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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.
You know those days when you just don’t feel like leaving the house? You know, when all you want to do is binge-watch while binge-eating? Well yours truly had one of those days recently, but instead of going for the usual fast-food options, we looked for somewhere with a little something extra – that’s when we decided to revisit Gringo’s Burrito.
Though not a dine-in restaurant, of course, Gringo’s Burrito has two deliver-only branches in Maadi and Mohandiseen, with plenty to choose from— from tacos, chips and dips to quesadillas and burrito bowls. Unfortunately, we received the order 30 minutes after the already indicated 60 minute delivery time –fast food? Not so much.
Nevertheless, we started our meal on a positive note with some Cheese and Black Beans Nacho (24LE); essentially crispy corn chips topped with decent amount of cheese, pico de gallo, and black beans – you have to option flour tortilla chips instead.
Flavour wise, the cheese sauce was delicious and the touch of coriander in the pico de gallo was on-point, but sadly, the crispy corn chips were very soggy due to the packing while the presentation wasn’t appealing at all.
We couldn’t order Gringo’s without trying their main specialty, the burritos, so we picked their Grilled Steak Nacho Burrito (58LE), which brought together pieces of grilled steak, crumbled corn chips, shredded cheese, black beans, cilantro-lime rice, pico de gallo, sour cream and a ‘special sauce’ wrapped in flour tortilla.
The steak itself was perfectly cooked and the rice had a perfect texture, but cilantro-lime flavours were undetectable and the corn chips and cheese were scarce, while the special sauce was lost against the overpowering sour cream. Overall, it was a good burrito, but we expected more from the flavours.
What’s a Mexican fiesta without Chili Con Carne tacos? Three crispy corn tortilla shells filled with chilli con carne, pico de gallo and melted cheese (45LE); the perfectly seasoned chilli con carne was bursting with Mexican spices.
Unfortunately, adding a layer of chilli con carne at the bottom made the taco shells soggy and broke it in no time – adding some melted cheese first or a bed of lettuce would’ve probably saved the day.
The last savoury item we tried was the Tinga Shredded Chicken Enchilada (55LE). Served with fluffy Mexican rice mixed with peas and a bold tomato flavour, the chicken enchilada turned out to be the Machaca Beef enchilada. Yes, we received a wrong order and it was quite dry and not as saucy or cheesy as enchiladas are supposed to be, despite the beef faving great flavours.
Rounding off the rather hit-and-miss experience, the Nutella Empanada (22LE) saved the day. The fried dough with crispy exterior and soft interior was very similar to donuts, was filled with a generous amount of Nutella and was quite delicious and simple.
As a Mexican cuisine specialist Gringo’s has always split opinion since it opened and our experience this time round brought up similar criticisms from previous experiences; the menu promises much in terms of bold flavours, but the packaging and the execution were quite sloppy and didn’t do the dishes justice – especially the tacos and nachos. Plus, nobody likes to receive their food an hour and half late.