Cairo Restaurants Guide - Restaurants reviews in Egypt

Cairo Restaurants

Chili's: New Menu, Same Problems at Tex-Mex Specialist
Published On: 20/09/2016

Chili's isn't as popular in Cairo as it once was and for the past few years the chain has been going through a rough time in terms of quality. However, the words 'new menu' got us rather excited to revisit the Mohandiseen branch with high hopes for what was once the best Tex-Mex restaurant in Egypt. Usually when Chili's announce a new menu, it contains 4-8 items for a limited time, but this one is set for good. From Southwest Chicken Soup (20LE) and Tableside Guacamole (45LE), to Ancho Salmon (170LE) and Avocado Sirloin (150LE), there are new items is in almost every single section – besides the desserts - on the menu. We started our meal with White Spinach Queso (40LE) as an appetiser. Served with tostada chips and fresh salsa, the dish had rich flavours from the Monterey jack and white cheeses that were complemented by the lighter spinach, pico de gallo and chopped cilantro, while the occasional heat from the diced jalapeno in the guacamole was great. Besides the slightly lumpy consistency, the white spinach queso had a well-balanced flavours and it's perfect to share with a group The hype was very much real for the mains after the fantastic appetiser, as we kicked things off with Smoked Chicken Quesadillas (58LE). Supposedly, the flour tortillas are filled with house-smoked chicken, sautéed red and green bell pepper, caramelised onion, melted Monterey jack cheese and jalapeno aioli sauce – but that's far from what we were served. Aside from the no-show of the red bell pepper and jalapeno aioli sauce, the chicken was just plain grilled and not smoked as promised, while the presentation was sloppy and the tortillas were tough, making this dish a complete disaster. It didn't get much better with the second main, the Sweet & Smoky Burger (66LE). The patty was super dry, chewy and flavourless, the pepper jack cheese wasn't melted and the supposedly mango-infused BBQ sauce lacked flavour and was watery, making the bun very soggy. We thought things couldn't get any worse, but the Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos (70LE) proved us wrong. The dish sees three tortillas filled with a mixture cilantro slaw, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and grilled spicy chilli-lime shrimp. Besides the fact that the shrimp was bland in taste, overcooked and chewy, the horrible cut of the avocado – is this an avocado or a cantaloupe? – and the shrimp-to-toppings ratio was way off and made us feel like we're eating a taco salad. Despite the strong start, our experience at Chili's might well be our worst to-date. Despite the initial enthusiasm of finding so many new items, the carelessly presented food, the stream of cooking and service errors and the number of missing ingredients made for a woeful introduction to the new menu.

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10 Mind-Blowing Appetisers That Will Make You Forget About Your Main Course
Published On: 19/09/2016

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.

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Ayadina: Point 90 Mall of Lebanese Restaurant Disappoints
Published On: 19/09/2016

