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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
The Yemen Restaurant: Waning Taste of Sana'a in Dokki
Located on a sleepy street in Dokki, the aptly named Yemen Restaurant has been a cult favourite on Cairo’s casual-dining scene for quite some time. Having closed down and renovated, we decided to check out if said cult following is still warranted. Now looking like a large cafeteria, the shiny tiled floor, metal seating and straight-to-the-point name is by no means a sign of laziness, but more a sign of economy – a theme that runs deep throughout the whole dining experience.
Small bowls of soup were rushed to the table almost as soon as we’d sat down; bowls that would traditionally be drank out of. Fortunately, the restaurant provides you with spoons. The meat stock soup, though pleasantly unassuming in taste, suffered the occasional slither of fat; a defect that is not for the weak stomached.
Ready to dig into something of more substance, we were informed that only a handful of the dishes on the menu were still available. Legend had warned us that we’d need to arrive early to be privy to all the dishes, but an 8PM dinner isn’t late by any stretch of the imagination in a city like Cairo.
We received a veritable smorgasbord of everything that was still available. First to arrive at the table were two large portions of Yemeni bread (3LE per one piece). Served hot, the bread isn’t too dissimilar to feteer or naan bread but was in no way greasy and held together pretty nicely.
Plates of liver (15LE), chopped meat (10LE), beans with eggs (6LE), vegetables (5LE) and salta (10LE) were served up as promptly as the soup was. Both the liver and chopped meat were cooked and/or served with the same mix of sliced vegetables, with the meat faring better than the liver, which was tasteless in comparison to Egyptian-made liver dishes. The meat was a little dry, but the accompanying fried peppers, carrots and other unidentifiable vegetables provided a much needed tenderness to the dish. The salta – also a mix of meat and vegetables – only differed in that it was drenched in a brown, meat stock sauce. It tasted no different.
Said vegetables also make up the mixed vegetables dish, with the only addition being slices of soggy potato. Just for the fact that they didn’t contain the same mix of vegetables as the other dishes, the beans with eggs stood out as the highlight. Served sizzling hot in a generous portion, the dish uses the beans as a mix of foul and a bean casserole. Although basically a mush of beans, tomato and boiled egg, the hearty dish was full of flavour and made for a great impromptu sandwich with the bread.
Though the staff members at the restaurant are quick as bunnies, they have no clue what the dishes are and are only able to repeat the ingredients of a dish when asked about them. The fact that there was only one variable ingredient between three of the dishes left us feeling a little short changed. Apart from the bread, we left the restaurant none the wiser to what Yemeni cuisine actually is.
Boasting some of the biggest and best restaurants in the city – Tamara, Mori Sushi, Qahwa to name a few – the Waterway's cluster of restaurant and cafes, 'W', is the newest attraction to Cairo’s dining scene in and makes a great choice for anyone who’s wondering where to eat.
With plenty to choose from, we finally decided to visit Crave and give its newly launched menu a try.
Divided into two areas, Crave has a simple sporting club-like outdoor area perfect for a morning coffee or brunch with friends and a cosier indoor area with a fantastic choice of grey and blue furniture, plants hanging from the ceiling and a delightful sight of the waiters preparing cocktails behind the bar which gave the place an overall fun vibe.
With many new items to the menu, we decided to order Vimtojito (29LE) and Strawberry Sensation (30LE) as our drinks while taking our time to check the new items.
Topped with Vimto flavoured cotton candy, the Vimtojito grabbed everyone’s attention with its cute presentation. We fell in love with the sweet and sour flavours from the mojito syrup, lemon, the 7up soda with the Vimto syrup and the fresh mint.
Fresh strawberry puree mixed with cranberry juice, the strawberry sensation was a very interesting choice and we loved the spicy kick from the addition of black pepper and hot sauce.
It was really hard to stop ourselves from ordering our good old Shrimp Kunafa (55LE), but since we’re here for all that is new, we opted for the Grilled Shrimp Guacamole salad (60LE).
Topped with perfectly marinated shrimp skewers bursting with flavours, the salad was well-balanced flavour wise, from the fresh mixed greens and the sweetness of the corn and cherry tomatoes, to the tropical flavour of the pineapple and the citrusy dressing which complimented the shrimp so well. Even though we could barely feel the presence of the guacamole, we really enjoyed the salad and it was an absolutely delicious start for our meal
With so many new tempting items, including Herb and Fereek Chicken (70LE) and Cherry Soya Tuna (99LE), we decided keep it simple and go with Penne Fried Chicken (53LE) and Steak and Mushroom Pasta (55LE) as our mains.
Starting with the penne fried chicken, the pasta was cooked well while the tomato basil sauce was so fresh, only it needed more seasoning and perhaps a kick of shredded parmesan on top too.
Stuffed with cheese and mushrooms, the breaded fried chicken was tender and rich from the cheese, while the mushroom added an earthy flavour and absorbed the deliciousness of the cheese. The crust had exquisite flavours but sadly it didn’t stick to the chicken.
A combination of fettuccine pasta cooked well and tossed in creamy balsamic sauce, the mushroom and steak pasta introduced us to our new favourite couple; the exquisite balsamic and fresh cream duo which formed a creamy sweet and sour masterpiece. Although the seared steak was overcooked, it nonetheless complemented the whole dish with the roasted mushrooms.
With three new desserts on the menu including Jar Cake Duo and Chocolate Chip Lava Cake – we decided to give the Coffee Toffee Crumble (39LE) a try.
A crumbly Lotos biscuit cake topped with a good quality scoop of vanilla ice cream, coated with a toffee-like croquant shell which added an exquisite crunch and a side of homemade coffee syrup in shot glass to pour over the dessert; let’s just say that this heavenly dessert is every coffee addict’s dream come true.
Although we would’ve liked to see the same creativity we saw in the dessert’s section with the appetisers and mains, the menu’s new additions, the great service, the ambiance and Waterway’s spacious new branch will not disappoint you and makes Crave still stands as one of our absolute favourite restaurants when it comes to fine dining in Cairo.