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Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
Lai Thai: Terrific Thai Food at the Four Seasons Giza
Ethnic food can be hit-and-miss in Cairo, and when it comes to Thai food; there just aren’t enough quality options. If you’re craving good Thai food in Egypt; we recommend that you make your way over to Lai Thai at the Four Seasons in Giza. Laden with silk wall hangings of gold leaf and other Thai artefacts, this restaurant offers deliciously authentic Thai food that’s worth its high price tag.
The appetiser sampler for two (120LE) is highly recommended. It consists of five popular Thai appetisers, including chicken and beef satay, shrimp and crab croquettes, marinated chicken wrapped in leak leaf, Thai saku dumplings filled with chicken and peanuts; and minced chicken and shrimps coriander in rice tartlets. We most enjoyed the tender meat satays served with chunky peanut sauce, as well as the saku dumplings, which were like sticky rice balls filled with finely chopped marinated chicken and roasted peanuts.
The mee lueng hang (90LE), stir-fried yellow noodles with beef and white cabbage, was pretty yummy. It wasn’t anything out of this world, but the noodles were well-cooked and fried with oyster sauce and sweet chilli paste. The beef was noticeably tender and a good cut of meat.
The talay phad phong ga ree (105LE), a plate of stir-fried scallops, calamari, and shrimps in yellow curry, is one of the best curries that we’ve had. The super fresh seafood was cooked with red onions and slices of red hot chilli pepper. If you don’t like your curry hot; don’t eat the pepper! The entrée is served with freshly steamed rice. The yellow curry was so fantastic; we continued to eat it after the seafood was gone. It was well-spiced, creamy and full of flavour.
The caramelised Thai pumpkin custard (32LE) dessert is to die for. It’s basically like a Thai spin on crème brûlee with bits of pumpkin thrown in. It was incredibly delicious and the custard was just the right consistency. Even though we were already stuffed from our meals; we licked the plate dry.
Aside from the lovely food, the service was fantastic. The Thai waitresses were very attentive, friendly and eager to answer any questions about the food. An appetiser, two entrées and a dessert can cost around 450LE, including taxes and service charge.
Asian cuisine seems to be on the rise in Cairo, and luckily for us, we’re huge fans of anything from-the-wok.
One of the lesser known restaurants in Maadi is Yam Yen. Maadi is no stranger to Thai cuisine, with several options to choose from should you be in the mood to eat with chopsticks, but this particular restaurant has one thing most of the others don’t; a good venue.
With a nicely landscaped garden area featuring a fountain, wooden archways and bamboo decorations, Yam Yen is a break from the overly stereotypical decorations found across all Asian restaurants—including Indian.
The interior features dim yellow lighting contrasted against dark wooden furniture, and dining areas are divided using opaque glass panels with metalwork.
We were seated indoors by a pleasant waiter and handed our menus. Featuring all the regular appetizers as well as some interesting soup options, the main courses feature red and green curries, as well as building your own stir-fried shrimp, fish, chicken, beef or vegetables main course from the wok in a sauce of your choosing.
We opted for the Tom Kha Chicken Soup (34LE) alongside Shrimp with Sweet Basil and Chili sauce (59LE) and Beef with Oyster Sauce (54LE). For the sides, we opted for a Vegetable Pad Thai (39LE), Stir-Fried Egg Noodles (39LE) and an order of Vegetable Fried Rice (19LE).
The food took a little longer than average to serve, but the soup was definitely worth the wait. Wonderfully bursting with coconut milk flavour, the Tom Kha soup, featuring pieces of tender chicken, galangal, lemon, mushroom and coriander, was the highlight of the night.
We tried different combinations of rice, noodles and pad thai with the main courses, but we found the Stir-Fried Noodles to be the weakest and most lacking in the flavour department.
While the Beef in Oyster Sauce was tasty, the portion was relatively small. The Shrimp was even smaller, consisting of exactly four pieces of shrimp in a sea of carrots and bell peppers. Both their sauces were interesting, but there just wasn’t enough of either to enjoy it for very long.
The Pad Thai was probably the tastiest, aside from the soup, featuring bean sprouts and peanuts in good non-overpowering amounts. The Fried Rice, topped with eggs and vegetables, was also quite filling and better than the average side of steamed rice.
The problem with Yam Yen isn’t the quality of food, it’s how little of it you get for so much money. The venue is clean and the service decent, but with the sides costing almost the same as the main courses, expect to either leave it hungry, or pay a hefty amount.