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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.
The great thing about Lebanese cuisine is that it hits the spot. It strikes a fine balance of meats and carbs versus very tasty salads and appetisers, all se bursting with aromatic seasoning. With that in mind, we decided to stop by Olives in Downtown Katameya Mall for a quick lunch.
Having previously visited Olives way back when Downtown Katameya Mall was but centre of empty shop spaces, New Cairo as an area has grown tenfold in terms of popularity and, by extension, traffic. We wanted to see how the restaurant would handle itself with the added pressure, and if it could have possibly improved in that time as well.
The small indoor area is a little uninviting, so we decided to sit outside in the terrace. The maroon colour scheme, accented with orange wood coloured chairs, glass tables and the few plants lying around does well to break the grey monotony that the mall seems to have embraced.
A waiter greeted us when we approached the restaurant and showed us to our seat. He placed two menus on the table and then retreated giving us space to browse. The menu consists of all the usual Lebanese classics, from cold and warm mezzas and salads to the manakeesh and grill items. It also features some international items like pizzas and burgers, but we weren’t interested in those.
We opted for some Chicken Liver (25.85LE) from the appetisers, Boneless Chicken - Mesahab - (48.5LE) and a Mix Grill (64.85LE) from the main courses with sides of French fries and sautéed vegetables.
The Chicken Liver appetiser was served quite promptly. With a tasty and tangy sauce, were assuming contains molasses, the Liver was a definite success and had us eagerly awaiting the main courses, which were served very shortly afterwards.
The Mesahab dish was considerably large. The chicken was marinated and cooked well, and managed to retain a lot of juiciness. Additionally, the French fries were at a perfect crisp, but the sautéed vegetables were regrettably bland.
The Mix Grill, similarly, was decent in portion. Containing kofta, kebab and shish tawook, we were particularly fond of the kofta which was very flavourful. The kebab, while also marinated well, was a little overcooked and felt more chewy than needed. The shish tawook didn’t stand out.
With an all around good experience, we figured we’d try their dessert menu and went for an Oriental classic: Konafa with Cheese (23.85LE). While the layer of cheese and syrup was tasty but a little on the sweet side, the konafa was drenched and failed to maintain a decent crisp, ruining the texture ratio of the dish.
We enjoyed our experience at Olives, but be aware when sitting outside in a mall that it gets pretty loud. Besides that, it serves as a great spot to have a decently priced filling breakfast, lunch or dinner.