Levant cuisine has spread in Cairo at a rapid rate in the past few years, with the additions of many restaurants specialising in Lebanese and Syrian cuisine. Ayadina is one such restaurant; specialising in the food of Lebanon – to be more specific – has opened four different branches across Cairo, boasting a unique design and colour scheme that always stands out compared to the surrounding venues. Their new venue at Point 90 Mall in New Cairo is no different, with the dominating colours of purple, turquoise, pink and green in all of its furniture gave it a playful and relaxing feel, as we took our seats inside. We opted for the Hommos (24LE), Vine Leaves (26LE) and Toumeyah (22 LE) as our cold mezzas, and the Sambousak mix (34 LE), and the sausage with pomegranate dip (44 LE) from the hot mezzas. We also tried the Chicken Fattah (75 LE), Grilled meat (Kebab) (95 LE), and Shish Tawook (75 LE) for our main dishes, while also opting for the Special Cocktail (25LE), and the – Lebanese house special – Jallab (26LE) to wash everything down. Thirty minutes later – and after reminding the waiter of our order – the mezzas arrived alongside a bread basket with three fresh loafs of Lebanese bread. The toumeyah - a garlic dip – was well balanced, proving to be less sour than most restaurants do it and provided a good back drop once the Sambousaks were dipped in it, which came as two meat, two spinach and two cheese. The spinach ones had a slightly sour aftertaste, as did the cheese ones, which were shaped like spring-rolls rather than traditional Sambousak. As for the beef, it had the an earthy flavour and was very well seasoned. Having a zesty fresh taste, the vine leaves were flavourful and fully stuffed and held themselves together well once sliced into, making it one of the highlights of the meal. The Hommos had a great smooth texture with a rich flavour, meanwhile, contrasting the sweet and sour taste of the sausage, which had a juicy interior as it sponged in the pomegranate sauce, wrapping up a great start to our meal. Even though it's a main dish, the Fattah arrived with the appetisers; served in a small metallic bowl with toumeyah, chicken and small pieces of bell peppers and bread. The rice had an almost overpowering cardamom aftertaste, which almost ruined the whole plate. However, the toumeyah had the same rich flavour as the aforementioned, while cubed chicken pieces were large, well seasoned and worked well with the accompanying pieces of bread which gave a satisfying crunch. Almost another thirty minutes later, the rest of our main dishes finally arrived. The shish tawook and grilled beef came as six to ten small pieces with a garlic or tahini dip, alongside two pieces of potato wedges. The shish tawook needed to be grilled a bit more as, although they were tender, they barely had any grill marks while having a pinkish hue to them. Somehow, they were also a bit dry, but this time, the toumeyah lacked a bit in seasoning. As for the grilled beef, it was a bit chewy and had a gamey flavour, and generally lacked anything to make it special or memorable. As for the accompanying potato wedges they were barely cooked and were hard to slice into and – again – lacked any seasoning to which we had to add salt, pepper, and toumeya to give it an extra flavour. Finally our drinks arrived in tall glasses; the Jallab, which is made from a mix between carob, rose water, crushed ice and topped with pine nuts and almond slices, had a refreshing overall flavour, with the flavour of the carob playing off the sweet aromatic taste of the rosewater nicely. The Special Cocktail, meanwhile, was a mix of mango, orange, banana and pomegranate grenadine. While having an overall fruity flavour, the mango dominated, with the pomegranate and orange giving a slightly tangy aftertaste; however, the banana was nowhere to be found. In the end there was a lot going for Ayadina, however cracks were shown in the staff and kitchen's performance under the pressure of a busy evening, resulting in an occasionally unpleasant and somewhat underwhelming experience at a restaurant we have come to expect more from.

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Pasta Citta: New Branch, Same Great Food
Published On: 18/09/2016

