Sign in using your account with
Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Le Kabab: Lebanese Delivery in Korba
In Cairo there are two main types of takeout restaurants: the mass-produced and the one-of-a-kind hits. Lebanese restaurant Le Kabab has joined the list of one-of-a-kinds.
Located in Heliopolis’ picturesque Korba neighbourhood, this small, independent Lebanese grill joint is the only place that you can go to for that particular taste of imported Antabli kofta wrapped in fresh, roasted bread and laced with pepper, nutmeg and chilli. This is Beirut street food. Unlike other take-away restaurants that claim to be authentic but are Egyptianised versions of international cuisine whatever, this is the real deal. It has not succumbed to that time-tested Cairene motto of 'We know better.' Rather, it finally brings us a Lebanese food outlet without the infamous Shawerma stand.
Instead, they have the makanek sandwich: bright, brick-red, tiny sausages exploding with palate-tickling spices and surrounded by the colourful whites, reds and greens of onions, tomatoes and peppers. There is almost a Jamie Oliver feel to the way that the vegetables are chopped and sliced imperfectly, which gives the food less of a corporate, mass-produced feel and more of an independent personality. This sandwich is highly recommended and must be tried even if just out of curiosity.
Also available are Orfali kofta and tawouk sandwiches, which are rich yet not too heavy partners in delicious crime. Like most Middle Eastern cuisine, Le Kabab is not vegetarian-friendly with little innovation or variety on salads. However, you get the full range of meat platters and sandwiches such as kabab, kofta, tawouk, burgers, sogo’, and special homemade basterma.
Mention must be made about the way that the food is delivered too, which is part of the eating ritual. Le Kabab sends its food-ware neatly packaged and labelled. You know which sandwich is which and it arrives thankfully without the oily paper wrappings.
Overall, prices are reasonable. You can order eight sandwiches and a salad for less than 130LE. Even better, Le Kabab offers the option of ordering raw marinated kabab to be cooked at home to your liking. What could be more convenient?
There’s a general rule on the Cairo restaurant scene that suggests when a restaurant opens a second branch, it affects the overall quality of the original, so we were rather worried when we paid the new branch of Hayda a visit.
Recently opened at Galleria Moon Valley Mall in New Cairo, the interior uses the same famous chairs, pink and turquoise colour scheme, posters of Lebanese stars on the walls, and white Islamic patterns, but on a smaller scale. The venue has two separated indoor areas; the first one has only four tables and a linear table-set-up that looks like an open buffet, while the second is more spacious and has a lot more seats.
We kicked things off with Sambosek Spinach (35LE); four pieces of triangular pastry filled with spinach and walnuts. The pastry had a great crispy crust and a soft interior and the spinach was perfectly seasoned and had a terrific zesty kick to it, while the walnuts added a great crunchy component.
Moving to the mains, we opted first for the Kofta Azmeer (80LE), which came as three pieces of grilled meatballs stuffed with mushrooms and served in a huge bowl filled with tomato sauce and then sprinkled with parsley and cheese. Despite its appeal, the dish was just very disappointing. Served with rice topped with a scarce amount of toasted nuts, the meatballs themselves were very dry, the mushroom centre was very similar to the canned variety and was completely untreated which made the meatballs feel tougher and drier. Meanwhile, there was far too much tomato sauce, which was bland, while the cheese didn’t really add anything.
On the other hand, the Sausage Fatteh (65LE) was considerably better, though not perfect. The sausage itself was seasoned well and had a great texture and the rice was cooked perfectly; but the bread at the bottom was a bit soggy and the fatteh was topped with tahini not yogurt sauce as promised on the menu. Overall though, it was pretty good.
We finished our meal with Konafah Naboulsy (50LE) with Nutella and Bananas. It wasn’t our first time to try Hayda’s outstanding Konafah Naboulsy and thankfully it had the same crispy crunch, the same stretchy cheese and the same spot-on sweetness, but with the addition of the Nutella, which made for a good match with the fruity, fresh bananas. But although those two ingredients worked together, we felt it was a bit too much with the cheese. These kinds of desserts are usually a hit with diners, but it wasn;t exactly the most innovative of combinations – the chocolate, banana and cheese just never came together as a trio.
This summed up our visit at Hayda’s new branch perfectly – it had its ups and downs. We loved the service and the cosy ambiance, but it’s definitely not as striking as the Nile-side Giza branch and, at the time of our visit, there were several issues with the food.