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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Café Riche: Historically Rich, Real Cappuccino
Built in 1908, Café Riche boasts a casual atmosphere laden with nostalgia and deeply entrenched with Egyptian historical significance. Long-time patrons have said that back in its bustling beginning, the café was quite the happening place for intellectuals and artists alike; mulling over endless cups of coffee as they discussed life’s philosophies and politics. Rumour also has it that in 1952, Café Riche was where Abdel Nasser’s regime planned their coup that would soon overthrow King Farouk’s rule.
With history in tow, the café itself is a historical landmark among many in the area, located between Tahrir Square and Talaat Harb Square on Talaat Harb Street. Once you scurry off the busy street and slide through its humble entrance, you’re quickly greeted by friendly staff dressed in traditional garb. Enjoy the café’s eclectic mix of patrons engaging in different activities like reading books, holding meetings, or catching up with friends.
In the narrow main corridor, local artwork lines the walls while the charming table arrangements are composed of the ever-common tiny wooden chairs, checked red and white tablecloths, and as a plus, high quality cloth napkins. Simple, glossy flower vases grace the centre top, complete with one single, fresh flower; tying in a cosy, personal touch. While an adjacent room is just next door, its green fluorescent lighting gives off a strange feel.
They offer a full-scale menu including a variety of espressos, coffees and fresh juices. While the lemon juice (10LE) wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, the cappuccino (12LE) was satisfying with a surprisingly sufficient amount of foam. The mint tea (8LE) came as a sweet arrangement of your own kettle, providing enough water for a few cups. If mint is your thing, you should be pleased; as the mint literally filled the kettle with freshness and a powerful punch of flavour. Beers are also offered, which is rare for a café, with both Stella and Heineken available for 13LE.
Salads, including your traditional Greek, run around 7LE. Chicken platters including shish tawook and similar dishes are offered.
From its historical and convenient location to the tasty, decently priced drinks, Café Riche is definitely the place to go for a relaxing drink or two with friends, or an afternoon spent reading that book you’ve been dying to finish.
Asian cuisine has found itself a comfortable place in the hearts of many Cairenes. There’s hardly a mall or a food court without either a Chinese, Thai, Indian or even a Korean restaurant, not to mention surge of Sushi restaurants across the capital that are now almost as common as kabab and kofta.
Naturally, these Asian restaurants have managed to flourish, and some chose to expand beyond malls and food courts, as with our latest example Asian Corner.
Located in Ismailiya Square in Heliopolis behind the Salam Shopping Centre, small road signs will guide you into a quiet back road. The restaurant has a chic glass facade and its interiors are nothing like its other branches. Modern decor with light wood, ambient lighting, different seating areas with chairs and couches and bar stools make for a pleasant and warm atmosphere, far from the bustle of malls and food courts.
The menu consists of a check list where you choose your dishes and hand it back to the waiter. With options including everything from fish to duck to desserts, and a separate sushi menu, we were set.
The food started arriving about 15 minutes after we ordered. From the appetisers, we opted for Shrimp Konafa (39LE) served with garlic and coriander. From the main courses, we chose the Yaki Tori (44LE) and Spicy Beef with Potatoes (45LE) accompanied by Vegetable Noodles (20LE) and Nasi Goreng (32LE).
The beef was thinly sliced and topped with bell peppers, onions, cabbage, soy sauce and potato cubes. It was mildly spicy, but the beef was slightly undercooked.
The Yaki Tori, a chicken teriyaki dish, was delicious and executed brilliantly. The chicken breasts are thick-cut and made with honey, sesame seeds and sweet soy. Unless you specifically dislike sweet and sour, the Yaki Tori is the dish for you.
The Nasi Goreng – fried rice with shrimps, eggs and vegetables – is one of the best dishes on the menu, simply because of its huge portion and generous amounts of toppings. The vegetable noodles are decent in portion and made with bell peppers and cabbage. Our order was lightly low on salt, but that’s intended for you to adjust salt to taste.
We enjoyed our experience, and enjoyed the portions and great service, but we would like to see ready meals in the menu as many customers were confused by assembling the meal, and each entry having its own price.