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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.
From serving pizza cake, one kilogram of burger —even chocolate burger— to the 'all you can eats' that invaded the city, there’s nothing restauranters in Cairo won’t do to grab the attention and compete on the ever-exciting restaurant scene.
Perhaps Lebanese restaurant, Hayda first grabbed the attention last year not with its food, but rather with its quirky ‘chair’, where the Levant specialist sent out customised Hayda chairs as an invitation to the restaurant’s opening.
Located at Nile Street right behind Four Seasons Hotel, Hayda is comprised of large indoor and outdoor areas. The outdoor area boasts an oriental chilling ambiance with black Islamic patterns on the walls, colourful pink, purple, and turquoise chairs and a great Nile View, while the indoor area involves a cozier oriental atmosphere overlooking the Nile, with pink, blue and red chandeliers, white Islamic patterns on the floor and on the columns, not to mention an elevated area adorned with the blue and white arches, colourful cushions, images of vintage Lebanese currencies and posters of Lebanese artists including Sabah and Fayrouz.
As soon as we were seated, the waiter came to tell us Hayda’s 100LE minimum charge –which we passed with just the mains. We started our meal with Arayess Hayda –essentially grilled Shami bread stuffed with minced beef or chicken (59LE) and Hummus Shawerma (35LE) as starters, and as our mains, we opted for Chicken Mesahaba – boneless grilled chicken (75LE) and Kebbeh Labanyah (85LE).
Served with a basket of puffy Lebanese bread, two of our favourite Lebanese creations –shawerma and hummus— are merged together in this dish. Garnished with some cashews, the hummus itself was super smooth and creamy as it should, while the beef shawerma on top had a great zesty flavour to it, only it was a little too dry.
Served in triangular flaky shami bread, Arayess were bursting with flavours from the spices, while the beef and chicken were perfectly cooked and came with pickles and fries which were slightly oily. The portion itself was huge which makes it a great shareable appetiser.
Moving to the mains, the chicken mesahaba was cooked to perfection, with crispy and flavourful skin, only the chicken itself didn’t have a lot of flavours while the vegetables serving was rather boiled and lacked flavour and seasoning.
Served with a plate of cold but incredibly fluffy rice topped with little to no nuts, the kebbeh labanyah is essentially fried kobeba topped with yogurt sauce and sautéed minced garlic and herbs; only in our case, it was more of yogurt soup with four pieces of kobeba. Though the flavours were great, the dish itself was not good value for money.
We finished our meal with Kunafa Nabulsya with Cheese (45LE). Though some parts of the cheese mixture were a little too salty, the cheese was as stretchy as we’d imagined, while the kunafa itself had an orangy colour with a great crispy crunch and a spot-on amount of syrup on top.
Our experience at Hayda was rather a hit and miss one. The service was slow and some of the dishes were a little too steep. But as far as food, some of the items showed a lot of potential and the atmosphere is one of the best Nile side ones we’ve seen to date.