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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Kazaz: Downtown Cairo’s Hub For Cheap Fast Food
It’s easy to get discouraged by cheap baladi food in Cairo, where sometimes a taameya sandwich for 2LE can be a huge, regrettable mistake. If you’re looking for a dependable baladi restaurant that delivers up Cairo’s yummiest fast food that’s also always affordable, however, then what you’re looking for is Kazaz.
Aside from offering every variety of taameya and foul that exists, Kazaz's shawerma sandwiches are Downtown’s finest. The meat is fresh and sautéed with tomatoes, onions and peppers. The sandwiches come in three sizes, the smallest of which is served in a semi-sweet, sesame seed Kaiser bun and drizzled with tehina sauce. The medium and larger sizes are served in classic, long shawerma rolls. Baladi burgers are another Kazaz classic that can hit the spot. In between a sesame seed roll, a perfectly sunny-side-up egg sits on a beef patty with cheese and all the fix-ins.
A review on Kazaz wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their terrific lentil soup. Although not quite suitable for warm weather, you might find yourself ordering it anyway; it’s just that irresistible. The lentil soup has the perfect thickness and is served with raw onion, fresh lemon and tiny pieces of crunchy, fried bread.
Conveniently located next to Ahwa Bustan and Stella Bar, many regulars pick up something quick before heading to a nearby hangout. Although Kazaz is mostly known for its fast food service, there is a seating area upstairs if you’re looking for a sit-down meal. Try the 1/4 chicken meal, which is served generously with chicken soup, rice, mixed vegetables and fresh salad. There are other Egyptian goodies and they’re all pretty delicious, including molokheya, mahshi and fresh okra in tomato sauce.
Kazaz’s take-away section stays open until the very early hours of the morning, so it’s a perfect place to satisfy a midnight craving or to hang out after a long night. Kazaz delivers in the Downtown area, so if you live in the neighbourhood; you’re in luck. They’re generally quite fast, but they definitely have their off nights.
Kazaz is living proof that delicious food in Egypt can be affordable. Foul and taameya varieties never exceed 2LE to3LE, shawermas cost between 4LE to 9LE, and lentil soup costs 4LE. Full meals, such as the 1/4 chicken meal, cost around 20LE to 25LE.
Koshary, foul, taameya are the foods most synonymous with Egypt, but rarely does anyone bring up feteer – a classic Egyptian dish that can be traced back for many generations. With several versions covering sweet and savoury, as well as the traditional Feteer Meshaltet, restaurants who focus on Feteer can target a very wide audience and get creative.
In Maadi, one such eatery by the name of Feteera can be found on Road 233. With one man behind the counter both taking orders and preparing them, the restaurant itself is tiny, meaning eating-in isn’t exactly the most comfortable of experience.
But feteer is a food best eaten at home where you can get messy without the judgemental eyes of fellow diners. The menu features both feteer and pizza, alongside the Rocket Menu – feteer wrapped into a sandwich.
We opted for a Minced Meat Rocket (15LE) and an Alexandrian Sausage Rocket (15LE), as well as an Alexandrian Hawawshi (15LE).
Serving time was quick and the Rocket Feteer consisted of three wraps per order in Styrofoam plates. Using feteer essentially as bread is an obvious but novel use of it, but the stuffing itself did little to help either sandwich. Firstly, because it was so scarce, and secondly, the meats – especially the minced beef – were overcooked to gaminess. In addition, the feteer itself was greasy and soggy.
The Hawawshi, which we originally thought was just a Rocket stuffing, turned out to be a full sized hawawshi with a peculiar non-bread but also non-feteer dough. Whatever this hawawshi was trying to be, it missed the mark entirely, thanks primarily, once again, to overcooked meet.
While Feteera’s creative use of feteer is commendable, the fetter itself didn’t impress, often being far too greasy. Another factor that undermined the food is the overcooked meet that, when combined with disappointing feteer, didn’t leave much to enjoy. There’s always a danger when meddling with a classic – especially when the fundamentals aren’t executed correctly. The biggest problem with Feteera, ultimately, is that behind the innovative variations, the feteer itself left much to be desired, so anything built on top of that is doomed to fall short.