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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.
There’s an Italian restaurant in Maadi that we’ve been fans of for quite some time. In our last review, Il Mulino boasted a breezy, comfortable outdoor area, combined with authentic Italian dishes that valiantly tries to stay clear of localisation.
So when we heard it opened up an express sushi centre by the name of Mikado on its premises, frankly, we were a little alarmed.
The concept of Mikado is very much an easy and unfussy express approach to sushi; you needn’t bother with a menu or even be that aware of the many different types of the Japanese delicacy. Mikado make ready packaged boxes of 10, 20, and 40 pieces at affordable prices. You can specify if you want them roll based or Nigiri, but you don’t have much control besides that.
Curious to see what the selection would be like, as well as just how affordable they are, we opted for an All Rolls 40 Piece (169LE) platter; the 10 piece goes for 59LE and the 20 pieces for 99LE.
The large plastic wrapped platter comes with two soy sauce and two teriyaki sauce dips, as well as the traditional ginger and wasabi. As for the rolls themselves, there were 12 rolls of crab, salmon and shrimp Hosomaki collectively, as well as 28 of their special Uramaki rolls broken down into four Philly Rolls, four Mikado Rolls, four Caterpillar Rolls, four Rainbow Rolls, four California Rolls, four Tamago Rolls and four Green Rolls.
The special Uramaki rolls featured some of the more creative options like the Tamago — a Japaense omelette roll — and the Mikado Roll featuring salmon, mushrooms, cream cheese and green caviar.
Unfortunately, while the sushi was certainly cheaper than practically any other restaurant in Cairo, the quality is somewhat reflected by that. Everything tasted a little stale, and nothing is particularly bursting with flavour - except for possibly the teriyaki sauce.
Sushi, as mentioned before, is a delicacy and the express approach employed by Mikado somewhat diminishes and corrupts the very core of what is an already problematic and difficult food in Cairo.
All in all, there are much better, if more expensive, sushi option around the capital and it isn’t the kind of food too skimp on when it comes to cost. Unless you happen to trip and fall into Mikado, Il Mulino’s very decent Italian food is a much better and safer option.