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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Kook's and Bigg's: Big Burgers, Big Fun at Sun City Mall in Heliopolis
As a newly opened mall, Sun City Mall is still regarded by many as unknown or territory. A visit to Sun City may however be quite an experience. Simply put, the possibilities are endless; Kook’s and Bigg’s is a venture that could be one of the mall’s signature venues.
Finding Kook’s and Bigg’s depends primarily on where you enter the mall from. If you choose the Autostrad entrance, it’s on the same floor. You would have to go all the way to the top floor if you choose any other entrance; it’s quite confusing but neat at the same time. A walkway that leads to an outside terrace will take you to Kook’s and Bigg’s.
The interior of the place is quite impressive; everything is brown and turquoise, including the waiter’s aprons. As soon as we entered, the waiter greeted us, we sat down and he handed us a newspaper. We soon found out that was the menu! First page was reserved for articles, second and third pages were the menu, and the fourth page had a combination of fun facts and comics. The well organized menu offers salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza and moules among other things. The prices range from mid 40LE to around 100LE.
We ordered the American Beef Burger (44LE), a Billy cheese steak (42LE) and a Vanilla/Coconut shisha (30LE). The Shisha arrived first. It had been a hot morning so the air coming out of the shisha was quite hot; it tasted crisp nonetheless. The surprise kept coming, because shortly after ordering, the waiter arrived with what looked like a place mat and a pencil. We were pleasantly surprised to find an activity sheet of sorts, to keep us busy as we waited. "Did you know that apples are made up of 25% air, this is why they float” was among the “Did you know??” section, also offered were a number of classic games including a spot-the-difference game. We had to put an intense Sudoku game on hold because the food arrived in no time.
The American Beef Burger was enormous. It had a distinct peppery taste, while the beef was grilled to perfection. The combination of freshly cut tomatoes and ever so tasty cheddar cheese added to its aroma. This burger was good enough to compete with the fierce Lucille's burgers. Accompanying the burger were, wedges, also huge in size and Olives with pine nuts in them. The combination of mayonnaise and barbeque sauce in the Billy cheese steak were quite good. We got back to playing Sudoku as soon as we were done with our food.
Kook’s and Bigg’s is part of a new generation of restaurants that combine both fun and food. Even though the prices were quite expensive, the food was well deserving of the prices. Since it is an outside terrace, it can get a little stuffy in the mornings; make sure to ask the waiter to set up an electric fan for you.
Over the last year or so, new restaurants in Cairo have been introducing more and more exotic cuisines to the dining scene, be it Mongolian or even Peruvian with a Japanese twist, leaving classic favourites like Italian and Asian last week’s news. However, recently opened restaurant, Akli, has gone against the tide and specialises in not only one cuisine, but six, across everything from soups to desserts.
Located off Meccas Street in Dokki, Akli is divided into two zones; the ground floor, which has a exposed glass-wall baking room and shawerma station that wasn’t working at the time of our visit, is made for take-out orders, while the top floor is for dining-in. Besides the unfinished ceiling – which doesn’t seem like it will be finished because the AC duct has already been installed - the interior of the restaurant is on the classic side, with olive green, traditional panelled walls behind ruby buttoned couches. The setup of its tables is also pretty basic, but it actually has a cheerful view of a mini garden. If we were to compare it to another restaurant, Akli has the same spirit of everyone’s favourite, Bon Appetit.
Now let’s talk about the food. Our first flight was to Italy with Spicy Arancini Di Manzo (25LE). Starting from the spot-on creamy texture and the scrumptious golden brown crust, to the melted mozzarella cheese and minced beef, which was bursting with Italian herbs flavours, those four fried Italian rice balls were rather tasty.
Our second stop was at our beloved country with Sojouk (42LE). Lying on a bed of chopped parsley in true 90’s style, the grilled sausage was seasoned well, but it was a bit tough and dry. Overall, though, the appetiser seemed incomplete and needed some kind of a sauce or a dip with it.
Moving to the mains, we opted for the Greek Shrimp Saganaki (120LE). Made of perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, the dish was a good one, but it wasn’t Saganaki. There was too little cheese to the flavour and the tomato sauce didn’t have any Greek flavours and tasted like Egyptian vegetable stew. One the other hand, the side of lemon rice added a good zesty flavour to the dish.
We also tried Adana Kebab (89LE) from the Turkish side of the menu. Two pieces of kofta laying on Lebanese bread and served with tahini dip and basmati rice topped with nuts, the dish didn’t capture anything particularly Turkish. Although the kofta was seasoned well and the rice was light and fluffy, the dish was overpriced – it’s almost exactly the same as Shawarmaister’s Kofta Halabi Platter which costs 45LE.
We finished our meal with the French Nougat Glace (27LE) for dessert; a rectangular slice of flawless vanilla ice cream filled with mini bits of pistachio and dried fruits. It was served with sour cherry syrup with a very sticky consistency, but the dessert as a whole was light and well executed.
There’s something about what Akli is trying to do that you can’t help but appreciate – but it’s not an easy job to perfect six different cuisines in one kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant will take you back in time when you used to dine in a sporting club with the family and the food was, overall, good but there’s nothing remarkable about it.