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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Kasr El Shouk: Egyptian Restaurant in Dokki Combining New & Old
Many of us can become nostalgic for traditional Egyptian food, especially considering the amount of foreign cuisine that has engulfed Cairo. Classical Egyptian has been in danger of disappearing from the market but Kasr El Shouk in Dokki, continues to fly the flag with a menu that includes favourites such as fatta, mesa’aa, molokheya, stuffed pigeon, and tagen-cooked meat and vegetables.
From the outside, the building that hosts the restaurant looks like a traditional two-storey Egyptian house. Once you enter through the beautiful wooden door, you’ll be amazed at how this place balances modernity and authenticity. Not only does it look Egyptian, but also carries the qualities of generosity and hospitality.
The Om Kalthoum songs that play in background help in creating a soothing, welcoming atmosphere. The lighting was neither too dim nor too bright; which further added to the pleasant ambiance.
The service was almost at hotel standard; we were escorted to the second floor, and then led by our waiter to our table. A short time after we sat, they served us complimentary hibiscus as a welcome drink. A few minutes after we ordered, the waiter brought us warm towels and waited until we were finished to take them away.
We ordered a raheb salad (9LE), tomato and cream soup served with croutons (12LE), and a mixed platter of mahshi (9LE) – which was composed of stuffed vine leaves, stuffed zucchinis, stuffed green peppers and stuffed cabbage, served with yoghurt and freshly baked bread. They all tasted like homemade mahshi.
Before serving our main course, the waiter brought several metal holders with a candle under each, these were used to put under the plates in order to keep our food warm.
We had ordered a tagen she’reya (39LE), veal tagen (55LE),and some fresh kishk (35LE). The first dish had rice mixed with she’reya, and the second was also mainly rice, but with meat added. Both items tasted good but the tagen she’rya had a bit too much salt. As for the kishk; its normal consistency is usually milkier than the one served to us, but it was nonetheless very tasty with its accompanying sauce adding to the flavor. Ultimately
Finally, for dessert, we opted for the nouga Kasr El Shouk (18LE), made up of mixed dry fruits and nuts in fresh ice cream, with a slice of white cake and juice. By all standards, this was the perfect oriental dessert to have after a wholesome Egyptian meal. For the third time we were served sweet potato and again, it was on the house.
Kasr El Shouk is highly recommended because you have the chance to try something you rarely find in other places around town.
Despite the emergence of specialist eateries around the city, we are very much a carnivorous nation – something that the majority of restaurants in Cairo have no problem catering too. One of the main elements of local cuisine is traditional grilled meats and can be found everywhere from Cairo’s hotels, to small winding streets of the city.
Al Araby is a time-tested grill in Agouza, known by locals and tourists alike for providing quality Egyptian food. Donning a traditional ambience, the eatery boasts Oriental decor and a spacious seating area. Stepping in, we were greeted by a courteous, suited manager, before being seated, handed the menus and assigned a waiter.
The menu includes an array of Egyptian dishes including mouza fattah (50LE), mombar (13LE), rice stuffed pigeons (29LE) and many more traditional options. Grilled choices include kebab (140LE per kilo), kofta (118LE per kilo) and tarb (118LE per kilo) along with beef or lamb ribs (150LE per kilo) amongst others.
As an appetiser, we ordered a plate of mahshi (13LE) as well as green and eggplant salads, and dips of tahina and baba ghanough. With so many tempting meat dishes, we opted for half a kilo of kabab and kofta (65LE), a quarter kilo of tarb (29.5LE) and a quarter of beef ribs (29.5LE) for our mains.
A bread basket was soon brought to the table to be enjoyed with the salads and dips, but it was disappointingly cold. Furthermore, the eggplant salad was unpleasant, lacking the signature bitterness, oil or garlic seasoning. On the other hand, the smooth tehina tasted delicious, while the green salad was made with fresh cuts of cucumber, tomato onions and parsley and tasted zesty with the dash of vinegar dressing.
Although we were expecting it to be served as an appetiser, the mahshi was served alongside the meat dishes. Our beef was served on grand, stainless steel trays covered with a bed of shredded parsley; unfortunately, while the beef tasted fabulous, it had been over-grilled to a dry, chewy texture. The kofta sported a soft feel and smoky, aromatic flavour whilst the ribs were served on the bone, grilled to perfection and full of flavour.
We were slightly concerned over the potential fattiness of the tarb – a sheet of lamb fat stuffed with minced meat before being grilled – but to our surprise, Al Araby’s version of the dish was lean, without sacrificing the flavour or texture.
Desserts at Al Araby include cream caramel and mahalabeya – milk with starch and sugar (3.50LE each). With generous portions when compared to their price, the cream caramel was brought on a plate whilst the mahalabeya was served in a small plastic container; both were charmingly chilled and tasted fantastic.
With satisfying traditional food, welcoming staff along with reasonable prices, Al Araby possesses a cosiness that is rarely found in Cairo and is one of those places you’d take an out-of-towner for a quintessential, basic Egyptian dining experience.