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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.
After rushing around the mall, shopping like a maniac and going from shop to shop, you ultimately find yourself in the food court yearning for a quick bite to replenish all the energy you spent on finding the biggest bargains. Wanting, however, to still fit into our newly bought clothes, we opted for healthier, grilled options from Shakra to Go.
Located in Cairo Festival City Mall’s considerably large food court, one can easily spot the place as it boasts Abou Shakra’s classic logo. It is, in essence, a small-scale Abou Shakra restaurant offering many of the original chain’s wholesome, grilled delicacies.
We grabbed one of the menus laid out by the cashier and began scanning them, not letting the sizeable queue in front of it shake us one bit. The place offers all kinds of meat and chicken sandwiches, including shawerma, kofta and pane options, as well as full-on meals that consist of a meat option and two sides of French fries, rice or sautéed vegetables, or dips such as tehina and tomeya (garlic dip). We also spotted some classic appetisers such as samboosak, kobeiba, stuffed vine leaves and even some pasta.
Upon ordering and paying at the cashier, we were told that our food would take about fifteen minutes to be ready, though it took a little more than that.
Efficiently packaged and well-organised, our order looked promising. Our Mix Grill meal (50LE) was, quite surprisingly, small with only a couple of tiny pieces each of shish tawook, kebab and kofta to speak of. The rice, however, was plentiful and the side of sautéed vegetables was efficient. Our second meal was the Shish Tawook meal (30LE) and looked pretty much similar to the first one in overall size and presentation.
Our food lacked the freshness one always expects from Abou Shakra. Sure, the taste was alright and the food was not at all inedible, yet it was sadly stale and just did not taste like it was fresh off the grill. The rice was filled with chicken liver and raisins, which we were not quite huge fans of either and the sautéed vegetables were a tad too oily.
All in all, for its quite lower prices and smaller venue, the lower quality of the food in comparison to the original Abou Shakra restaurants was quite expected. Shakra to Go does, however, offer more diversity to the food court which is laden with unhealthy fast-food options relying on deep-fried food.