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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?
While everyone enjoys sitting down to large scrumptious meal, the end of the month and the countdown to pay-day don't always allow it. In Maadi, there’s a shortage of affordable, medium-tier restaurants, and with the rise in prices that Egypt is experiencing, that is the exact kind of restaurant is the area needs.
Located on the busy Road 306 just off El Nasr St., B Fresco - a modest little restaurant with wood plank floors and orange walls with counters accompanied by bar stools at either side - goes some way to filling that void.
B Fresco serves a variety of sandwiches ranging between meat, chicken and seafood, in addition to a few meals with rice and salads as wells as a selection of appetisers.
Upon inspecting the menu behind the counter, we opted for an interesting looking Wrap Star Sandwich (15LE), a Roast Beef sandwich (19LE), 3-piece portion of Chicken Strips (10LE) and Cheese Fries (7LE).
While waiting, you can see the staff manoeuvring through the kitchen to prepare your food. Served only about 15-20 minutes later, our food certainly looked impressive.
The Wrap Star contains fried chicken strips topped with cheese, lettuce and garlic mayo, which is all then wrapped with tortilla bread into a pentagon shape. The chicken was crisp and cooked well, and the irregular shape was actually easy to eat and didn’t cause a mess.
The Roast Beef sandwich looked equally as impressive, but the beef itself was bland and the sandwich toppings - which included lettuce, pickles and a 'special sauce' - couldn’t salvage it.
The Chicken Strips, the same kind used in the Wrap Star, actually got a better chance to shine when you eat them on their own. The chicken itself is quite tasty and the breading has a decent crunch.
The Cheese Fries were a horrible disappointment; the soggy fries were covered in a mixture of cheddar and white cheese which lumped together and created something that looked like eggs. No, thank you.
All in all, while some of its items fare much better than others, the prices at B Fresco negate at least some of the disappointment and provides a cheap option amongst the usual suspects of fast-food in Cairo.