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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?
Life in the ever-busy capital definitely, at times, forces all of us to live on the fast lane without enough time to spare on making an event out of every meal. Thus, take away venues and delivery services can often swoop in and save the day, allowing us to munch away our hunger whilst getting things done.
Located on Brazil St, one of Zamalek’s most iconic boulevards, Baraka is hard to miss with its huge banner and catchy orange and maroon colour scheme. The venue offers no seating areas, with its concept based on paying, awaiting your order and picking it up to eat elsewhere.
Baraka’s menu is divided into two main sections—beef sandwiches, including Steak with Cheese (22/26LE), Beef Fajita (18/22LE) and Kofta Balady (14/18LE) as well as chicken sandwiches, including Chicken Tawook (16/20LE), Chicken Mozzarella (18/22LE) and Chicken Liver (12/15LE), with each offered in either medium or large sizes. In order to make a combo out of your sandwichyou add 9 LE to the sandwich’s price.
Sticking to the basics, we opted for a couple of Chicken Shawerma sandwiches (18LE/each) and a couple of Beef Shawerma sandwiches (18LE/each), requesting them all to be wrapped in Syrian bread. Once we paid, we handed our order to the friendly chef and received our steaming sandwiches a mere ten minutes later.
Well-wrapped, our sandwiches tasted fresh and were out-of-the-oven hot, with the well-toasted Syrian bread having that satisfying crunch to it. Both the chicken and beef shawerma sandwiches were, despite their size leaning more towards medium than large, chockfull of fillings that included diced tomatoes and pickles, alongside the shawerma bits. They both, however, lacked a sufficient amount of sauces or dips, with the chicken shawerma needing a bit more Tomiya and the beef shawerma needing a bit more Tahini.
To wrap up, pun intended, we found Baraka to be quite perfect for grabbing a non-fussy, on-the-go bite. The sandwiches were both delicious, but if you’re absolutely starving, go for two not one, as a single sandwich is not large enough to satisfy your hunger.