In a country where satisfaction through food is paramount and laziness often suppresses the desire to cook, we –like many other Cairenes- are hard to please. It’s no coincidence that restaurants frequent the Cairo 360 pages more than any other type of venue; we just love to eat. We’re proud of Cairo’s eclectic pallet, but we never thought that a modest Syrian place in Mohandiseen called Abo Ammar El Soury would have us on such a leash.

Split into two, the shop front is recognisable on Syria Street -of all places- by disorderly queues of people waving their receipts at the shawerma guy who, rather than reading said receipts, asks each and every person the same question: beef or chicken? At 12LE, this reviewer has no qualms in proclaiming, and would dare anyone to question, that Abo Ammar El Soury makes the best shawerma anywhere in Cairo. The tightly-wrapped warm, fresh bread must be the key here, because we can’t see anything special going on with the preparation. In saying that, the meat and trimmings must be laced with something addictive.

Equally as addictive is the shop’s kobeba (3LE) and sambousak (2.50LE), the latter of which of course comes in both cheese and meat varieties. Both are invitingly crunchy on the outside and satisfyingly soft on the inside.

We could wax lyrical all day about those three most basic of items, but the real magic happens in Abo Ammar’s restaurant upstairs. Don’t be fooled by the humble Downtown koshary shop-like surroundings; some fantastic dishes come out of the kitchen, including the chicken shawerma fatta (19LE). Though seemingly simple in its make-up, the three elements of the dish work together in some kind of heavenly accord; bold, flavoursome rice, pleasingly plain yoghurt and the mind-boggling Abo Ammar chicken shawerma.

We also gave one of the restaurant’s signature dishes a go; the Abo Ammar veal meat (35LE). This dish comes with one kobeba, a few fingers of dolma, small side salad, servings of hommos and tomeya and helping of rice topped with the pièce de résistance: pieces of roughly cut but enticing veal meat, which have a tender melt-in-your-mouth quality about them. Apart from needing salt, the rice and meat were both prepared perfectly, and the best praise we could give it is to say that we just wanted more.

The service at the Abo Ammar might be questionable, but the staff does its best not to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of hungry patrons, and are generally very polite and enjoy a little banter. This is only a minor footnote in the story of Abo Ammar El Soury. Of all the food we’ve had, we’ve yet to find fault; a more than valid excuse to keep returning and ploughing our way down the list of dishes.