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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Genghis Khan: Affordable Mongolian Cuisine in Maadi
You won't often come across a restaurant that serves Mongolian cuisine in Cairo. Having once seen a travel program about Mongolian cuisine and finding out they eat marmots, we were seriously hoping that this wasn’t the case at Genghis Khan in Maadi. The restaurant is located on Road 233, which has a high density of Asian restaurants and pet shops - not that we're implying anything here.
The entire front of the restaurant is made of glass, providing lots of daylight and a view of the street. There are just four tables laid out that seat a maximum of five people. On the walls we saw some interesting yet peculiar art pieces that are best described as Asian soft porn; naked ladies in titillating poses.
The menu is written in English and Mongolian; immediate relief followed when we didn’t find marmot on the menu. We tried to distinguish which dishes were specifically Mongolian but found it difficult since most dishes on the menu were just well-known Chinese ones.
As soon as you order you receive a kettle of green tea. Genghis Khan also offers soft drinks and beer; Heineken, Stella and Sakkara available ranging between 10LE and 20LE. While nibbling on fried peanuts with salt (15LE) we browsed through the menu and eventually opted for the sweet and sour chicken (35LE), beef with potato (35LE), tofu with soy sauce (25LE), rice with eggs (10LE) and noodles with shrimp (18LE).
The food arrived at our table within approximately five minutes and all of the plates were filled to the max; especially the dishes with rice and noodles – which you can easily share with two or three people. The tofu with soy sauce was a bit disappointing unfortunately; the taste of the soy sauce was lacking and the consistency of the tofu was spongy.
The beef with potato on the other hand fared better. The baked potato pieces were deliciously flavoured and it took us about three minutes to devour all of them. The beef was very salty but nevertheless tasty; combined with the potatoes, it’s enough to be a meal on its own.
The sweet and sour chicken plate was also huge. The succulent chicken pieces were drenched in a sauce that was a perfect balance between sweet and sour. The rice with eggs was good but lacked taste; though the stickiness of it made it perfect to combine with the sauces. The noodles on the other hand were slightly undercooked and tasteless.
Genghis Khan’s strongest point seems to be their potato and beef dishes. The portions come huge and are very affordable; we paid 160LE for five plates and some beverages. However, we were still left wondering what Mongolian cuisine truly is.
Recently opened, Lettuceat in Zamalek is already proving itself to be a real contender in the realm of healthy eating in Cairo. Banishing the notions of bland salads, Lettuceat aims to combine succulent meats to fresh greens and delectable vinaigrettes, creating masterpiece meals from fresh ingredients.
The small restaurant’s sparkling glass front shows off the white, sterile interior while a single dining table invites patrons to eat in –although take-away or delivery may be the preferred option.
An open-fronted refrigerator shows off Lettuceat’s own brand of healthy spreads, ready-mixed vinaigrettes (15LE-22LE) and fresh, sweetened juices. Perfect as either dips or sandwich spreads, the potted flavours include tomato bruscetta (20LE), tuna paste (30LE), foie de volaille – or chicken liver pate (35LE) - baba ghanouj (20LE) and more. A range of unusual fresh loaves of bread are also available; from standard white French baguettes to multigrain loaves (8LE-11LE) as well as different types of olive bread (3.5LE-13LE).
Using fresh ingredients, the juices include strawberry, mango, guava and orange (8LE-8.5LE). We went for one bottle of strawberry and one guava juice, both of which were delicious, perfectly sweetened and sporting real fruit pieces without the drink being too thick.
The menu is a colourful representation of their exotic salad dishes. As well as an ‘authentic’ Greek Salad and both chicken and shrimp variations of the Caesar salad (46LE-54LE) there are also some more unusual concoctions, such as the smoked duck treat (57LE) and a 'rich tuna' Nicoise (52LE). They even offer a pasta salad –Italy's Finest (38LE).
After much deliberation, we opted for one Delish Tuscan (49LE) – a salad of watercress, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan and cashews, topped with balsamic dressing. We also chose a tomato, cucumber and lettuce based Mexican Delight (49LE); a tropical-sounding mixture of marinated grilled chicken, carrot, onion, sweet corn, red kidney beans, cheddar cheese and red peppers with a zesty ‘Mehico’ dressing.
Expecting a small side-dish of sorts, we were pleasantly surprised at the generously sized salads we were presented with moments later. Each one was presented with a personal sized loaf of flavourful, wholemeal bread which were crispy and covered with seeds on the outside but brilliantly soft on the inside. The Delish Tuscan was served with a side of crispy croutons whilst the Mexican Delight came with a small handful of crunchy tortilla chips.
As Lettuceat’s slogan suggests; both our salads were fresh and ‘delish’. The interesting choice of ingredients complimented one another perfectly and presented a palette of different flavours whilst the vinaigrettes remained delicious but subtle, so as not to overpower the salads themselves. The balsamico dressing was a perfect blend of oil and vinegar, seasoned with a small amount of herbs and although we couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was in the ‘Zesty Mehico’ dressing, it was surprisingly sweet and tangy, just as it’s name inferred. The sliced chicken chunks in the Mexican salad were generous, well-sized, moist and excellently cooked; delicately flavoured by the tikka-style marinade.
Not wanting to ruin our healthy meal, we had difficulty not ordering one of their delicious-looking pavlovas (21LE) or smooth granola desire (25LE) complete with fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola. If their salads were anything to go by, we’d dare to suggest that either of these desserts would be equally as - if not more - scrumptious.
The beef with potato will not disappoint.
The hygiene is a bit questionable.
You can bring your own wine!