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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Hash Coffee Company: Café By Day, Restaurant By Night in Cairo's Mall of Arabia
We sat outside in something like an English pub-garden terrace with wooden decking and furniture, plants and TV screens. Inside they’d plumed for a vaguely 60s look, with comfy chairs and sofas, or bar stools to sit at; seeing as in the daytime Hash functions as a coffee lounge. Patrons who choose to eat inside have the added pleasure of being able to watch the chefs prepare their food at the back of the restaurant.
London is not best known for its culinary excellence so we weren’t surprised to find that the menu struggled to keep up with the London theme. Big Ben and a beaming Beefeater were on the front cover, but inside the menu we can only assume they were attempting to reflect London’s multiculturalism. The appetisers included Thai and Mexican dishes but we opted for the English pub favourite, onion rings (15LE), which turned out to be plenty to share amongst friends.
We were offered a good selection of burgers and pasta dishes, which included meat and seafood options, plus a few vegetarian meals. The England motif came to the fore on the ‘English Grilled Steak’ page of the menu, although quite what was English about them was unclear, as the beef, we were proudly told, was Australian.
Apparently, Londoners are huge cheese fanatics, as a great many of the meals were described as ‘cheesy’ - shrimp and steaks included. In a delightful addition to the menu, Hash had a selection of British favourites, including a jazzed up version of the humble hot pot. For 69.99LE you can satisfy your English cravings with a chicken and cheese hotpot-pie, or try good old fashioned fish and chips (59.99LE).
We tucked into a Swiss mushroom bacon burger (44.99LE), and southern chicken and beef fajitas (69.99LE). Again, the portions were huge; the burger was more of a truckers challenge than an afternoon snack and the fajitas were bursting with plenty of meat, garnish and salad. To the credit of Australia’s finest, the beef was good in both dishes and the chicken strips for the fajitas were tender and well cooked.
The burger was the beef, cheese, mushroom, bacon tower we expected, and together with chips and a small salad, it made for a hearty meal. The fajitas came in their composite parts ready to be constructed into a meal, but the pile upon pile of relish and salad complicated matters. We received the meat in a sizzling steel pan atop mixed peppers and roasted vegetables.
The restaurant offers free soft drink refills, which were well received, but their latte proved to be not much more than steamed milk. All the waiters were very keen to please and the shisha we had was well attended, if a little bland itself.
London, it is not, but for a few English treats, Hash doesn’t do a bad job of trying to mix up the standard menu usually found at these places. If we find ourselves suddenly overcome with desire for a hotpot, we know where to head.
Overlooking the Nile and Cairo Tower, InterContinental Cairo Semiramis’ Night & Day has it all on paper – a stunning view, live music and a Friday brunch buffet offering a diverse selection of international cuisines. Located by the Garden City hotel’s lobby, the music can be heard all over the place, giving a fun positive vibe, once you enter the hotel.
Greeted at the entrance, we felt welcome and pampered as we were shown to our table, with the lovely sunny view giving a sophisticated backdrop to the culinary experience (290LE per person) we were about to embark on.
As we were still trying to figure out which station to start with, we were first greeted with a welcome drink made up of soda, coconut, lemon juice and a cherry on top; a great refreshing start.
After a buffet tour courtesy of Night & Day’s extremely friendly chefs, we started at the all-inclusive fresh salad bar, where we treated ourselves to an assortment of cold cuts, cheeses, breads and salads that boasted a variety to satisfy every pallet and an all-round freshness.
Our first station into the main courses, we opted for some Mexican sausage – available in regular and spicy – which had a somewhat dry outer shell but great flavourful meaty filling. We also tried the chicken fajita wraps which had a crispy outer shell with a warm and satisfying chicken punch, perfectly complimented by sour cream and guacamole dips.
Visiting Night & Day’s Chinese station, we were served some crispy spring rolls. Fresh out of the oil, with a crunchy golden brown outer pastry, fresh cabbage and vegetables fillings, these were among the best spring rolls we’ve had in some time.
Offering an array of mouth-watering grilled delicacies, our next stop was the grill station where we had a well-done lamb steak with gorgeous grill marks and an incredibly fresh taste, which we couldn’t get enough of. A side of shish tawook on a stick gave a welcome contrast to the steak and tasted just as good.
We wrapped up our grills fiesta with a large grilled salmon steak which had a melt-in-your-mouth pink texture and a sublime taste. We reached the soup station a little later in our tour, where we tried a Taiwanese soup comprised of coconut and mushroom which had a distinct flavour unlike any soup we’ve tried before.
Making our way onwards to other never-ending stations, we stopped by another Asian culinary special which had classic Indian selections, including flavoured rice infused with boiled potatoes and grilled vegetables and chicken curry which had a spicy kick and a creamy smooth taste.
Our last two stops before hitting dessert were the sushi bar; where we tried some tasty and fresh sushi bites and the pasta station where we tasted some over baked pasta which needed an extra kick in its flavours.
Offering both Eastern and Western desserts and an exquisite chocolate fountain, the dessert station was a lounge of its own, with a chef’s special one-meter-long mille feuilles with different fresh toppings and fantastic cream sauce which complimented the perfect crunchy taste. We couldn’t help to leave without trying the red velvet and black forest cakes, which, hands down, were outstanding.
All in all, with a versatile selection of foods, a chic atmosphere, not to mention amazing service, there was very little to complain about at Night & Day at the time of our visit – a visit that we have no qualms making again and again.