Chicken Tikka provided us with something of an existential quandary, which occupied our thoughts throughout the dining process. This KFC mock-up with delusions of grandeur neither serves chicken tikka nor has any apparent connection to India’s great culinary heritage other than the basmati rice, gleaming a radioactive yellow on the mixed ‘tikka’ platter.

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.