Cairo Restaurants

Zo Asian Restaurant: Asian Restaurant's Hit-and-Miss Cairo Festival City Branch
Published On: 18/01/2015

Our love for the eclectic flavours of the Asian cuisine is limitless. With a combination of bold, spicy, sweet and sour ingredients, Asian dishes are ones we always look forward to. Hoping to refresh our taste buds, we headed to Zo's second branch in the New Cairo's Cairo Festival City Mall. Situated in the fountain area, amidst a handful of other restaurants, Zo is almost unrecognisable due to the lack of any bright sign signalling its presence, unlike it's Zamalek branch on 26th of July Street. It is, however, sharing the venue with another well-established chain-Makani. The venue is neither spacious nor constricting, with modestly-sized indoor and outdoor seating areas. We chose to sit outdoors, given the fact that our waiter offered us a table with its own heater. Zo's menu, which was instantly laid before us alongside the Makani menu, offers Asian dishes from China, Thailand and Korea. From spring rolls, soups, noodles, fried rice, curry, chicken-based, beef-based, as well as seafood dishes, the menu has an abundance of savoury items to choose from. The dessert section is, however, is quite limited with only cinnamon-smothered sweet potatoes (22LE) and ice cream-topped fried bananas (28LE) on offer. Our server swiftly came by to take our orders and was, both pleasant and helpful, aiding us in picking our desired dishes from the confusing choices offered in the menu. We ended up opting for the Crispy Bags (18.50LE), Sweet & Sour Chicken (480LE), Spicy & Sour Chicken (48 LE), Fried Rice with Chicken (22 LE) and Chinese Beef Noodles (40LE). a good thirty-five minutes later,  the Crispy Bags arrived and definitely looked the part. Consisting of mixed vegetable and tiny chicken chunks enveloped in crispy pastry accompanied by a sweet Thai chilli dip, it was an exquisite start to the meal. The main courses, all without an exception, came in rather smaller-than-expected portions. Fried chicken chunks on a bed of mixed vegetables drenched in a deliciously sweet and sour sauce pretty much sums up the Sweet & Sour Chicken, which we thought was bursting with flavour and cooked to perfection. The Spicy & Sour Chicken, served on the same bed of mixed vegetables, didn't fare as well, tasting just a bit too spicy for our liking. The Fried Rice was probably the most disappointing part of the night, tasting bland and lacking an ample amount of chicken. The Chinese Beef Noodles, on the other hand, had a generous portion of beef chunks and mushrooms interweaved within well-spiced noodles, making it the highlight of our main courses. Overall, Zo is the kind of hit-or-miss restaurant which simultaneously offers either mouth-watering dishes that you savour every bite of, or tremendously disappointing ones. Both, however, will come in rather small portions. Notably, the service, was quite stellar, disregarding the semi-long wait we had to endure for the food's arrival.

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Hadramout El Horreya: Small Yemeni Restaurant in Maadi
Published On: 17/01/2015

There's a copycat phenomena in Egypt when it comes to restaurants. Where the origin comes from is unknown, but for some absurd reason, half the shawerma vendors in Egypt are called Abu Mazen, and the other half are called Abu-insert random male name here. Shawerma isn't the only type of food that suffers from this phenomenon, Mandi, the Yemeni equivalent of Fatta, made from chicken or lamb suspended in a special kind of oven and served with rice, is originally from the Yemeni city of Hadramout, and so it has been doomed for the rest of existence that any restaurant ever to serve Mandi in Egypt will call itself Hadramout-even though Mandi is also common in Sana'a, but whatever. In Maadi, one of the many replicas is called Hadramout El Horreya, located near El Horreya Square. The menus in these restaurants are identical, there are chicken, lamb and ties options and they can be cooked either with the Mandi method-steaming the meat and rice with spices, nuts, and fruits- or the regular grilled method called Mazbi. The restaurants themselves are usually either take-out or offer a very unimpressive dine-in experience. This was no exception; the small venue is decorated with unsettling pink wallpaper. We opted for a Half Mandi Chicken (27LE) and Kabsa with Meat (52LE). Serving time was rather slow, but seeing as how it's slow cooked food, we weren't bothered. The seasoning usually gives Chicken Mandi a pinkish hue, so if you're trying Mandi for the first time, don't be alarmed. The problem wasn't the colour but rather the flavour, or lack thereof. The tasty yellow basmati rice lacked any dried fruit or nuts, which was disappointing, but it was served with a spicy mixture of tomatoes, pepper and onions (think pico de gallo put in a blender) that gives the rice a whole new dimension of flavour. The Meat Kabsa was a different story, made with flavorsome lamb meat that when cooked slowly takes away the chewiness of lamb that most find unappealing. The meat ended up tender and bursting with flavour, while the basmati rice with the kabsa featured raisins and the same spicy tomato mixture. All in all, the experience was decent food wise, but unimpressive dining wise. The staff is friendly but no amount of good service can make up for an unpleasant venue. The prices, on the other hand, are very affordable which makes a decent meal of real food a reality in a region of Cairo that focuses more on exotic and quirky cuisines. They also offer to cook lamb, turkey and ties for you, as is customary with all the other Hadramouts.