Location is one of the most important aspects of any restaurant – it can make or break a venue, especially in a city like Cairo that keeps expanding outwards. It's as simple as this: if it's too far or hidden away, it simply doesn't get exposure and it's something that has been the death of many a restaurant. Pasta Citta is one such restaurant which had that exact problem. With its first branch located in Beverly Hills, you're unlikely to have ever encountered it unless you were going there specifically for it. Its second venue, however, is in a prime location nearby at Rivulet, situated between Galleria40 and Capital Business Park. The venue boasts a large outdoor area with simple metal seats covered with matching yellow or black cushions, which contrasted to the more modern look of the indoor dining area which had more comfortable grey and yellow seats with black round tables and chequered floors with an industrial ceiling of exposed air conditioning ducts and lighting wires. As we took our seats outside, we opted for the Fried Potatoes Platter (37LE) as our appetiser, while ordering the Beef Lasagne (52LE), Cordon Bleu (85LE) and Beef Stroganoff (115 LE) as our main dishes. The fried potatoes platter came as a medium-sized pot filled with French fries and sweet potato fries, with a small bowl of honey mustard for some extra flavour. Beautifully presented, the fries were great with an external crunch and tender centre; they were well seasoned with a herby aftertaste which worked well with the honey mustard. The Sweet potato fries, meanwhile, provided the perfect contrast to the savoury fries with a sweet aftertaste that also mixed well the honey mustard giving the sweeter side and extra punch to make the dish a well-balanced one. Soon our main dishes started to arrive; served in a white rectangular bowl, the beef lasagne was a bit under-seasoned, but was still flavourful with a golden well-cooked top. It was easy to slice into, revealing the internal layers of the lasagne drenched with salsa and minced beef, all working together to form a tasty dish with one delightful bite after the other. Exploding with aromas, the beef stroganoff came in a sizzling hot skillet; the sautéed beef strips were dripping with sauce and small pieces of mushrooms and onions, alongside a large white plate which had the rice and mashed potatoes as sides and a small gravy boat. The beef itself was bursting with flavour in every bite with a generous amount of sauce which was by far the highlight of the evening. As for the sides, the rice was really overcooked as was melded into one big piece like sticky Chinese rice while also bland. The mashed potatoes, meanwhile, were great with a smooth texture that already had a great flavour and was given that extra kick from the gravy. Coming in a large white plate, the cordon bleu came in a capsule-like shaped piece, cut in half alongside white rice and mashed potatoes and gravy. Unfortunately, it had been burnt, with an almost burnt black outer shell. It was quickly taken by the staff and we received a new one with the golden brown exterior we were waiting for. The cordon bleu had a crumbly exterior shell, which fell apart as soon as we sliced into it, while the tender interior was stuffed with mozzarella and smoked turkey, every ingredient had powerful flavours that were balanced perfectly; the strong mozzarella taste hits first, smoothing the way for the chicken while keeping the turkey as a delightful aftertaste. In the end, we had very little to complain about at Pasta Citta, with its new location putting it at the very entrance of Rivulet providing traffic and exposure. What it does with that spot is provide a great, comfortable seating area, attentive staff and good food; they also offer shisha for people looking for a nice, quiet place to enjoy with their friends.

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Gaby's: A Masterclass of Casual Dining at New Cairo's Point 90 Mall
Published On: 17/09/2016

