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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Chicken Tikka: Popular Meat-Feast Chain in Dokki
The restaurant certainly doesn’t look very Indian either. Owned by the Americana Group, this ‘casual dining brand’ has branches throughout Cairo, and is apparently ubiquitous in the Middle East as a whole.
Americana certainly seems to be the order of the day as far as the Viny Square branch’s décor is concerned. But despite being shiny and clean, the interior was poorly laid-out and felt cramped, with a group of waiters gathered uncomfortably round the counter.
These waiters far and away were the best thing about the restaurant. Attentive and helpful, they really deserve to be serving better food than the greasy, sub-par fare, dished out courtesy of their employers.
The food at least had the merit of looking exactly like its picture in the restaurant’s glossy menu. Unfortunately, as the Oriental Platter (30LE) was set down in front of us, we realised that this glossy quality was probably down to the oil in which all the food was uniformly drenched.
The platter consisted of four kobeba, twelve vine leaves, eight samosas filled with either cheese or mincemeat, all accompanied by dipping sauces: tehina and yoghurt. Given that all the above elements relied largely on oil rather than flavour, it was a little difficult to tell them apart. Save the vine leaves, which were drenched in mouth-stinging vinegar. The samosas’ pastry casings were fine, but the salty cheese filling oozed out of the samosa like silly putty. The mincemeat was similarly underwhelming; garnished with an ill-fitting selection of spices.
The two small pots which accompanied the platter apparently contained the dipping sauces. However, they were as sparse as they were ill-fitting. This may have been because the ‘tehina’ wasn’t actually tehina; just an anonymous oil-based sauce in which to dunk our oily comestibles.
We watched the lovely waiter with growing sympathy as he brought out the Tikka Mixed Grill (47.27LE); this was a plate containing a quarter chicken, five pieces of kebab and two pieces of kofta. On the side: oily ‘buri’ bread, bland mixed vegetables, a choice of basmati rice or fries, and tomeya sauce, which was identical to the alleged tehina.
Chicken Tikka claims to serve, ‘exclusively delicious recipes of meat, chicken, quail and farouge’. Accordingly, most of the meat was pleasingly moist and tasty. Apart from the kofta, which was rough and dry.
The menu does have some variation, offering a salad bar at 17LE a bowl and a children‘s menu (dishes roughly 20LE). Tea and soft drinks are both 6LE and there is a selection of juices; the guava juice (9LE) was made of fresh guavas. However, it failed to make up for how unsatisfied and unhealthy we felt upon leaving the restaurant, vowing to eat nothing but raw vegetables for a week.
The result of our philosophical musings? Chicken Tikka is a weird cultural hybrid; an anonymous American chain, failing to embrace or understand any of the elements that make up its hybridism. More importantly, the food is unsatisfying and it’s overpriced.
With Mcdonald’s and Pizza Hut pretty much monopolising Dokki’s Messaha Square – just look at the always empty Papa John’s – it’s always a surprise when something new opens there. However, that didn’t stop Wienerwald from opening a new branch next to the ill-fated Papa John’s.
With the apple-green ceiling, wood floor, random cartoonish chicken silhouettes, the interior of Wienerwald pretty much follows the same colour scheme of the international branches. There are very limited number of tables and chairs, though.
Wienerwald’s menu is all about different variations of chicken, salads, sides and a lonely hot dog item. After checking the menu, we opted for Half Rotisserie Chicken Meal (50LE), Schnitzel (47LE) and Backhendl (36LE).
Served with perfectly cooked French fries, the rotisserie chicken had a beautiful golden brown crispy skin, exquisite seasoning with a unique smoky flavour to it and was all-round tender – plus, it didn’t have the bad poultry odour you usually find with roasted chicken. Despite a second side of bland rice, it was a flavourful and affordable meal served in a generous portion.
Moving to the Schnitzel, the German classic dish was served with a mini bowl of unremarkable coleslaw and a cold mashed potato that was otherwise very creamy and tasty. As for the schnitzel itself, it was breaded perfectly and had a perfect crust and the chicken very tender, but it wasn’t as thin as schnitzel should be, though a simple squeeze of lemon on top added a great zesty flavour.
Meanwhile, the Backhendl was rather disappointing. Coming with French fries, coleslaw,and 3 pieces of fried breaded chicken – a traditional Austrian dish – was, unlike the previous dishes, very dry, lacked seasoning which and tasted bland, while the crust was super oily.
We finished our meal with a German Apfelstrudel (19LE). The pastry is stuffed with an apple-cinnamon mixture, topped with powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Though it sounds great on paper, it turned out to be another disappointment. Even though the pastry had perfect layers it was very tough and while the apple had a spot-on tender consistency, the cinnamon flavour was far too strong – we felt like we were being tricked into taking the cinnamon challenge.
All in all, our visit at Wienerwald had its ups and downs. For a fast food chain, their food is clean and feels homemade. At the time of our visit, though, we experience the classic fast food problem: inconsistency. Some items were great and others had their flaws – a few too many.