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Zooba: New Zamalek Restaurant Making Egyptian Food Trendy
Your daily doses of foul, taameya and koshary are found on pretty much every street corner in the city; in Zamalek though, they are a bit more difficult to come across because of all the sushi restaurants, cupcake shops and whatnot taking over. But there is good news for all out there who are craving typical, wholesome, Egyptian food in Zamalek. Newly opened Zooba, located on 26th of July Street, is possibly the hippest local food outlet ever.
Zooba, right next to Café Mex, is easy to spot with its bright blue doors and lovely display of flowers and plants. Zooba’s logo has two birds sitting together underneath an umbrella and can even be found on the tree in front of the shop. The restaurant has the coolest design we have seen in a long time –best described as ‘balady chic’. There is a self-serve fridge to the left as soon as you enter; in true Egyptian style Zooba only has water and fresh juices. Juice wise, you can choose from exciting mixes such as strawberry basil (12LE) and mango rosemary (13LE) that are packaged in delightful bottles. In the fridge there are also salads in shakers, such as lentil salad (13LE), or pick up some foul sprouts (5.50LE) or termis (5.50LE) to go. You can also pick up jars of olive labna (22LE), coriander besara (16LE) or tomato besara (16LE). At the other end of the shop is a counter with a selection of koshary, roasted sweet potato and soup. There are cute baskets you can use to collect your goodies in and while Zooba is essentially a take away place, you are welcome to take a seat at the community table if you prefer to eat there.
All the food at Zooba is prepared fresh and right in front of you. Feeling excited, we decided to go all out and try the beef kibda (28LE), hawashi (14LE), a large koshary (17LE), taameya (17LE), foul with tahina (15.50LE), lentil soup (11LE) and fried potatoes (4.50LE). All the food comes in funky coloured packaging with the name written in Arabic and English. The lentil soup came with baladi bread croutons and was deliciously creamy and tasted fresh and homemade. The koshary was delicious too and we managed to finish the entire bowl even though it was huge. The foul with tehina was tasty with a rich consistency; it was enjoyable but we did feel the tehina flavour was a bit lost. The taameya was very impressive; they weren’t over fried and the inside was soft and perfectly moist. The best thing though, without a doubt, was the hawashi. The meat was excellently grilled with perfect seasoning; the bread around the meat had the right amount of grease and we couldn’t help but order a second portion. The fried potatoes came in a newspaper cone, just like they have them in any local market.
The bread at Zooba is also worthy of a mention; apart from the regular bread they also have some that is baked with spinach or beetroot, giving each a green or red colour, respectively. We ended our dinner with roasted sweet potato that comes filled with equally roasted marshmallows (6LE) and as we expected, you can’t go wrong anything that contains marshmallows.
Everything about Zooba charmed us; the food is great, the staff is friendly and helpful, even the bathroom design is appealing with hilarious bucket-shaped sink and a mirrored wall inside the toilet. There is also good news for people with allergies, as the menus specify whether a meal contains dairy or nuts. Every detail at Zooba has been taken care of and we absolutely love them for that. Bravo!
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.