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Dokki, Cairo, Egypt.
Abo Ramez El Soury: Syrian Shawerma in Dokki
Among the plethora of restaurants in Cairo, Abo Ramez El Soury has always enjoyed a reputation for its Levantine dishes, grills and, of course, shawerma.
Recently, the restaurant has taken to reworking its menu; a change that has seen alterations to old items, several new options and the addition of full meals. Maintaining the simplicity that made it so popular, the menu includes sandwiches, fatta, manakeesh, soup, the Abo Ramez platters (one of the new additions), entrees, salads and soft drinks. Abo Ramez does not have a seating area, relying solely on delivery and people eating in proximity to the venue either on foot or in their cars.
Meat and chicken shawermas (small 15LE, large 17LE) are cooked perfectly, made with a creamy garlic sauce and French fries. Other classic favourites found at Abo Ramez include Syrian falafel (4LE), kebbeh (7LE) and potatoes (8LE).
New additions include the Abo Ramez Mix (33LE); large enough to satisfy two people, the mammoth platter includes loose chicken or beef shawerma along with rice, one large crunchy kebbeh, garlic sauce, French fries and sajj bread. Combo meals for shawerma (23LE), shawerma mix (24LE), liver (17LE) and Syrian falafel (8LE) sandwiches are also available.
We ordered one Abo Ramez Mix and a beef fatta, both of which tasted great. The former's preparation in particular was spectacular – loaded with the juicy shawerma pieces, the rice was neither hard nor soggy and had been cooked to perfection. The flavourful garlic sauce, meanwhile, made for a perfect accompaniment, especially with the crunchy kebbeh and fries. The only downside came courtesy of the selection of pickles served to us, which were clearly lacking freshness.
Served in a moderate portion with a tub of garlic sauce on the side, the fatta was primarily overwhelmed by the rice. Unlike the conventional preparation of fatta, the bread and rice had not been mixed; instead, a thin layer of bread at the bottom of the container was topped by a mountainous serving of rice.
When all is said and done, Abo Ramez provides the full Middle Eastern shawerma experience. The food is reasonably-priced and the service is hasty, though be warned; when waiting for orders, the scent of the grill and shawerma skewer is enough to make a grown man squeal.
With an ever-increasing Syrian population in Egypt, Cairo has witnessed a rise in the number of restaurants and fast food venues offering dishes from the Levant. Craving some authentic Syrian eats for breakfast, we headed over to Al Jinani, a restaurant in the Syrian district in 6th of October city.
Taking a stroll right across from El Hussary Mosque, we entered said Syrian District a busy area boasting dozens of restaurants and fast food venues with typical Syrian choices on the menu, including shawerma, fattah and kebab halabi amongst others.
At every corner of the district, there are grocery shops selling Syrian goods including cheese, nuts and olive oil, not to mention dozens of confectionaries offering Syrian desserts including Konafa Nabulsiya and Halwa Al Jibn.
Like most of the restaurants in the district, Al Jinani has a simple outdoorsy setting on the sidewalk. We sat down to enjoy the sun and the cool morning breeze.
After the friendly waiter’s recommendation, we opted for a platter of regular Syrian foul (8LE), foul with milk (8LE), falafel (5LE), Tase’yee (10LE) and Mosabaha (7LE) – Syrian hummus – which were all served with a side of pickles.
Cooked with chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, our foul was quite flavourful with the garlic, parsley and lemon giving it just the right punch. The foul with milk had essentially the same ingredients as the regular foul, only with the addition of yoghurt and tehina and was even more flavourful than the first, with the tehina yoghurt twist perfectly complementing its components.
Unlike the Egyptian version, Syrian falafel is made out of chickpeas instead of fava beans, which gave it a lighter green colour and it was hot, crunchy and as delicious as any you’ll find in Cairo. With a texture similar to the tehina paste, our Mosabaha made with chickpeas was light, creamy and overall quite enjoyable.
The coup de grace, however, was the Tase’yee. Served with essentially the same ingredients we tasted in our foul – chickpeas, tomatoes, parsley and tehina – but without the foul and with the addition of fried bread pieces and margarine on top; though it was quite heavy, it was by far the highlight of our breakfast and we couldn’t get enough of it.
All in all, our breakfast experience at Al Jinani was quite delightful and as much as we think nothing can beat our good old Egyptian foul medames, we really enjoyed the distinctive Syrian flavours introduced in Al Jinani’s dishes. It’s an experience you’re likely to repeat more than once, especially if you’re a fan of Syrian cuisine.