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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.
The thing we like most about shopping and dining zones like American Plaza is the numerous restaurants and food choices catering for those looking for a full meal or the ones looking for a quick bite on the go. We took a trip to Americana Plaza in Sheikh Zayed where among the many diners they have, we picked Fusion.
Known to be a haven for avid Asian foodies in the area, Fusion combines several Far East cuisines on its menu, including Chinese, Thai, Indian and Japanese.
Unlike the majority of Americana Plaza venues, the modern, orange and black ambiance inspired by the rich Asian cultures in Fusion restaurant, is both authentic and classy.
Tailored according to food preferences, the restaurant’s interior is divided to several sections including a Chinese corner and a sushi bar; the Teppaniyaki table is what stands out about Fusion’s setting the most, with the chef providing you a live show of your food being cooked over an iron griddle in front of you.
Being huge Chinese food fans, we took our seats into the Chinese corner, which encompasses dishes –mostly spicy ones— leaving you with limited choices with mild spices, including Chicken with Cashew Nut (45LE), Kung-Pao Cuttle Fish (45LE), Sweet and Sour Fish (45) and Crispy Chinese Duck (75LE).
We kicked things off with Golden Prawns Bags (40LE) as an appetizer which came in as crispy fried dumplings, infused with shrimps and served with a sweet chili sauce; similar in texture to the Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce.
Our appetizer had a perfect crispy texture on the exterior and a soft one on the interior; we particularly enjoyed the sweet and sour combination in our sauce; only we hoped the shrimps had more seasoning as it seemed there was a missing ingredient.
As our main dishes, we chose Vegetable Noodles (32LE) and a Sweet and Sour Shrimps Platter (88LE) served with steamed rice.
Our noodles were peppery, colorful and quite tasty; except that the featured vegetables were nothing but three types of onions (red, white and Chinese) with a single slice of both corn and mushroom.
Smothered in sweet and sour sauce, our shrimps didn’t have the promised crispy texture we’d hoped for, with an overcooked mediocre taste, which was a little disappointing.
We washed our meal down with a refreshing lemon juice (19LE) and with little room left for dessert, we opted for Fried ice cream (33LE).
Our ice cream had a delightful taste, with a gold crispy hot exterior and a cold delicious chocolate ice cream on the inside; the perfect combo of hot, fresh and cool. It was the first time we try a fried ice cream and definitely not the last.
Apart from several pitfalls including lack of shrimp seasoning in our appetiser and one of the main dishes being over- cooked, dining at Fusion was a delightful experience which we recommend to fans of Asian food. We really enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the prompt professional service which stood out on a busy Friday night.