Sign in using your account with
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Bua Khao: Delicious & Affordable Thai Food in Maadi
Cairo is constantly being introduced to new restaurants that promise authentic cuisines and one-of-a-kind experiences; however it is sad, but true, that most of these ventures fail to make the mark. Not Bua Khao, though. Just off Horreya Square in Maadi, this Thai restaurant is no secret to the residents of Maadi; on the contrary, it is their proud and hidden gem.
On the same block as Cellar Door, Bua Khao is very humble despite its popularity. Going upstairs to reach it, the actual interior is not that impressive. In fact, it's actually quite shabby, but the downplayed décor adds to the charm and experience in a way – it highlights the food, which is the whole point.
After choosing a seat towards the back of the restaurant, we received our menus and quickly made our orders from the different selections of appetisers, soups, curries and noodle dishes. Feeling hungry, we settled on the vegetarian spring rolls (10LE) and papaya salad (30LE) to start; the green chicken curry with coconut milk (25LE) and Pad Thai with shrimps (35LE) for a main. First though, we ordered Thai iced-tea (15LE) and coconut water (17LE) to quench our thirst. The tea looked like regular tea with milk, only it had ice added to it. It wasn’t the ideal choice to have before a meal since it was quite sweet but its smooth texture was pleasing. The coconut water on the other hand was outright delicious. Although it was also relatively sweet, the drink was light, refreshing and irresistible – it didn’t interfere with the meal ahead.
Headed by a Thai chef who has been there for years, the ingredients are imported which comes as no surprise considering the quality of the food. The spring rolls came in a serving of three with a sweet dipping sauce. They were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside - they finished quite quickly. The papaya salad, though requested mild, was rather spicy but it didn’t matter because it was just so good. A mix of grated papaya, tomatoes, green beans and peanuts, the salad was invigorating with all sorts of flavours and textures coming together.
Leaving us ample time to finish nibbling on the remainders of our starters, the waiter then brought the two main dishes. The Pad Thai noodles were tasty; the shrimp were well cooked and appropriately cleaned, though the noodles were slightly on the gooey side – some parts were clumped together, however this did not prevent the plate from being finished. The curry on the other hand was absolutely wonderful. Served in a small China pot with a matching spoon, the sauce was perfectly creamy without being too heavy; the balance of flavours between the coconut, curry and spices was ideal. The flawless chicken pieces were cooked to perfection, softly breaking apart with the chopsticks.
Although the kitchen was almost closing, the chef was kind enough to make us a dessert anyway. We decided on the traditional far-eastern fried bananas with ice cream (25LE). The banana was beautifully crisp on the outside and warm and mushy on the inside, while the ice cream's cool creaminess complemented it. The parts came together with a slight hint of cinnamon and like the dishes before, it was eaten up pretty quickly.
Bua Khao is not the most visually appealing place, but the service is relaxed and amicable. In addition, the quality of the food is like few other places around town and its prices are remarkably low compared to other venues. So for all these reasons, nice interior or not, Bua Khao is definitely one of the top restaurants around.
Asian cuisine seems to be on the rise in Cairo, and luckily for us, we’re huge fans of anything from-the-wok.
One of the lesser known restaurants in Maadi is Yam Yen. Maadi is no stranger to Thai cuisine, with several options to choose from should you be in the mood to eat with chopsticks, but this particular restaurant has one thing most of the others don’t; a good venue.
With a nicely landscaped garden area featuring a fountain, wooden archways and bamboo decorations, Yam Yen is a break from the overly stereotypical decorations found across all Asian restaurants—including Indian.
The interior features dim yellow lighting contrasted against dark wooden furniture, and dining areas are divided using opaque glass panels with metalwork.
We were seated indoors by a pleasant waiter and handed our menus. Featuring all the regular appetizers as well as some interesting soup options, the main courses feature red and green curries, as well as building your own stir-fried shrimp, fish, chicken, beef or vegetables main course from the wok in a sauce of your choosing.
We opted for the Tom Kha Chicken Soup (34LE) alongside Shrimp with Sweet Basil and Chili sauce (59LE) and Beef with Oyster Sauce (54LE). For the sides, we opted for a Vegetable Pad Thai (39LE), Stir-Fried Egg Noodles (39LE) and an order of Vegetable Fried Rice (19LE).
The food took a little longer than average to serve, but the soup was definitely worth the wait. Wonderfully bursting with coconut milk flavour, the Tom Kha soup, featuring pieces of tender chicken, galangal, lemon, mushroom and coriander, was the highlight of the night.
We tried different combinations of rice, noodles and pad thai with the main courses, but we found the Stir-Fried Noodles to be the weakest and most lacking in the flavour department.
While the Beef in Oyster Sauce was tasty, the portion was relatively small. The Shrimp was even smaller, consisting of exactly four pieces of shrimp in a sea of carrots and bell peppers. Both their sauces were interesting, but there just wasn’t enough of either to enjoy it for very long.
The Pad Thai was probably the tastiest, aside from the soup, featuring bean sprouts and peanuts in good non-overpowering amounts. The Fried Rice, topped with eggs and vegetables, was also quite filling and better than the average side of steamed rice.
The problem with Yam Yen isn’t the quality of food, it’s how little of it you get for so much money. The venue is clean and the service decent, but with the sides costing almost the same as the main courses, expect to either leave it hungry, or pay a hefty amount.