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Sheikh Zayed, Cairo, Egypt.
Hyper1: 6th of October Hypermarket Offers Cheaper Groceries
What’s in a name? In the case of 6th of October’s hypermarket Hyper1; everything. Extremely overzealous (we may even call them hyper) customers in Cairo get really excited about buying nearly anything imaginable– from groceries to furniture– under one roof. Hyper1 represents Egypt’s love of consumerism in full force.
Before you even finish crossing the massive parking lot to make your way into the gigantic building of groceries, furniture, clothes and more; there is already an opportunity to spend your hard-earned cash. An ice cream shop and to-go crêpe stand sit in front of the grand entrance. And since we all know that we are never the types to pass on free food, the sample tray of fresh balah el sham is constantly being refilled to whet our appetites before shopping inside.
The first floor of Hyper1 houses an incredible amount of groceries and cleaning supplies. Everything from brillo pads in bulk to every scent of Dettol ever made is available and priced cheaper than at most of Cairo’s supermarkets. Across the board, prices are a few pounds cheaper on each product. Aisles upon aisles on the first floor feature canned vegetables, dried legumes and pasta, as well as snack foods, baking products and dairy. Hyper1 also has a bakery, a butcher and a huge spice centre.
On the second floor, accessed by a rather horrifying automatic escalator; toiletries and make-up, linens and towels, clothing, power tools and home appliances are found. The second floor is a bit more overwhelming because of this hotchpotch of merchandise. The linen section of Hyper1 is rather small and the quality of sheets wasn’t amazing, but a large selection of soft, fluffy and colourful towels was available, with good quality bath towels priced at about 35LE.
A large section of the hypermarket is devoted to kitchen appliances with a variety of price ranges on dishware, glasses and silverware. As always seems to be the case, it is nearly impossible to find a decent kitchen knife; but other cooking utensils are abundant.
In the walkway of the second floor, a selection of indoor and outdoor furniture is available to those looking to furnish homes on the cheap. To keep children from going too crazy by running up and down the aisles of the store, a play centre for kids is available; though it's not entirely effective at wearing out all the little ones.
If all this shopping has left you a little spent, there are numerous options for a quick pick-me-up before your drive home, including Pizza Hut, Hardees, Costa Coffee and Cilantro.
We can all agree that cooking is not everyone’s cup of tea, despite the fact that making a homemade meal is actually quite easy. But busy work schedules or just general cluelessness when it comes to the kitchen, means that many end up ordering food. Yesterday was one of those days where we just wanted to chill at home and we found out about the frozen food masters, Food Swings.
Food Swings is a one-of-a-kind delivery-based operation providing homemade, frozen food that is either microwaveable, or ready for the fryer, oven, or even the sandwich-maker. The meals can be stored for up to 3 months and to most take between 10 to 30 minutes to heat – something we just had to try. You can make orders via phone or Facebook messaging, with Food Swings delivering to different areas of Cairo on different days – check out the schedule here.
We found only 8 choices from the ‘Frozen on Duty’ section of the menu and 4 types of pizza from the ‘Pizza Madness’ section. However, there was a lot of interesting choices like Mexican Hawawshy (54LE) and Shawerma Pizza (49LE) but we decided to go with the Risotto Balls (32LE) as an appetiser, and as our mains, we opted for the Large Lasagna (98LE) and the Mexican Chicken Wraps (41LE).
We were super impressed by how cheerful the packaging was, the clear instructions and the use of vacuum packing, as removing the oxygen extends the life span of food and keep it fresh, while also making it much easier to store in your freezer at home.
The risotto balls - all 17 of them – were filled with a good amount of cheese and the risotto itself was rich and creamy, while still retaining a small bite to it like any perfect al-dente risotto should be. As for the crust, it was well-seasoned with Italian spices and had a perfect golden-brown colour – although that’s something we’ll take credit for.
Due to technical issues with our oven - which reminded us to buy a new one - we decided use the microwave for the lasagne. Despite this, the layers of the smooth and creamy béchamel sauce mixed with cheese, well-seasoned beef Bolognese bursting with tomato flavour, and of course their homemade lasagne sheets, left us wondering, what kind of sorcery they used to make frozen food taste so fresh?
Just so we’re clear, we didn’t burn the Mexican chicken wraps; what you see up there are beautiful grill marks. There were 5 wraps to be defrosted in the microwave then heated in a sandwich maker. While the mixture of chicken, red pepper, corn, red beans, green onions, spinach, chilli-pepper and shredded cheddar cheese, looks great on paper, we didn’t feel the presence of cheese at all and the chilli-pepper was just overpowered by the other flavours.
We finished our meal with Cinnamon Caramel Roll Jar (22LE) and no, it’s not microwaveable and we didn’t have to put it in the sandwich maker – this comes readymade. Soft layers of cinnamon rolls are topped with luscious salted caramel sauce, pastry cream and a generous amount of pecans. This dessert would’ve been flawless if they left the pastry cream out, as it was bland in taste and didn’t really belong with the cinnamon and caramel.
Overall, Food Swings is an incredibly practical option and the experience itself is actually pretty fun. The order came on time, the online responses are quick and professional and it’s a great concept that will save time and effort for newlyweds, working moms, or bachelors. It's certainly better than most frozen foods found in supermarkets, but if you're looking something more than that, the variety might dissapoint.