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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Top Dawgs: The Hottest Dogs are in Zamalek
Having tempted us for weeks on Facebook and Twitter with pictures of hot dogs, quizzes that test our hot dog knowledge and just endlessly toying with our appetites; the long awaited, much anticipated Top Dawgs has finally opened its doors to the public.
Located in the high traffic area of Ibn Nabih Street in Zamalek, in between Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Crumbs, Top Dawgs is the first gourmet hot dog spot in Cairo. A considerably small venue, the shop is easy to find with its glowing red sign and cool grey interior. Made up of nothing more than an ordering counter and some stand-while-you-eat surfaces, Top Dawgs is probably the most exciting thing this city has seen in a while.
Apart from being called ‘dawgs’, the sausages are also unique in their recipe. Created by the Top Dawgs team, the sausages were specially designed for this venture and would not be found for sale anywhere else. Their bread is custom made at Il Mulino bakery, it is 100% organic and preservative free; it is so fresh that it can only be used on the day it is made.
The variety of hot dog choices is enticing and mouth-watering. Not the ones to be unoriginal, choices include things like the Merquez Dawg, which is lamb sausage with harissa, Dijon mustard and caramalised onions (28LE); and the Bratwurst Dawg, which is veal sausage with sauerkraut and French’s yellow mustard. Other varieties include a NYC Dawg, Chicago Dawg and BBQ Bacon Dawg. You are also given the option between a baguette and soft bread for your sandwich.
We finally settled on trying the Original Top Dawg (23LE) with added melted cheddar cheese (2.50LE), the Chilli Cheese Dawg (28LE) and the Blue Cheese Dawg (29LE); all large in size. Served in a basket, the hot dogs are as visually appealing as their taste turned out to be.
The original hot dog comes with ketchup, mustard, sweet relish and onions; the added cheese was definitely a plus. Perfectly simple and greatly delicious, the ingredients together were an absolute delight. The chilli dog was equally yummy; the rich chilli flavour mixed with a hint of jalapeno spice and covered in melted cheese – just be sure to ask your waiter to melt your cheese well. The blue cheese hot dog seemed like an alternative approach to the classic sausage in a bun but proved to be a very good combination. Kept basic with just the cheese and fresh shredded lettuce, it is recommended to have it in a baguette; it makes a good, and lighter, lunch option.
The French fries we got on the side were just as enjoyable. Kept with some of their peel on, they were crunchy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside – these were some of the best fries we’ve had in the city and although we were full, they were diligently eaten all up.
If you prefer to design your own ‘dawg’ the menu offers a selection of toppings. The basic ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce are added free, but as you move into the more serious toppings it starts to cost you. The first level has things such as sour cream, tobasco, Mexican hot peppers and sauerkraut for 2.5LE a topping; the next level is for 4.5LE a topping and has crispy beef bacon, horseradish and blue cheese as choices.
The truth is there is nothing we didn’t like about Top Dawgs; the sausages are flavoursome, the bread is organic, the toppings are generous and creative, and the fries are as the perfect French fry should be. Could we possibly ask for more?
Every now and then, you’re body demands the strangest of cravings. It wants fast food, it wants new fast food that’s different to all the fast food that you’ve been having, and it wants it right now. This sensation may hit you at home or at the office, but what’s certain is all the effort you’re willing to exert is eating the food.
Enter Lujo’s Fresh Junk; a joint in Zamalek that pulls together all the kinds of fast food onto one menu, and presenting them in a new way.
The restaurant is rather small; the indoor area consists only of a counter over which you place your order. There are a few bar stools, but we don’t recommend occupying them since you’d be sitting face to face with the cashier - awkward.
The outside area has a simple wooden table with two chairs. We don’t recommend sitting here either as you’ll be sharing your food with the cats over the ambiance of the next door workshop’s loud music.
After a quick glance through the menu we opted for the Wasabi Shrimp Tempura Wrap (38LE) and a Mushroom Truffle Pizza (44LE). Additionally, we opted for Zucchini Fries (10LE) with Mayo Pesto Dip (6LE).
Our food was served, not so shortly after, on wooden slabs that resemble chopping boards, while the Zucchini Fries were served in a small metal bucket.
The Wasabi Shrimp Tempura wrap consisted of fried shrimp tempura topped with pickled sesame cucumbers, shallots and Wasabi tartar sauce on a bed of mixed greens. The wasabi was unfortunately missing from the mix, but that was the only let down in an otherwise great sandwich. The flavours were in perfect harmony and the shrimp remained crispy despite the toppings.
Similarly, the Mushroom Truffle pizza was delicious. The truffle oil and fresh mushrooms worked well with the arugula and balsamic vinegar. The pizza had a nice, thin consistency and a good ratio of toppings. We did, however, find the mushrooms a little scarce.
The Zucchini Fries had a nice crispy golden layer coating i, and a good consistency all around, which isn’t easy since zucchini cooks very fast. We felt like we ordered the wrong dip however, since Pesto Mayo was a little too heavy.
Finally, we opted for a Peanut Butter Cookie (9LE), which, unfortunately, let down what was an otherwise enjoyable meal; it was mall, too moist and barely tastes like peanut butter at all.
Lujo’s is perfect for takeaway and ordering from home, especially when with a group. While the prices are higher than your average fast food, the gourmet touches elevate the menu.