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Mr Wok: Asian Takeout Still Thriving in Zamalek
Published On: 14/01/2015

Asian street food has never been common in Cairo's dining scene, with the food-in-a-box concept certainly standing out amongst the more formal options. Sitting amidst the hustle and bustle on Zamalek's busy 26th of July Street, Mr.Wok has – against all odds – stood tall several years now. The venue is quite small and only accommodates the kitchen and staff. Relying on the concept of takeout, only a couple of basic metal tables and chairs can be found outside on the street. Technically, the menu covers several Asian cuisines including Japanese, Chinese and Thai. You can either opt for the ready-to-go meals or get a bit more creative and mix and match the noodles or rice with your choice of protein, veggies and sauce. There's also a rarely mentioned appetisers section, from which we opted for Spring Rolls (3LE/piece) from, before assembling our own noodle dishes. Starting with the Longevity Chinese Noodles with fresh veggies (28LE) as a base, we added Chicken breast (10LE) and Bangkok Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce for our first dish. For the second, we used Udon Japanese Noodles with fresh veggies (35LE) as a base and topped it with Beef (10LE) and Ossaka Sweet Teriyaki Sauce. The theatrics put on by the wok chef certainly add a nice touch to the experience. The food was ready after a mere fifteen-minute wait, packaged in cleverly designed boxes that retained the heat and the sauce. The Spring Rolls – with a significant outer crunch that packed fresh ginger flavoured veggies – were paired very well with a sweet and enjoyable sauce. With aromas swirling and the heat of the kitchen spilling out onto the street, the disappointment of opening the box and realising that it's only half full was a hard pill to swallow. This is made all the more disappointing when you factor in the prices – 38LE and 45LE. Despite that, both meals were perfectly seasoned with complex authentic Asian spices and had generous amounts of steaming hot sauce that enriched the flavour. The longevity noodles are the traditional thick Chinese egg noodles, accompanied by thin strips of chicken, cabbage and carrots, all smothered in an incredible Thai sweet chilli sauce. The Udon noodles, meanwhile, were much thinner with good quality slices of beef drenched in the perfect Teriyaki Sauce. All in all Mr. Wok will amply satisfy any Asian fast food cravings. While there's not much to the venue itself and the prices are steep in comparison to quantity, the flavoursome and saucy noodles could very well leave you hooked.

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Shawermer: One of Maadi's Top Shawerma Chains
Published On: 13/01/2015

Egypt has experienced a serious influx of Syrian cuisine over the last couple of years. But the biggest cultural export we seem to have taken from the Levant is Shawerma, so we decided to stop by a shawerma joint that's been around since before a shawerma joint opened up on every corner. Shawermer, opposite the Grand Mall in Maadi, has the same flashy black, red and yellow colours the other branches do. The interior area is relatively small, with two rows on either side where you can dine in, and most of the space is taken up by the kitchen and the vertical spits. The menu has seen two small additions since Shawermer first opened, the Sogo' Shawerma and Hot Dog Shawerma, both of which don't sound particularly appealing, so we stuck to the classics everyone else is likely to order. Without further hassle we decided we wanted Chicken Shawerma combo (25LE) and a Kabab Shawerma (14LE). Presented in white Styrofoam boxes, the Shawerma comes with a plastic box of pickled cucumbers and thomiya/tehina. The Chicken Shawerma is just as good as it used to be, with just the right amount of charring on the chicken to give it a bit of flavour and texture. Combined with the toasted saj bread, thomiya and pickled cucumbers, the Chicken Shawerma was a definite success. The Kabab Shawerma was just as satisfying, featuring Iranian Kabab, which we know in Egypt as Kofta, but with a slight difference in seasoning, the rest of the sandwich features parsley, tomatoes and tehina, similar to a regular meat shawerma. The Kabab was juicy and very flavourful and the side of french fries is actually surprisingly above average, retaining an excellent crunch on the outside and a soft fluffy inside. Shawermer is a pleasant experience. When it first opened its doors, the prices were above average, which always made you consider why it was so much more expensive than the average shawerma, but now, as everything else's prices have increased while Shawermer has stayed pretty much the same, it scores much better on value for money. The service is quick and efficient while the restaurant itself is relatively clean. The dine-in experience, however, isn't one you'll come back for.

