Sign in using your account with
Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Tamara Lebanese Bistro: New Citystars Restaurant Opens in Time for Ramadan
Tamara in Citystars serves traditional Lebanese food with a modern flair. Brought to you by the same people behind Mori Sushi, this time they're looking to entice Cairo with an authentic taste of Lebanon. Located just across the VIP cinema on the ground floor, it caused quite a stir in the weeks leading up to its opening.
In a mostly white-washed interior, colourful oriental patterns and arabesque decorations accent the space, while the staff are clad in a galabeya-like uniforms of pink and grey. Tamara has multi-level seating areas to separate the smoking area from the non-smoking one. The restaurant also serves shisha (25LE) and with sufficient ventilation, the smoke won’t irritate you.
With Lebanese chefs, we were eager to begin ordering. The maqanek (Lebanese sausages) with potatoes and pomegranate dip (40LE) was heavenly; the sausages were delicious and perfectly spiced. The dish came with thin, fried potatoes and was soaked in the rich wine-red coloured dip that was sweet and distinctly sour; a perfect combination and a must try.
The potato soufflé with minced meat (35LE) seemed to have come right out of the oven to our table. The mashed potatoes were soft and creamy but could have used an extra pinch of salt. The lower layer of minced meat was well-cooked and flavourful.
Other appetizers include hummus (20LE-45LE), vine leaves (25LE) and kabbe nayee – or kobeiba (40LE). In addition, they have Lebanese pastries, such as chicken and shrimp roqaq (39LE and 45LE), fiteer with spinach (30LE), manakeesh (25LE) and meat in pastry (35LE).
For a main course, we ordered the baby chicken messahab (70LE); half a grilled chicken with thyme and mixed with potatoes. Fresh tomatoes and mint leaves gave it an extra special touch. The whole plate was covered with thin Lebanese bread freshly baked in front of us in their open kitchen.
Out of several shawerma options we tried the chicken shawerma plate (50LE). The shawerma came in a generous amount, wrapped in delicious Lebanese bread. With garlic sauce (tomeya) on the bread, the chicken was mixed with tomatoes, tasty herbs and topped with mint leaves. They also offer meat shawerma plate (55LE) and mini shawerma sandwiches (chicken 35LE and meat 45LE)
There are also fattah plates such as chicken fattah (45LE), lamb fillet fattah (55LE), and fattah with hummus and pine nuts (55LE).
We ordered konafa with cheese (35LE) for dessert, which was served quickly and initially given to us on the house. However when the order didn’t turn up correct, the waiter quickly apologized and soon after brought us the right one, only this time we were charged for it. The konafa came topped with a thick layer of cheese and was covered in syrup mixed with nuts and Lebanese mazaher. To guarantee the full experience, have a bite with all ingredients together.
We washed it all down the lemon with mint (30LE) that is blended milk, lemon, mint syrup, and little mint chunks. It was refreshing and one of the best lemon drinks we’ve had.
Despite the fact that our table
was a bit too small to handle all the dishes we ordered,
Tamara succeeded in tempting us to return – especially with the month of Ramadan upon us.
Lebanese restaurants in Cairo continue to flourish on the local dining scene, for both its familiarity and similarities to Egyptian cuisine, and its bold twist. Located on a busy corner of Gameat El Dowal Street in Mohandiseen, Al Mokhtar is yet another eatery offering traditional, Lebanese meals.
The restaurant boasts a classy ambience, complimented by white walls adorned with intricate, hand-drawn murals. While the ground floor features an ordering counter and high tables with stools, upstairs is a spacious seating area overlooking the busy traffic of Mohandiseen. The seating features tables of four and six, as well as those that can seat over ten patrons.
The menu at Al Mokhtar is vast and varied. Appetsers such as fattoush (16LE), tabboula (16LE), hummus beiruty (17LE), kebbeh (20LE) and of course stuffed vine leaves (20LE) are available. Along with a wide selection of manaqeesh (14LE – 22LE), there are also beef and chicken shawermas offered in an assortment of breads (17LE- 19LE), and more common options such as burgers (20LE – 27LE) and pizza (33LE – 40LE).
We ordered stuffed vine leaves, kebeh bel laban (24LE) – meat dumplings with yoghurt sauce – and a minced meat (20LE) manoucheh, along with hummus beiruty and tomeya (8LE) dips for appetisers. We then enjoyed a chicken fransisco sandwich (22LE), beef shawerma in saj bread (18LE) and a spicy kofta wrap (16LE).
After a short time, we were brought the vine leaves and hummus Beiruty, without bread. Although the vine leaves were tasty, they were peculiarly served without stuffing. On the other hand, the hummus Beiruty tasted fabulous as a dip, with added herbs, spices, and diced vegetables.
The bread eventually arrived and was definitely worth the wait; fresh out of the oven, it was steaming hot and fluffy. Despite being well-made with plenty of garlic, the taameya was slightly on the salty side.
We were impressed with the minced meat manoucheh, which, unlike the pizza-similar manaqeesh usually found in Cairo, features a thin sheet of pastry, giving room for the meat flavour to dominate as opposed to the dough.
The sandwiches, meanwhile, varied in quality. The beef shawerma was covered with a generous sprinkle of herbs and spices, without being overtly salted. Meanwhile, the spicy kofta sandwich boasted quality, lean meat and soft, fresh bread, but could have used more seasoning. The worst of the three sandwiches, however, was the chicken Francisco; served in fino bread, the sandwich was made with slices of processed cheese, canned corn and more lettuce than grilled chicken.
It appears that Al Mokhtar is one those venues that offer a wide variety of foods, but at the risk of inconsistency. That said, with reasonable prices, polite staff and filling food, there are plenty of well-made Lebanese dishes to be enjoyed.