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Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
Pastaweesy: Pasta & Rice Specialists in Haram
Located off well-known Arish Street in Haram, Pastaweesy's name is self-explanatory. Having opened in December, Pastaweesy has a selection of pasta and rice served with different sauces and toppings with prices starting at 3.75LE. Dishes include pasta and rice with tomato sauce, pasta in white sauce, rice with she'reya or basmati rice with brown sauce – all come in either Lux or Super Lux sizes; the equivalents of large and extra large.
Sandwiches, either medium or large, begin at 4LE and 6LE respectively. A regular koshary will cost you 3.75LE, while a Lux is 5.50LE and a Super Lux 7.50LE. To turn your meal into a combo you have a couple of options: for 5.50LE you will get a drink and fries, add a dessert to that for 7.50LE. Or choose crispy Lebanese bread with a drink for 4.50LE, which with a dessert will cost you 6.50LE.
The desserts at Pastaweesy include rice pudding and mahalabeya (both for 3LE).
This time we didn’t visit the place but opted to order it delivery instead, which thankfully arrived quickly. The food arrived warm and well-packaged and each box was labelled with its contents making the process of finding your dish hassle free.
We had settled on seafood spaghetti in white sauce (19LE) and basmati rice with meat strips (13LE). We also decided to try the Alexandrian liver sandwich (7.50LE) and an order of rice pudding.
The white sauce on the pasta tasted good but the pasta itself was mushy. The seafood however, made up of shrimps and calamari, was well-cooked and fared better than the rest of the dish. The basmati rice was equally overcooked but the meat was tasty. The liver sandwich was average, tasting unremarkable. The rice pudding came in a large portion and was at the right level of sweetness but the rice used was little, and it made the whole thing a bit watery.
The idea behind this venture is a novel one, but their Super Lux size isn't as super as you'd think and is really only just enough for one adult diner. But if you’re stuck in the middle of traffic on either Haram Street or Faisal Street and feel like a wholesome meal at a reasonable price; Pastaweesy ticks both of those boxes.
Unlike so many of the international hotels in Cairo, the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah bucks the trend of its competitors’ inability to sustain quality and consistency in their food and beverage outlets. The hotel has it all, offering Cairenes options for nightlife in the form of Buddha Bar, one of the best swimming pool day-use options in the city, the extravegant So Spa, and even a swanky salon. These facilities, however, are just a prelude to the delights that await you at the hotel’s restaurants – namely, El Kebabgy.
Located right along the banks of the Nile, seating is predominantly assembled as an outdoor space, giving diners a pretty spectacular, if windy, view. The restaurant is often busy, so making reservations is highly recommended, lest you be left waiting beside the clay bread ovens and be teased by the wholesome aroma.
There’s nothing too complicated about dining at El Kebabgy; though the menu is pretty ample, you absolutely cannot visit this place and not go for the mixed grill (125LE). But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
No Oriental meal is complete without a spread of cold mezza (40LE) and El Kebabgy goes all out with hommos, tehina, baba ghanough, taboula, fattoush and spiced cheese, all with a bottomless basket of freshly made balady bread. Dipping at the fresh dishes makes for a great way to get the old enzymes going, though unfortunately, tomeya is not included and comes as a separate dish for 20LE. It is, however, in no uncertain terms, well worth the extra money; it’s the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s grilled meats.
Said grilled meats come sizzling on rather kitsch charcoal grills, where diners can continue the cooking process as they please. Chicken, kofta, kabab and lamb chops come as part of this magnificent package, and all are succulent, tender and full of flavour – just be weary of leaving it on the grill for too long. Outside of the mixed grill, the grilled veal liver (65LE) is an absolute must. If you can get the grilling right, you’re in for a treat; it comes in very generous portions and you’ll feel like you’re digging into a big meaty steak.
The only downside to our last visit was the service. Overwhelmed, slow and generally hateful of their lives, the staff members have a way of making you feel like you’ve offended them in some way; in a restaurant that feeds all the senses, it really does make a difference to the overall dining experience.
Thankfully, however, these shortcomings are not severe enough to diminish the crux of an evening of wining and dining at El Kebabgy; the food.