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Chubby Yankees: Bland American Diner in Zamalek
Published On: 12/01/2015

There are many reasons to fall in love with American cuisine. For many, it's one of the first international cuisines that made its way to Egypt in the 80's, while for others it's the fact that it brings together flavours from other cultures and cuisines. But for most, there's just something so appealing about how heart - and occasionally greasy - it is. This has made American diners and fast food joints the most common type of restaurant to be found around Cairo. Chubby Yankees on Aziz Abaza St. in Zamalek is the latest addition to that long list. Far from the traffic, Chubby Yankees is located in an area void of other shops or restaurants. Consisting of two floors, the first floor holds combinations of wooden chairs and high tables that can hold four people, plus an LCD screen, while the top floor has two seating areas separated by a wooden couch. Across from the counter is a bar seating area that overlooks the street, which is a much better view considering how depressing the decor is. Black paint and red brick walls make up the interior, which is monotonous and incredibly dull. An attempt to salvage this with black and white wallpaper does little. We went up to the second floor where we saw four people. We assumed they're the ones who worked here since there was no one downstairs. The menu was a small piece of paper that comprised of eight items, none of which were labelled with a price. From the appetisers we ordered Chicken Strips (25LE) which are supposedly served with a dip of our choosing. What we received was 6 pieces of chicken in a foil plate with four packets of ketchup and tomato slices. While the strips were cooked well, the layer of batter fell apart quite easily, and the chicken had no hint of seasoning. After the chef recommended the Thousand Island dressing, we found it to be just as bland as the chicken. For our mains, we tried an American classic; Mac and Cheese (17LE). Unfortunately, it was just pasta with white sauce in disguise. We thought maybe it would have more cheese than usual in it, but there was nothing discernible to set it apart from anywhere else. The Tacos (27LE) were probably the highlight of the night, but that's hardly an accomplishment. The only thing that sets it apart from the appetiser dish is the tortilla bread and lettuce. We did, however, enjoy the plate made from two large tacos and the french fries. The service wasn't much better than the food; staff were hard to find, and we had to call for them through the stairwell to place an order. While the prices at Chubby Yankees certainly aren't as high as other diners or fast food joints, the quality of food is barely worth any money at all.

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Win! Dinner for Two at Kempinski Nile Hotel's Osmanly
Published On: 11/01/2015

Cairo's dining scene is as eclectic and varied as it gets. That doesn't necessarily speak for quality, mind you, but there are no shortage of options, be it local Egyptian cuisine, Lebanese or Italian, but to name a few. One type of cuisine that is criminally under-represented is that of Turkey. It's a peculiar absence when you consider the similarities between it and Egyptian foods. There exists one restaurant, however, that serves up Turkish dishes wrapped in the grandeur and dining experience it deserves – the Kempinski Nile Hotel's Osmanly. As one of the most consistently highly-rated restaurants on Cairo 360, the Turkish eatery is nothing short of a marvel and takes the idea of feasting like a Sultan rather seriously. To celebrate the beginning of the new year, the good food-loving folk at the Kempinski are giving Cairo 360 readers the chance to sample the delights of Turkish food for themselves. What? Win a lavish, no-holds-barred dinner for two at Osmanly! Where? Located high up in the Kempinski Nile Hotel, Osmanly boasts a stunning view of the Nile and an ever-so kitschy take on traditional Turkish decor. Why? Because as the only truly authentic Turkish restaurant in Cairo, it's a must-try for all of the city's foodies. How do I get my hands on it? It's all very easy; just answer the below question: From which infamous empire does Osmanly take both its name and its dishes? (Pssst – clues are here). Now what? Send your answers to freestuff@cairo360.com, with your full name, contact details and 'Osmanly Competition' in the subject line. The competition ends at midnight on Sunday 8th of February 2015; so hurry up and send your answers in! Terms and Conditions apply.

