small selection of beer and wine is also available with your meal.
It may be known as a tourist attraction, but Felfela does offer a solid meal and a nice option for some sit-down foul and taameya.
No matter how much we love pizza, sushi or nachos, our very own traditional Egyptian cuisine will forever remain our go-to comfort food; because let's face it, it's in our genes. Craving some homemade Egyptian food, we paid a visit to Maadi's Kazouza on Street 9, which hits enough right notes in terms of atmosphere and delicious Egyptian street bites offered.
After miraculously finding a parking spot around the corner and doing a discrete little happy dance - spotted by the people in the car next to us - we were greeted by thefriendly staff into an all-outdoors area, where we took our seats next to several fans leaving us slightly pacified in the insufferable heat.
With a traditional Ahwa Baladi setting, Kazouza offers Egyptianised décor with retro touches, including circular Ahwa tables, old-looking salt and pepper shakers, aged frames as well as vintage tin boxes - the kind of stuff you'd find at grandma’s house.
Checking the menu, we were a little disappointed to find that many items were either unavailable or are still to be added in Kazouza’s new menu. .
After some debate, we opted for some fries (8LE) and Cheese Sambousak(14LE) as appetisers, which arrived, hot and delicious, in no time.
The fries were gold and crisp, while the four sambousak pieces satisfied our afternoon cheese-cravings; perfectly crunchy on the outside, with soft molten cheese on the inside infused with fresh mint.
Coming up next was the much anticipated feteer, Kazouza's signature dish served on a wooden cutting board; we went for a Mixed Meat Feteera (50LE) - comprised of sausages, minced meat and salami mixed with vegetables and cheese. We also wanted to try out Kazouza’s Kofta sandwiches (12LE), served in fino bread.
Taste-wise, the feteer was among some of the best we’ve ever had, boasting a fluffy texture, fresh ingredients and a balanced combination of cheese, meat and veggies. As far as the size goes, however, the portion was rather small. The kofta sandwiches were also a success; smothered in tomatoes and tehina, the meat wasn't too greasy and we loved flavourful seasoning.
After our feteer and kofta fiesta - and after washing it all down with some cold refreshing lemon juice and some Karkadeh (11LE each) - we were ready for dessert. Dessert, however, wasn't ready for us; many of the items in the menu, including rice pudding and cream caramel, weren't available at the time of our visit.
We eventually opted for Cream and Custard Feteer (31LE). It must have been fate, though, because we quickly forgot about the unavailable dishes; filled with heavenly fresh cream, sprinkled with coconut and dripping a delicious syrup, it made up for the initial dessert choices we craved.
Overall, we left Kazouza with mixed feelings; on one hand, the food and the service were excellent, the décor and props were creative, but on the other hand, the small portions and the unavailability of several items was disappointing.