Though 6 of October City residents might disagree, New Cairo is proving to be a hub of dining, with new restaurants, cafes and bars opening monthly, one of the latest of which is Gaby's, who has opened a new branch at Point 90. With an outdoor area filled with the chain's trademarked wooden chairs giving a club feel, the indoor area takes things up a notch with armchairs and sofas, as well as exposed air-conditioning ducts and interestingly designed lights. After taking our place inside, we opted for the Bits & Dips platter (110LE) as our appetiser and the Chateubriand (270LE) and Chicken Portobello Roll (95LE) for our main dishes. Arriving a few minutes later, a complimentary bread basket was served, with freshly baked bread and bread sticks, with a crunchy exterior and spongy interior accompanied with a small bowl of feta cheese which was a good contrast and gave the bread some flavour. About twenty minutes later, our appetiser arrived in a large rectangular white plate filled with two large servings of nachos, three sausage samosas, four spicy Buffalo wings, three crispy bonbons, three mussels topping some potato salad and a small bowl of sour cream – yes, it's a lot. We decided to start with the messy Buffalo wings which were bursting with flavour, with a mild spiciness to it, which only gave the chicken an extra kick; afterwards we dove into the sausage samosas which had a satisfying crunchy exterior with an Oriental sausage stuffing which had a grainy texture with a flavourful Oriental spiciness. Moving on to the crispy bonbons – fried bonbons stuffed with cheese and spinach, with what almost seemed like a cornflakes exterior instead of regular breading giving a yellowish colour. The fight for flavour dominance was intense as the cheese could only be found as an aftertaste while the cornflakes taste was so dominant, overpowering the spinach and potatoes at times. Unfortunately the mussels were bland and didn't have much to offer compared to the rest of the plate which if removed, its absence would go unnoticed. The potato salad was a bit bland as well, though well-cooked, pushing us to add a little salt and pepper to add a little seasoning. The nachos were heavily seasoned and topped with some pico de gallo, and had a an overpowering flavour due to the excessive powdered seasoning which could only be toned down with the sour cream which created a balance of flavours and calm it down a bit. Moving onto the mains, the Chateubriand came as two tenderloin fillets topped with a grape sauce with small slices of grapes, alongside basmati rice. The fillets had an earthy taste, with the grape sauce offering a great backdrop with its mildly sweet and sour aftertaste to contrast the dryness of the well-done grilled fillet, while the basmati rice was cooked perfectly, once again working well with the grape sauce to make it a well-rounded dish. The Chicken Portobello Rolls, meanwhile, were four small chicken rolls stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, topped by pepper sauce with a side of mashed potatoes and broccoli. Slicing into the four rolls, three were well cooked, while one had a pinkish hue; prompting us to leave it aside. Taste-wise, the flavours were intense and, again, earthy, thanks to the Portobello mushrooms. The mashed potatoes were smooth, but a bit under-seasoned. After a largely excellent meal, we opted for the Nutella Feteer (70 LE) for dessert. Arriving moments later on a wooden serving board, the Nutella feteer was rectangular and drenched with Nutella and cut into sections, each topped with something different – slices of apple, kiwi, banana, and finally a ball of vanilla ice-cream. The chosen fruits were well selected as each offered a different flavour to contrast the Nutella, with the apples offering the sweet side, the kiwi sour, the bananas creamy and the ice-cream a light, smooth aftertaste to the heavy Nutella. The feteer itself was light and easy to slice into. So what of our experience at Gaby's? Casual sophistication, top quality food and friendly staff – we couldn't ask for more.

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6 Cairo Restaurants That Do Fantastic 'Fatta' and 'Rokak' Dishes
Published On: 10/09/2016

There's nothing quite like a classic, home-cooked Egyptian meal, especially during an occasion. With Eid Al-Adha all but here, it's the kind of holiday whose traditions are tied up with food – yes, we're talking about Fatta and Rokak. Granted, those to particular dishes are best eaten at a family dining table amongst more relatives than you realised you had, but the aura of the Egyptian kitchen can be found across Cairo's restaurant scene, which is why we've put together a list of eateries that not only serve genuine Egyptian food all year round, but also guarantee an exceptional home-style Eid dining experience this week. Al Khal With authentically homemade food, Al Khal is considered one of the top Oriental restaurants in Egypt's capital. Located inside the InterContinental CitystarsHotel, Al Khal's scrumptious festive food includes Rokak Bel Lahma (meat) ( 35LE), Fatta with veal knuckles (115LE) and Fatta with lamb shanks - the true definition of family-style Eid experience. Abou El Sid A hefty meal that might leave you feeling a little drowsy afterwards is what Abou El Sid promises to deliver. Just make sure you try out their Fatta with kawarea tajin (76LE) made a la the Abou El Sid. Sikh Mashwi Following classical Egyptian recipes in all of their dishes, Sikh Mashwi offers a true Egyptian culinary experience on the Agouza Corniche. It might not be located in the trendiest areas, but their Rokak with meat (34LE) is as good as it gets. Om Hassan Boasting various Fatta dishes – from Fatta Tajin (19.75LE) and Fatta with kawarea (79.5LE) to Fatta with lamb (99.75LE) and Fatta with pan-fried meat (79.50LE) – Om Hassan also serves juicy and crispy Rokak with minced meat (49.75LE) ensuring some typically gluttonous Eid dining. Casino El Hamam Another restaurant offering a relaxing Eid experience by the Nile, Casino Hamam is known for its signature dishes such as grilled pigeon (80LE), Molokheya with chicken (50LE) and of course the most sought after Eid platter of all, Veal Fatta (65LE) and Fatta with kawarea (60LE). Zitouni Adding a Lebanese restaurant to this list might seem like sacrilege for some, but located inside Four Seasons Nile Plaza in Garden City, Zitouni offers some toothsome Egyptian dishes, too. It's one of the more expensive options, but it's generously portioned Egyptian Fattah with lamp (145LE) is well-executed and worth every penny. Happy Eid!