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Lan Yuan: Great Value for Money at No-Frills Chinese Restaurant in Maadi
Published On: 11/01/2015

With no short supply of competition, Road 9 in Maadi is one of the more difficult locations for a restaurant to flourish. This is partly because rent is very expensive, but also because whatever the cuisine, there's almost certainly another restaurant that serves it. Lan Yuan has been around in Maadi for quite some time now. With Chinese food in Egypt usually costing more than it should, Lan Yuan favors quality of food and value for money over any sort of dining 'experience'. To reiterate, Lan Yuan is located no more than five metres from the metro, which shakes the entire building. The restaurant can only be described as being a no-frills venue, with no ambiance whatsoever thanks to cheap old décor and rather tacky furniture. While we've seen such unimpressive atmospheres break other restaurants, Lan Yuan seems un-phased, so it must be something about the food. After diving into the paper menus, we didn't see anything that stood out as remarkably different, so we went for some Asian classics. From the appetisers we opted for an order of Fried Won Tons (11LE) and an order of Chicken Satay (23.75LE). From the mains, an order of Sliced Beef in Oyster Sauce (45LE) and Crispy Chicken in Brown Sauce (45LE), with an additional sides of Fried Rice with Eggs and Vegetables (13LE) and Fried Noodles with Vegetables (17.99LE). With an average serving time, the appetisers came first. The Won Tons were surprisingly large and fried to a great crisp. The Chicken Satay, while tender and juicy, was strongly flavoured with curry, which took us by surprise. The Beef in Oyster Sauce was a different ball game. Served with chopped vegetables and a delicious oyster sauce, the beef wasn't as tender as you'd expect, but it worked in the dish's favour. Complimented by the fluffy fried rice, it was a generous and hearty meal. Similarly with the generous portion of Crispy Chicken, topped with our favourite sauce of the night - the brown sauce - it was complimented greatly by the noodles, which albeit a little unevenly dry, made for another excellent meal. The real surprise at Lan Yuan isn't just the food that's so immensely better than the venue, it's also the prices that you get your food at. Currently offering a 12% discount, our check was just over 150LE, which gives Lan Yuan an excellent score on value for money.

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Bros: American Diner in New Cairo's Concord Plaza Mall
Published On: 10/01/2015

Egyptians and American cuisine are a match made in food heaven; we simply can't get enough of all the burger chains and American diners that keep popping up in every corner of Cairo. The latest one to grace our humble streets is Bros, with its first and currently only branch located in the quickly booming New Cairo area. The diner-inspired eatery offers two floors of indoor seating, enveloped in an almost cliché Southern American diner theme. The black and yellow seats seemed to slightly clash with seemingly out-of-place brick walls, though various pop culture decorations - Nirvana and Beatles posters, Harley Davidson plaques et al - add an interesting touch. The minute we walked in, we were greeted by a swift waiter who took us straight to an already set table and instantly placed our menus before us. The menu offered everything we expected; soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta dishes, steaks and an array of dessert options. There's also a special breakfast menu, consisting mainly of egg options, as well as pancakes and French toast. Feeling like feisty burgers and a hearty dessert, we went for the Texas Burger (57LE) and the Route 66 Burger (53LE), as well as the Bros Brownie Pie (30LE). Our waiter took our order and seemed to return back with our eye-popping dishes just a few minutes later. What we found rather peculiar, however, was the fact that our waiter didn't ask how we wanted our burger patties cooked. The burgers were, to simply put it, unbelievably huge and came with two sides of French fries and pickles. They were both mouth-watering, with the only pet peeve being that we found the bread buns to be a little too thick and the burger patties to be way too thin in comparison. The onion rings in the Texas Burger, however, were quite sumptuous and elevated the overall taste of the burger. The French fries were deliciously crisp and the pickles, although coming in smaller portion, were also quite tasty. The Bros Brownie Pie also came in a more than adequate portion, with the brownie itself tasting just-out-of-the-oven fresh. The chocolate sauce drizzled all over it was quite decadent as well. We, however, found the ice cream scoop to be a bit too small in comparison to the brownie. All in all, Bros is entering Cairo's already packed league of American-inspired eateries, yet seems to hold its own thanks to its adequate service and sufficient quality of its food. We feel, however, that a few tweaks can be made in the proportions of some of the items. 

