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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.
While fast-food certainly has a charm to it, we all have moments when we crave a nice home-cooked meal, but have nowhere to turn to. Fortunately, in recent years, the Cairo restaurant scene has featured several new eateries offering just that.
With the emergence of several of these types of restaurants in Maadi, we turned to the one of the area’s longest running home food delivery services, Akl Beety.
The delivery-only restaurant, located in Nirco’s Fifth Sector, has an enormous menu that features everything from appetisers like mombar and kobeba, to main courses and casseroles, crepes and pizzas.
After scanning the menu, we opted for an order of Kobeba (10LE) and Sambsouak (10.50LE) from the appetisers, Mesa’aa (Egyptian moussaka) with Minced Meat (14LE), Rice with Vermicelli (5LE), Oriental Rice with Nuts (8LE), Meal Number 5 (36LE) and Om Ali with Nuts (13LE) for dessert.
The ordering process was relatively streamlined, but the delivery took about an hour and a half when the restaurant states it should only take an hour if you’re ordering from inside Maadi. This was not explained by the restaurant, and no apologies were made for the delay, even though the kitchen was located less than a five-minute drive from us.
Our food arrived neatly wrapped but relatively cold. We found both the Kobeba and the Sambousak to be disappointing, the former for being under-seasoned to the point of having little flavour, and the latter for being very under-fried. Instead of being a crispy and golden in colour, the Sambousak was almost white and rather chewy.
The Mesa’aa, which had good, deep flavours, but was a little short on the minced meat, worked nicely with the Rice with Vermicelli. The Oriental Rice, however, was much less pleasant, tasting stale and chewy.
Meal number five, which is made up of Chicken Pane, Vine Leaves, Yoghurt Salad, French Fries and a soda, was probably our highlight of the night. Two pieces of fairly decent breaded chicken breast and a generous portion of tasty vine leaves made this meal the best at value for money. The French fries were disappointingly soggy, though, and the yoghurt salad was a little bland.
The Om Ali, surprisingly the warmest dish in the entire order, while tasty, was unfortunately dry and could’ve used some extra milk.
All in all, we found our meals to be quite decent, but it’s difficult to call it anything else. On the one hand, the value for money is great, totalling at 106LE for two people and some food left over, but on the other hand, it suffers the same problem most home-food restaurants do; it still tastes better at home.