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Truvo: A Typical Case of Quantity Over Quality at Heliopolis Restaurant
Published On: 07/09/2016

Quantity definitely doesn't mean quality and it's sometimes hard to find that balance in a restaurant that attempts to offer variety, while retaining a high level of quality. Located in Heliopolis, Truvo has done well to achieve an edgy look, with large, bold letters at the main entrance and modern-styled wooden chairs cushioned with grey fabric etched with their own design in white and shades of grey. The venue boasted a 'U' shaped terrace that was almost – aside of two tables – completely packed with guests at the time of our visit, while the indoor dining area was almost completely empty – so we decided to take our seats inside. Serving what you would call international cuisine, the menu is filled with well-known dishes like cordon bleu, as well as lesser-known ones like the Fillet Diane; so we decided to be adventurous and ordered the Truvo appetiser (40LE), and the Chicken house (63LE) and Fillet Diane (92LE) as our main dishes, with the Mix Berry (25LE) and Mango Milkshake (26LE). Thirty minutes later, the appetiser arrived along with our drinks; the Truvo appetiser came as two fried mushrooms, two chicken strips, two mozzarella sticks, four fried cheese balls and four spring rolls alongside three sauces; honey mustard, thousand island and barbeque sauce. With a mix of everything, the mozzarella sticks had a satisfying crunch and a melted cheesy interior, however that's where 'the good' ends and 'the bad' begins; the chicken strips had a breading that crumbled completely as we sliced into them and the cheese balls were too salty. The spring rolls, meanwhile, were too oily; two of them were stuffed with beef, while the other two had vegetables which turned brown and had an oily aftertaste. The biggest issue we had, however, was with the undercooked, unseasoned fried mushrooms, which, not only tasted awful, but had a crumbled exterior and served with the toothpicks still in them. As for our drinks, the mango milkshake had potential with a great, refreshing mango taste which was unfortunately watered down, while the mix berry had a mix of strawberries, blueberry and milk, with the strawberry being the dominant flavour; the milk was almost non-existent and a only a hint of a blueberry aftertaste could be detected. A few moments later, the main dishes arrived; the Chicken House was a large piece of fried chicken topped with melted mozzarella, small pieces of mushroom and garlic and served with white rice and mashed potatoes. The chicken itself had a crumbly exterior – yet again – that could easily be detached from the tender chicken interior as we sliced into it, the melted mozzarella worked well with the fried chicken giving it some much needed flavour, albeit making it very dry. The mashed potatoes were bland, lumpy, undercooked and cold, while the rice –which was Egyptian white rice – on the other hand, was well cooked, but lacked seasoning and was a bit dry. Moving on to the Fillet Diane, the beef fillet was smothered with a rich and creamy mushroom and mustard sauce with small pieces of mushroom and came with a side of penne pasta topped by white alfredo sauce and cheese shavings. Cooked well done, the beef had an earthy flavour that worked well with the sauce with a great mustard aftertaste that gave it that extra punch it so desperately needed. A bit undercooked, the pasta lacked sauce which made us use the sauce from the fillet to compensate for it, which was a bit disappointing – and 'disappointing' summed up the visit. The quality of the food, and the experience in general, went downhill from the appetisers onwards, it seemed that, in providing a lot of options in their menu, Truvo can't match it with quality.

