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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Fish & FIsher: Abou Shakra's Delivery-Only Seafood Kitchen
When in the mood for seafood, it's a common assumption that Cairo restaurants will never be able to compete with the good stuff that Egypt's coastal city's have to offer. While that is partially true, there are some very decent options right here in the city.
Of these is Abou Shakra's delivery service, Fish & Fisher. We stumbled on their menu while looking for something new we could eat in Maadi. Upon calling, we learnt that this kitchen is only operational in the Maadi branch of Abou Shakra. We had never heard of it before, or of Abou Shakra making seafood, so we thought we would give it a go.
It's not news to anyone that Abou Shakra has deteriorated. Everyone seems to remember it from the 1980's as a high-end restaurant where the rich and famous dined. Whatever the reasons may be, this seafood service may be a chance for it to redeem itself.
So the menu consists of the kinds of fish on offer, plus several methods of prepration and cooking. It also includes set meals that include rice and salads, as well as special seafood dishes that are a little more elaborate.
We wanted to get an all-around sense of the food, so we opted for a Fisher's Net (121LE) which consists of grilled crab, shrimp and sea bream fish. We also ordered a quarter kilo of Mussels (45LE) and an order of Sayadeya Rice (15LE).
The food took just over an hour to deliver, which is the average time for seafood delivery. The food is neatly sealed and packaged to avoid a serious mess.
We dug into the Mussels first; cooked in a broth with garlic, celery, lemons and tomatoes, the Mussels were zesty, juicy and delicious. The soup also went very nicely with the Sayadeya Rice, which itself was moist and cooked perfectly.
The Fisher's Net is where some disappointment lies. The food is relatively tasty, but there's very little of it - there's one grilled crab. It's smaller than the palm of your hand and contains about a single mouthful of meat. There were also three medium sized shrimps, cooked in a soup and garnished with garlic, lemons, tomatoes and celery - these were quite delicious. The Sea Bram - Samak Denis - was about 200g, and could've been better stuffed with marinade.
The only way two people can pay 200LE and get full from this meal is if they weren't very hungry to begin with. Otherwise, it's a hearty meal for one. While some of the expensiveness can be attributed to higher prices on seafood in non-coastal cities, still, we fear Fish & Fisher might suffer the same problems Abou Shakra has been in recent years; far too expensive for just above average quality.
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.