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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Fattoush: Affordable Lebanese Fast Food in Citystars
After a long day of shopping at mammoth shopping mall Citystars, one always yearns for a good meal to refuel. So we decided to try some Lebanese food to get us going.
Located on the fourth floor, Fattoush serves up authentic Lebanese food and the menu features a lot of enticing options. Lebanese salads like fattoush and taboula are available; other options include garlic dip, tehina, coleslaw and pickles. The menu is only available in Arabic, so it would make it difficult for non-native speakers to make a selection.
To us, ordering Lebanese food always entails ordering our all-time favourite mana'eesh. However, we were majorly disappointed when we were told it wasn't available.
After much thought, we ordered a small plate of stuffed vine leaves (12LE) and cheese sambousak (9 LE) to begin. The Lebanese way of preparing vine leaves differs slightly from the Egyptian one; Egyptians normally have this dish as a main course and is served hot, whereas the Lebanese version is served chilled, as an appetizer, with lemon and olive oil.
We liked the stuffed vine leaves, but we still prefer our good old Egyptian way, and we were quite annoyed at how drenched it was in olive oil.
The sambousak could easily pass as the best we’ve ever had. Four semi-circles were served with small fried pieces of shami bread; dipping the sambousak in the garlic dip made for an amazing combination. However, we were mildly disappointed at how greasy they were. Other sambousak fillings include the much-lighter spinach or minced meat.
Fattoush also offers Lebanese grilled meals. A kilo of shish kabab will set you back 179LE; while kofta, grilled chicken and shish tawouk are also available. All main courses are served with a side of rice and salad.
We also ordered the chicken fajita sandwich (18LE); the sandwiches are normally prepared using French bread, but for an extra 2.50LE, you can either have the Saj bread or Lebanese bread.
The fajita sandwich was too greasy for our liking; the thin slices of chicken were cooked with black olives, green pepper and mayonnaise and while we liked the flavour, we disliked how it dripped with oil. And although it was supposed to be firmly wrapped, the oil still found a way onto our clothes.
In short, if you happen to be emptying your pockets in Citystars' shops, but have a growling stomach, Fattoush makes for an affordable Lebanese option. Now, you probably won't be blown away by the cuisine, but it will satisfy your Lebanese craving until something better comes along.
Lebanese restaurants in Cairo are common, to say the least, but few truly elevate the cuisine. Located on El Thawra Street in Heliopolis, Tanoura struck us as being both aesthetically interesting and colourful, drawing us in with bright oranges, Mediterranean yellows and reds. The ground floor is only partially covered, creating an outside-in feel, complete with flower beds and a central palm tree. Continuing its cheerful theme indoors, the restaurant spreads over two more floors.
Named after a Lebanese dance, it seemed only appropriate that Oriental music served as the backdrop to our dining experience, whilst antique, reclaimed shisha pipes are used as light fixtures and are incorporated into the interesting screen designs.
We were promptly shown to our seats before the waiter discreetly told us that the minimum charge is 75LE; a minimum easy to surpass with their wide selection of tempting Lebanese dishes. All the typical hot and cold appetisers are available, along with salads, arayes, mana'eesh, fattah and grills. If Lebanese doesn’t take your fancy, there’s also a selection of soups and pastas to choose from.
Tanoura also offer a good variation of drinks; we ordered a lemon juice (18LE) and a watermelon smoothie (25LE), both which arrived swiftly. The lemon juice was a refreshing bitter-sweet concoction whilst the watermelon – now in season – was a deliciously fresh, icy slushy.
We requested one chicken fattah (45LE), an onion soup (20LE), hommos (20LE) and cheese sambousak (24LE). We didn’t have to wait long, and in true Lebanese style, everything was served together. A basket of cold, soft baladi bread was delivered as an accompaniment to the creamy, well-seasoned hommos. The cheese sambousak resembled four, generously sized spring rolls, deep fried to a golden brown. Unfortunately – due to the bed of lettuce they were presented on – the underside turned soggy fairly quickly. The onion soup was rich and flavourful, complete with a considerable amount of onion pieces swimming in it. Of all the dishes, however, our chicken fattah exceeded expectations; it was a creamy mixture of large, quality chicken chunks amongst crispy bread and soft white rice. The portion was so large that we struggled to finish it along with our starters.
Rather than choosing one of their Oriental desserts, we chose to wash our meal down with an apple shisha (18LE) which was as expected; fruity, flavourful and smooth.
The colourful décor, chilled-out atmosphere and contemporary setting of Tanoura modernises traditional Lebanese recipes, and is proving to be a popular place for both young and more mature clientele.