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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Marine Fish: Fresh Seafood Dishes in 6th of October City
As a relatively young area of Cairo, 6th of October City boasts an impressive roster of venues and attractions to satisfy its growing ring of residents and visitors. Passing through the largely residential Mina Garden City Compound in the Motamayez district, we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a fish restaurant; Marine Fish.
Other than a basic sign indicating its existence, the restaurant is highly indistinctive from the outside. However, upon stepping through the threshold, our appetites were immediately teased by the magnificent, icy, fresh fish display emanating a scent of the sea.
The menu is varied but not unusual for seafood in Cairo; dishes include rice with prawns (11LE/18LE), spaghetti with a seafood mix (25LE), and salads (2LE) - baba ganough and tehina. We also noticed an abundance of shrimp dishes; shrimp cocktail (35LE), fried shrimp (30LE) with salsa (36LE), and a more unusual shrimp molokheya (12LE).
All of the fish come with a choice of traditional cooking methods such as grilled, stuffed and with lemon and olive oil. The price of the fish varies from day to day, depending on the price per kg.
We went ahead and ordered ourselves three stuffed mullets (30LE/kg), a plate of calamari stew (90LE/kg) and 250grams of grilled shrimp (120LE/kg) on the side, which was plenty to satisfy two stomachs. We headed upstairs to the open air seating area and were told that the order would be ready shortly, and that we should pick it up ourselves. Looking past the Styrofoam and aluminium plates, all the fish looked fresh and smelt delicious.
As we had anticipated, the calamari stew was beautifully fresh and was complemented brilliantly by its mixture of spicy vegetables and salsa. Furthermore, the dish was only moderately oily which is rarely found when one orders soups and stews in Cairo. The grilled shrimp, meanwhile, were served with a flavourful combination of vegetables, spices and a dash of mint. Although both tasted great and were finely seasoned, they were a little over cooked, and slightly chewy. On the other hand, our stuffed mullet was perfect; the aromatic vegetable stuffing was generous in serving and the white meat peeled away effortlessly from the fish's spine.
Despite its inelegance and no-frills approach, if you're ever in 6th of October City and are willing to get your hands messy, give Marine Fish a shot for some delectable, fresh seafood.
If you’re familiar with the Egyptian dining scene, you’ll know that sustainability is not really our strong point – quality is hit and miss, and sometimes even restaurants that have solid reputations and have been around for ages can disappoint. Case in point: if you’re a regular Gouna dinner, you may find yourself disappointed with what’s offered these days. However, we were pleasantly surprised – and relieved – to discover that the Smokery at El Gouna Yacht Club lives up to its billing.
Located towards the far end of Abu Tig Marina (on the opposite side of the new Marina to Mori Sushi, et al), the Smokery is situated right next to the marina’s lighthouse, so of course we chose to sit outdoors and admire the view despite the sweltering August heat. Craving something cold and salty, we completely bypassed their mise-en-bouche selection (35LE to 250LE) of cheese bites and fried seafood nibbles, and we went straight for their Salmon Fiesta; a selection of salmon bites including chunks of raw salmon steak, smoked salmon wraps and salmon sushi wrapped in seaweed. By the time we’d finished this generous dish and the tasty smoked fish dip they’d brought along with breadsticks, we all stared at each other in dismay. We were full. And we hadn’t even got to the main course yet.
Ignoring our stomachs and better judgement, we continued forth, and not ones to break with tradition, we ordered more salmon mains: the grilled salmon steak served with veggie nicoise and basil (around 140LE), the salmon carpaccio (85LE) and, for a change, the shrimp tempura. By this point, we were honestly frothing at the mouth from overeating, but you could hardly blame us: the salmon was so delicious and astoundingly fresh, we realised that all the other salmons we’d ever had now paled in comparison. If anything, we found that we could happily eat the Smokery salmon raw or smoked, with barely any garnish or side dishes necessarily.
Not ones to give up easily or wisely, we ordered the chocolate soufflé for dessert, which we spooned – groaning at the effort – into our tired mouths. Despite the suffocating heat, the hot chocolate was a welcome change to the salmon, although the portion could have been better. Yes, despite eating ourselves sick, the chocolate could have been bigger.
With impeccable, attentive service and a lovely outdoor setting, the Smokery makes for a quiet, classy dining destination in Gouna when you don’t want to have the DJ music and Friday night festival bands hammering into your ears. For four appetisers, two mains, one dessert and two glasses of wine, the bill totalled around 900LE; not exactly cheap but nonetheless a quality and refreshing dining experience in Gouna.