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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.
While fast-food certainly has a charm to it, we all have moments when we crave a nice home-cooked meal, but have nowhere to turn to. Fortunately, in recent years, the Cairo restaurant scene has featured several new eateries offering just that.
With the emergence of several of these types of restaurants in Maadi, we turned to the one of the area’s longest running home food delivery services, Akl Beety.
The delivery-only restaurant, located in Nirco’s Fifth Sector, has an enormous menu that features everything from appetisers like mombar and kobeba, to main courses and casseroles, crepes and pizzas.
After scanning the menu, we opted for an order of Kobeba (10LE) and Sambsouak (10.50LE) from the appetisers, Mesa’aa (Egyptian moussaka) with Minced Meat (14LE), Rice with Vermicelli (5LE), Oriental Rice with Nuts (8LE), Meal Number 5 (36LE) and Om Ali with Nuts (13LE) for dessert.
The ordering process was relatively streamlined, but the delivery took about an hour and a half when the restaurant states it should only take an hour if you’re ordering from inside Maadi. This was not explained by the restaurant, and no apologies were made for the delay, even though the kitchen was located less than a five-minute drive from us.
Our food arrived neatly wrapped but relatively cold. We found both the Kobeba and the Sambousak to be disappointing, the former for being under-seasoned to the point of having little flavour, and the latter for being very under-fried. Instead of being a crispy and golden in colour, the Sambousak was almost white and rather chewy.
The Mesa’aa, which had good, deep flavours, but was a little short on the minced meat, worked nicely with the Rice with Vermicelli. The Oriental Rice, however, was much less pleasant, tasting stale and chewy.
Meal number five, which is made up of Chicken Pane, Vine Leaves, Yoghurt Salad, French Fries and a soda, was probably our highlight of the night. Two pieces of fairly decent breaded chicken breast and a generous portion of tasty vine leaves made this meal the best at value for money. The French fries were disappointingly soggy, though, and the yoghurt salad was a little bland.
The Om Ali, surprisingly the warmest dish in the entire order, while tasty, was unfortunately dry and could’ve used some extra milk.
All in all, we found our meals to be quite decent, but it’s difficult to call it anything else. On the one hand, the value for money is great, totalling at 106LE for two people and some food left over, but on the other hand, it suffers the same problem most home-food restaurants do; it still tastes better at home.