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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Oya Lounge: Simple Ramadan Sohour in Mohandiseen
Located in Mohandiseen, Oya Lounge offers a splendid sohour experience. A mesh of sleek modern interior and festive Ramadan decorations, it offers a perfect destination for Cairenes to enjoy a Ramadan night out.
A bouncer standing outside Oya’s large wooden door reminded us of entering a club; after confirming reservations, we were lead to the table. Traditions were alive with a big foul cart to the right of the entrance, while on the other side two women busily prepared freshly baked bread, which filled up the place with a delicious aroma.
The design of the restaurant is distinct with a comfortably sized outdoor area that’s surrounded by high walls with added lighting details. A modern waterfall produces tranquil sounds, and with plasma screens all over, the interior is sophisticated and equally pleasant.
With a minimum charge of 100LE per person, we started our sohour with a mushroom omelette (15LE) that was delicious with little pieces of fresh mushrooms infused, and a Spanish omelette (15LE) that had pieces of tomatoes, mushrooms, and green peppers cut into it. We also ordered foul with olive oil (13LE); the beans came mashed and drenched in olive oil to the point that they were literally covered in it. The foul was not seasoned well, if at all, which came as a disappointment for such a standard dish.
We ordered a plate of falafel (12LE); the four crunchy fried falafels were not the best and we expected more from a a place that is so meticulous about its appearance. We also tried their white cheese with tomatoes, which was mildly salty and tasty with little tomato pieces, it went very well with their freshly baked bread.
The menu also includes manakeesh with different toppings; you can choose from manakeesh with cheese (27LE), spinach (27LE), meat (28LE), sausage and cheese (28LE) and halloumi cheese (24LE). We settled on the one thyme manakeesh (25LE). It was hot and came straight from the oven; cut into slices and topped with dry thyme, the dish was fresh amd enjoyable.
A variety of Lebanese grills are also available; shish tawook (48LE), kofta (67LE-58LE), chicken messahab (45LE), and mixed grill (85LE) are a few of the options, as well as fatta plates such as chicken fatta (36LE), fattah with hummus (28LE), and fattah with meat (40LE).
Their chicken Oya dish (54LE) comes in a thick white sauce with tomatoes and peppers chopped into it; a total success, the ideally portioned dish was also perfectly spiced and cooked. Oya also serves fillet with a variety of sauces that range between 52LE and 74LE.
With oriental music playing all night, the setting, the decorations, the service and the reasonable food prices, Oya is likely to become a regular hangout in Ramadan, and even beyond the holy month.
Cairo restaurants and cafes have seen numerous trends over the years and recently, the emergence of fondue has become apparent all over the city. Run by two young entrepreneurs and a team of friendly waiters, the Fondue Pot in Heliopolis celebrates the Swiss dish in all its forms.
Sitting above Mood Restaurant and Lounge on Abdel Moneim Hafez Street, the exterior of the restaurant resembles a Swiss chalet with natural wood accents and traditional windows. The interior is equally as charming; wooden seating, red and white checkered tablecloths and Swiss memorabilia hang from the beams.
Being one of just two groups, the menus arrived quickly, along with an explanation of some of the dishes. The drinks menu includes a long list of fresh juices, mocktails, iced teas, frappes and hot drinks, including a selection of the increasingly popular ‘Nespresso’ coffees. We went for one Geneva mocktail (22LE) – a deliciously fruity, slushy concoction of peach, orange and passionfruit – and an icey Lugano (23LE); a fresh, citrusy, but sweet, mixture of orange, lemon, guava and honey.
The food menu doesn’t limit itself to just your basic cheese fondue, but instead lists numerous, exotic sounding variations of the traditional dish (90LE-140LE), along with salads, raclettes – a traditional Swiss side dish – chicken, meat and sweet dessert fondues. The restaurant works on a DIY and sharing basis; the portions are large and the meats are cooked at the table, by the customer, using their chosen method. Combo meals are also pre-arranged should you be unsure about what to order.
We ordered a 'traditional combo' (450LE), advisably for two people, which included traditional Swiss cheese fondue, a garden green salad, chicken, traditional raclette and milk chocolate fondue. Before long, the cheese fondue arrived, along with a gigantic bowl of bite-sized, yummy toast pieces and a plate of fresh, crunchy broccoli. We were shown how to turn down and turn off the heat of the flaming fondue contraption, in case our fondue began getting too hot. The fondue was both cheesy and creamy, with a béchamel sauce consistency, perfect for coating our dipping pieces. Our side salad was a healthy mix of fresh greens, dressed with a delectable, flavourful vinaigrette.
Unable to finish our course of fondue, it was replaced by an electronic stone plate, heated and coated with oil, ready to cook our chicken on. The generous servings of raw meat were thinly sliced, served with a selection of six tasty sauces and herbs for seasoning. Our passionate waiter demonstrated how to prepare a raclette with new potatoes, pickled onions and strong tasting gherkins in our tiny, square frying pans. We melted the cheese on top by placing our creations under the grill, beneath the hot plate, and although we cooked everything ourselves, the waiter was never too far away should we have required any guidance.
Next, we dipped pieces of ripe banana, green apple, sweet strawberries and soft kiwi in the heavenly, sweet, milk chocolate fondue. The only thing missing from this scrumptious dessert were spoons to help drink the chocolate straight from the pot, even if such a practice isn't etiquette.
The Fondue Pot provides a unique, sociable dining experience, serving up large quantities of quality food in a cosy, friendly setting which wholly justifies the expense.