Sign in using your account with
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.
Cairo is not short of new restaurants introducing creative dining concepts, especially within new dining zones the likes of Arkan, Galleria40 and Westown Hub. Of the many dining areas, we paid a visit to the latter, and chose the Food Circus; possibly one of the most delightful experiences we’ve had to date.
Simulating a wooden kitchen cutting board, the Food Circus menu involves some promising choices including Salmon Ravioli (75LE), Roulade Chicken in Provencal Sauce (75LE), not to mention Seafood in a Shell (85LE)—the Food Circus signature seafood dish smothered in fresh cream sauce, parmigiano cheese and cooked in a shell.
We kicked off dinner with two orders of tomato soup served with croutons(27LE), which came in hot, fresh –perhaps a little too peppery – but overall quite tasty. After sipping our soups to finish, our Welcome Dip and Bread came in a little later.
Similar to focaccia bread in thickness, our welcome bread was freshly baked and was served with delicious cream cheese and chicken liver dips. The crispness of the bread and the exotic taste in our chicken liver spread were just the perfect treat we needed before our dinner was served; only we would’ve preferred if our bread didn’t have a salt topping, making it a little too salty.
As our main dishes, we opted for Entrecote in Special Sauce—well-done— served with sautéed vegetables and fries (105LE) and Chicken Cordon Blue (80LE).
Served in a silver platter and placed over a stand with candles underneath to preserve the heat, our entrecote was the highlight of our dinner. The sauce—which maintains its secret recipe by the chef— was similar in texture and taste to the Argentinian Chimichurri sauce; herby, flavorful and just the right escort to our beef which was tender and juicy.
Stuffed with roast beef, mozzarella and crispy fried to perfection, our chicken cordon blue was nothing short of delicious.
After a very satisfying dinner, came time for drinks and dessert, of which we ordered a Vimto Cocktail (25LE) and Brownies Ice Cream Sandwich (35LE). Our cocktail was a mixture of 7Up, lemon-mint and Vimto syrup; sour, refreshing, with the Vimto’s sugary syrup dominating the taste.
Similar in texture to sponge cake and served with vanilla ice cream, our Brownie was soft, crisp and delightful.
Overall, our experience at the Food Circus was fantastic. With dozens of international dishes, the restaurant introduces many flavors catering to many tastes; no wonder they call it a circus. We specifically enjoyed our entrecote; only next time, we will try the Seafood in a Shell.