We're not sure about you, but we can't help but find a certain joy in ordering (and then very quickly devouring) appetisers on our very many explorations of Cairo's dining scene – so much so that we're often stuffed by the time we get to the mains. But we soldier on – it's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.
We're not here to push the value of sharing food with friends – no, forget other people. It's dog-eat-dog kind of dining world out there. These ten appetisers are so good, so delicious and so utterly addictive that you needn't order mains or any of that malarkey. Happy eating, folks.
1. Crispy Shandong Vegetables @ Peking
Vegetables aren't the first thing you'd look for on a Chinese menu, but the tempura batter and the Asian seasoning five Peking's Crispy Shandong Vegetables (13LE) a deliciously light and sweet airy crust, not to mention a delicious spicy kick. We wouldn't mind eating our greens everyday if it's going to be like that.
2. Crab & Shrimp Salad @ Mori Sushi
Not unlike the above, a salad, again, isn't the first thing you look for at a sushi restaurant. But not when it's the Crab and Shrimp Salad (58LE) from Mori Sushi; a mixture of shredded cucumber, carrot, crab, shrimps and glass noodles drizzled with a hint of mayo for richness. It's a fantastic starter alongside some sashimi or some fried spicy lemon rolls and new style Philadelphia rolls.
3. Skillet Queso @ Chili's
While the triple dipper occupies one full page of the Chili's menu and both the Classic Chicken Nachos and the Eggrolls are the poster boys, we found a Southern treasure called the Skillet Queso (40LE). Imagine a swimming pool full of cheese with just the right amount of beef chilli, served with tostada chips and salsa.
4. Chilli Nacho Rolls @ TGI Fridays
The likes of fried mozzarella and Buffalo wings are the headliners of the appetisers at TGI Fridays; but what if we told you that one of the menu's newcomers is just as good? A chilli rolled in tortilla bread infused with cheese, fresh herbs and served with some corn pico de galo, the Chili Nacho Rolls from TGI Fridays is a simple and flavourful appetiser. It's so good, in fact, that we finally forgave them for removing Jalapeno Poppers from the menu.
5. Makanek with Potatoe & Pomegranate Dip @ Tamara Lebanese Bistro
From pomegranate molasses vine leaves to pomegranate molasses shawerma; we all know that pomegranate molasses is the red velvet of savoury food. However, there are few better uses of it in Cairo than that of the makanek with potatoes and pomegranate dip (50LE) from Tamara. The tanginess of the pomegranate molasses complements the sweetness of the sausage. Give the fried kebbah and sambousak a break and try the divine makanek instead.
6. Chicken Bonbons @ Crave
Crave's Shrimp Kunafa is among the best in the city and is a must at every visit, but there's always room for more appetisers and the Chicken Bonbons (37LE) are outstanding. Bringing together Crave's special diced chicken and vegetables, all stuffed in a crispy bag andserved with sweet chilli and soya sauce. Think of it as cooler, new-age version of spring rolls.
7. Mac & Cheese Balls @ Ted's
There are few foods that aren't deep-fried these days – from deep-fried Oreos, to deep-fried burgers. Most of them will make you sit up and go, 'huh?', but Ted's has managed to concieve exquisite deep fried Mac & Cheese Balls (36LE) that actually make sense. A crispy crust on the outside and a delightful marinara sauce on the side, Ted's Mac & Cheese Balls, are, well you need yo try them for yourself – because, sometimes, words just aren't enough.
8. Shrimp & Artichoke Dip @ Romano's Macaroni Grill
It's not the coolest restaurant in town, but the folk at Romano's Macaroni Grill certainly know their appetisers. Their Shrimp & Artichoke Dip (53LE) combines cream cheese, spinach, artichokes and shrimp for a phenomenal dish made, made all the more perfect with a serving of their toasted focaccia bread. For the love of cheese, give it a try.
9. Cheddar Chili Chicken Flautas @ Backfire
Backfire's burgers were all the rage when it opened at the end of 2015, but before you try out their delicious patties, we recommend that you give their Cheddar Chili Chicken Flautas a try. Just close your eyes and imagine a mix of cheddar cheese, jalapenos, minced chicken and sausage, all rolled in tortilla bread and deep fried. Enough said.
10. Sweet Potato Fries @ Mince
When it comes to burgers, everyone just go with some classic French fries; but –other than the popular chilli cheese fries – the homemade Sweet Potato Fries (15LE) from Mince is one starter-come-side that will take your burger experience to the next level. Sweet, flavourful and crunchy, what more could we ask for? Who knew one could get so passionate about bataata?
Happy eating, everyone.