For weeks we’d heard rumours about an elusive Sudanese-Ethiopian restaurant somewhere in Dokki that serves delicious food. We immediately took to the streets asking every possible soul if they had ever heard of it. It was almost like treasure hunting. Naturally though, the best part comes when you find your treasure and are eagerly awaiting your dishes.

Arij is an Eastern-Sundanese restaurant located close to the Dokki Metro station on the tiny El Nagar Street which is easily locatable by Hassona. Geography buffs will of course know that Sudan shares a border on the east with Ethiopia, and so culture and cuisine has inevitably seeped over the borders. It’s a typical no frills, hole-in-the-wall type of place with plastic chairs, randomly placed tables and a television on high volume. When we asked the waiter for a menu he instead brought us Om Mohamed who is their version of a menu, as well as the master chef. We made some haphazard requests and were promised something special.

It took a while for the food to arrive which is always a good sign because it probably means it’s freshly prepared. When Om Mohamed finally returned with our plates, we were on cloud number nine. We were crazy about the rigla, which is a spinach dish; it was a little spicy and the fresh spinach was well prepared. We also devoured the salata aswad, which had eggplant and sesame seeds. It tasted like something in between tehina and baba ghanoush. We got a taste of Ethiopian cuisine with the zeghni. It was beef in a spicy sauce with a touch of tomato. Even if you are not a fan of spicy food you should try this. We also had the faneya patatas; a potato and minced meat dish. The potatoes were deliciously flavoured and boiled to perfection – where their consistency was neither too mushy nor too hard. Just when we thought we had all the best dishes, Om Mohamed came out with a plate of sheya lamb. It was hands down the best grilled lamb we had in a long time. Eat your heart out France, Italy and all other countries famous for their lamb dishes. The Sudanese know how to rock lamb. The best part though, was that the food was presented on pancake-like bread; it was very light with a nice tanginess to it. The bread functions as a plate, so essentially, you are eating your plate.

Although we had to hunt it down, our visit to Arij was absolutely worth it, especially as we ended up paying just 120LE for all the food we listed above. We also received side dishes with green salad and lots of bread. Paying 120LE for a group of five for all this delicious food is absolutely a unique experience in this city.