Sign in using your account with
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
El Kebabgy: Finest Fresh Bread in Cairo
Egyptian women baking bread in a traditional stone oven isn’t an image normally associated with a five-star hotel; but at the Sofitel Gezirah’s El Kababgy, it’s one of the first things you see when you walk into the restaurant; and it’s something that they certainly take pride in.
Named after the traditional Egyptian kabab maker, the Sofitel restaurant elevates the humble barbeque concept to offer a taste of local culture to its guests. Set right on the Nile with wafts of delicious grilled meats scenting the air, it’s a dramatic and comforting atmosphere to enjoy while watching the feluccas go by.
Visually, the place is spectacular– the Nile itself is the star of this show and makes up for any perceived lack in venue décor. There are four dining areas, three outside with varying proximity to the water, and one inside, with modern décor and very inviting air conditioning.
The menu is simple and focused, sticking strictly to what would be offered in an Egyptian/Lebanese kitchen. They offer a selection of hot and cold mezzas, grilled meats and traditional Middle Eastern desserts– it’s really that simple.
We started off with some motabel (19LE), a garlicky, slightly spicy eggplant and tehina dip, coupled with two loaves of their scrumptious and freshly baked flatbread (3LE each).
The motabel had a strong spicy/garlicky flavour, whereas the bread was so fresh and lovely that we quickly settled on eating it by itself; no additions were necessary to enhance its cakey texture and subtle flavour.
With the barbeque calling, we selected the mixed grill (125LE), shish tawouk (70LE) and mango juice (22LE). The meats arrived on a crowd-pleasing, golden barbeque grill, protected by a loaf of bread and accompanied by some grilled vegetables.
At 70LE, the shish tawouk was pricey for just two skewers of slightly dry chicken. The mixed grill was better, including pieces of kabab, kofta and lamb chops as well as grilled chicken. All were tasty and tender, but the chewy, fresh lamb chop was the highlight, along with the lamb kabab– richly flavourful. The kofta could have done with a little less fat, along with the chicken, which was juicy yet grafted to its skin.
The only downside to our evening was the dinnerware, which was less than clean; we noticed the remnants of lipstick still on our water glasses, and nearly every plate had a little bit of something on it. The service was welcoming and gracious, but increasingly hard to flag down as the night wore on.
As with most outdoor summer dining, our only complaint was that it was too hot to sit outside and really enjoy our food of fairly heavy, grilled meats.
With plenty of new restaurants opening as fast as lightning and raising the bar for fine dining in Cairo, the interest in fast food venues is waning – even burger and pizza places are putting more focus on being gourmet. But, located on Zamalek’s busy 26th of July Street, roasted chicken specialist, Chick Shack, proves that the fast food concept is still popular in Cairo.
Not to be confused in any way with popular American chain, Shake Shack, the eatery’s name attracted some negative attention, but it all played into its publicity. The name is where the similarities end, though; Chick Shack stands out with a unique interior and playful vibe of its own. Some of its standout features include its ringed chandelier, an interesting choice of cold colours and a wall made of A-Treat soda boxes, not to mention the quirky staff uniforms made-up of buttoned-to-the-top shirts, grey trousers, suspenders and hats that Michael Jackson would have been proud of.
The menu is quite simple, with roasted chicken as the main attraction, though other items include Lasagna (34LE), Potato Wedges (8LE), or Tropical Salad (18LE) and can work as side dishes.
We started our meal with Shack Salad (28.50LE) as an appetiser, and as our mains, we went with Half Chicken Meal (55LE) and Chicken Cannelloni (27LE).
A mixture of grilled chicken, green apple cubes, corn, bell pepper, pomegranate and mayo dressing, the Shack Salad was an interesting concoction. We loved the tart taste from the green apple which worked well with the pomegranate and the sweet-corn, but the chicken itself was overcooked and very tough.
Now, let's move to what we actually came for: roasted chicken. Served with sautéed vegetables which had a remarkable garlicky flavour and possibly the best spicy basmati rice, which was cooked to perfection and bursting with Mexican spices, the roasted chicken was well-marinated and had a zesty flavour which popped in every single bite. However, the chicken itself was a little bit undercooked but definitely not raw, and even though it was very tasty, the skin wasn’t as crispy as we would've hoped.
We were worried about the ready-to-serve Chicken Cannelloni, but it was surprisingly tasty. Stuffed with chicken and peppers which had flavours similar to fajitas, the cannelloni was well-cooked and had a generous amount of cream parmesan cheese sauce. Sloppy presentation aside, the cannelloni made for a great vehicle for the chicken.
Overall, there was little to complain about at Chick Shack. The venue stands out as one of the healthier fast food places in Cairo; one that also boasts fantastic service, great staff and a friendly atmosphere. The only downside is that there are no desserts to speak of – but with the concept built on a ready-to-serve approach, maybe a soft serve ice cream machine would be a perfect fit. But that’s just us.