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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!
The newest restaurant to open in Downtown Cairo is the surprisingly sleek Masrawy. Having timed its opening for Ramadan, the new eatery on Bustan Street offers no-frills, wholesome food for fetar and sohour.
There are eight hearty meal options to choose from for Iftar and each offer a diverse and healthy mix of foods including drinks and dessert.
The cheapest of these eight choices costs 22LE and consists of quarter of a chicken, rice, mixed vegetables, mixed salad, Egyptian bread, Oriental dessert, one bottle of water plus a special fruity Ramadan drink. You can also replace the chicken for meatballs in a tangy tomato sauce with pasta.
The most expensive meal on the fetar menu is the Mixed Grill (80LE); but don’t be put off by this significantly higher price because the portion can easily feed two people. The selection of meat is simply delicious. Included in the Mixed Grill option is: ¼ kofta, ½ chicken, ¼ kebab, 2 juicy lamb ribs, a thick soup, basmati rice, green salad, tahina salad, garlic salad, bread, a bottle of water and finally, that special fruity Ramadan drink.
The prices at this new restaurant are highly satisfactory considering the diversity that comes in just one meal choice and of course the large portion sizes that we really love and appreciate. The service is great too; staff is all dressed in bright orange to match the interior of the restaurant.
Masrawy is extremely spacious taking up two large air-conditioned floors plus outdoor seating; it’s clean, fresh and almost sparkles beneath that perfectly adequate lighting. Large tables are available for families or groups of friends plus some quieter tables for two all prepared efficiently and the food is served in stylish ceramic dishes, which really add to the atmosphere and pleasant dining experience.
Masrawy’s sohour menu consists of a lighter and significantly cheaper choice of meals than feter, but there are only four different choices. The cheapest of these costs a mere 10LE and consists of a generous serving of chunky foul, two falafel, green salad, yoghurt, bread and water. On the other hand there is the ‘Masrawy Special’ which costs 18LE and is highly recommended, consists of omelette, a cheese plate, three falafel, salad, bread, yoghurt, french fries and a bottle of water.
There is no daily menu as yet for Masrawy as the focus is purely on Ramadan but the restaurant has managed to burst into the Cairo scene immediately attracting attention and reeling in customers. The seating is comfortable; the large air-conditioned space is refreshing and they serve a top-notch fetar.