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Yam Yen: Hidden Thai Diner in Maadi
Published On: 08/01/2015

Asian cuisine seems to be on the rise in Cairo, and luckily for us, we're huge fans of anything from-the-wok. One of the lesser known restaurants in Maadi is Yam Yen. Maadi is no stranger to Thai cuisine, with several options to choose from should you be in the mood to eat with chopsticks, but this particular restaurant has one thing most of the others don't; a good venue. With a nicely landscaped garden area featuring a fountain, wooden archways and bamboo decorations, Yam Yen is a break from the overly stereotypical decorations found across all Asian restaurants-including Indian. The interior features dim yellow lighting contrasted against dark wooden furniture, and dining areas are divided using opaque glass panels with metalwork. We were seated indoors by a pleasant waiter and handed our menus. Featuring all the regular appetizers as well as some interesting soup options, the main courses feature red and green curries, as well as building your own stir-fried shrimp, fish, chicken, beef or vegetables main course from the wok in a sauce of your choosing. We opted for the Tom Kha Chicken Soup (34LE) alongside Shrimp with Sweet Basil and Chili sauce (59LE) and Beef with Oyster Sauce (54LE). For the sides, we opted for a Vegetable Pad Thai (39LE), Stir-Fried Egg Noodles (39LE) and an order of Vegetable Fried Rice (19LE). The food took a little longer than average to serve, but the soup was definitely worth the wait. Wonderfully bursting with coconut milk flavour, the Tom Kha soup, featuring pieces of tender chicken, galangal, lemon, mushroom and coriander, was the highlight of the night. We tried different combinations of rice, noodles and pad thai with the main courses, but we found the Stir-Fried Noodles to be the weakest and most lacking in the flavour department. While the Beef in Oyster Sauce was tasty, the portion was relatively small. The Shrimp was even smaller, consisting of exactly four pieces of shrimp in a sea of carrots and bell peppers. Both their sauces were interesting, but there just wasn't enough of either to enjoy it for very long. The Pad Thai was probably the tastiest, aside from the soup, featuring bean sprouts and peanuts in good non-overpowering amounts. The Fried Rice, topped with eggs and vegetables, was also quite filling and better than the average side of steamed rice. The problem with Yam Yen isn't the quality of food, it's how little of it you get for so much money. The venue is clean and the service decent, but with the sides costing almost the same as the main courses, expect to either leave it hungry, or pay a hefty amount.  

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Kokio Chicken: Hidden Korean Fried Chicken Restaurant in Maadi
Published On: 05/01/2015

On the hunt for food, our expeditions have led us everywhere from narrow side roads to five-star hotels. How delicious the food is doesn't necessarily have to correlate with how expensive it is in Egypt, and sometimes the hunt to find a hidden gem is the biggest part of the fun. We had heard rumors about a new Korean restaurant in Maadi whose entire menu consists of fried chicken options. Try, as we did, to find any sort of listing of this restaurant over the internet or yellow pages, however, and you'll almost believe that it doesn't really exist. After a few phone calls to the friends who told us about it, we set out on foot to Roads 218/231, the general area where you find Subway, Stavolta and Tabla Luna. It took us thirty minutes to find Kokio Chicken, and we're from Maadi, so believe us when we tell you, you will never come across this restaurant by accident. It's actually on an obscure corner just behind the Metro Supermarket on Road 232. The venue is very modest in size, with bright pistachio green walls and modern looking decoration that doesn't look or feel very Korean. There was one Korean family eating there at the time, which is always a comforting sign. As expected, the menu featured three main items, whole chicken/half chicken, chicken strips, and chicken wings, all within the 80-140LE range depending on the full or half portion. Additionally, there are sides of homemade fries, sweet potato fries and cabbage. The sauces include spicy, soy fried, onion fried, and spring onion. We opted for 20 piece Strips (140LE) and 10 piece Soy Fried Wings (80LE) alongside two orders of Homemade Fries (30LE). While the prices do sound expensive, the portions are enormous. The plain strips were fried extremely well, retaining a tender and juicy inside, and incredibly crunchy outside. Similarly, the Soy Fried Wings were fried just as well, but were even tastier thanks to the Soy in the batter of the generously sized wings. The Homemade Fries, unfortunately, didn't fare up to the rest of the food, with little crisp on the outside to balance their thick cut. All in all, we found the restaurant to be very clean and needed minimal service, we only saw one waiter, who was more than enough for the size of the restaurant, especially given that only two tables were occupied. The food was delicious, albeit a tad too expensive, but the overall experience was great.

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Cairo Weekend Guide: Live Music, New Party Series & New Art

Hello Cairo! A three-day weekend beckons and the gods have gifted us with warmer weather. If ever there was a time to shake off the inevitable temptation of weekend idleness, it's now. Although, staying in bed and watching something on a laptop is also pretty sweet, actually. Whatever the case, ther