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Maharaja: Ramses Hilton's Indian Restaurant Proves it's One of the Best
Published On: 06/09/2016

With the cuisine of Italy and China among the dominant across the Cairo dining scene, restaurants taking on more niche cuisines often find it difficult to shine in Egypt's capital – like Indian food. With less than ten Indian restaurants in all of Egypt, there aren't exactly many options, making our visit to Maharaja all the more enticing. Located inside Hilton Ramses Hotel in Downtown Cairo, Maharaja has a very simple and plain interior design, but with a noticeable touch of wood. With random Indian statues distributed around the space, Indian fabrics and the paintings on the wall, alongside non-stop Indian music, we felt like the ambiance was more of an Indian wannabe – it was just a little too much. However, the service and the staff created a one-of-a-kind ambiance of their own during our visit, showing a genuine love and care for the restaurant and its food. Checking out the menu, and mispronouncing the names of all the dishes, we received a plate of mango chutney, pickled lemon and minty yogurt sauce, with two pieces of scrumptious "Indian falafel" as the waiter said. Nothing beats Syrian falafel though. We kicked things off with a Bhajias (60LE) as an appetiser. Served with mint yogurt dip, Bahjias is a mix of vegetables – green bell pepper, onion, potato, and green chilli pepper – and Maharaja's homemade cottage cheese, dipped in chickpea batter to be fried. The batter itself had a fantastic soft texture with a crispy exterior which worked perfectly with the fresh flavours of the veggies. As for the cottage cheese, it had a stiff texture, close to mozzarella, and surprisingly had more flavour than the usual bland cottage cheese you'd find in supermarkets. The best part of any Indian meal has to be Naan bread, of which we ordered the butter & garlic versions (28LE). Cooked in a tandoor oven – which is located inside a visible glass room – the buttery naan had perfectly crispy edges and that perfect chewiness to it, but the garlic flavour on the other was hardly noticeable. Moving to the mains, we ordered the Kozahi Chettinadu (115LE) and Chicken Jalafrezi (105LE), with the former coming as super-tender, boneless chicken curry marinated with green chilli and fennel seeds and then simmered in coconut milk. Despite the weak coconut milk flavour, we loved the consistency of the sauce and the overall flavour, but we expected bolder flavours – which the Chicken Jalafrezi definitely had. Cooked in a piquant tomato sauce with garlic, onion, capsicum, and cubes of fresh ginger, it was easily our favourite savoury dish, with the occasional ginger pop from the random cubes complimenting the bold tomato flavour. Alongside the curries, we ordered a side of Nimbu Chawal rice (45LE). Served in a wooden tube, it was incredibly light and fluffy, boasting a great lemony flavour, fresh coriander and peanuts, which added a great occasional crunch. We finished our meal with a Kpmali Naashpathi (50LE) – a traditional chocolate cake filled with chocolate frosting and topped with a saffron-poached pear. Served with two scoops of a to-die-for cinnamon ice cream, the Kpmali Naashpathi was a flawless dessert and worth a second visit alone. The saffron gave the Pear a beautiful yellow colour, as well as light, sweet and earthy flavours that worked perfectly with ice cream. It may not be the most highly-thought of hotel in Cairo, with many pointing to its crowded, noisy location as a turn-off; but in Maharaja, Ramses Hilton has an excellent restaurant that, despite the missteps during our visit, brings together the wholesome comfort of Indian food together with the kind of sophistication you'd expect from the hotel, all sprinkled with some fantastic service.

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Balady Gourmet: Alexandria Follows the High-End Street Food Trend
Published On: 05/09/2016

As any local will tell you, Alexandria has always got a lot of flak when compared to Cairo, where everything from nightlife to shopping was usually light years behind the capital. Today, Egypt's second largest city has come a long way in catching up with Cairo via its designer brand malls, hipster coffee shops and kale smoothies. A new addition to the slowly growing dining scene is Balady Gourmet; a Smouha dine-in and takeaway restaurant that serves a chicer take on traditional dishes like foul, bamia and eggs with basterma. While it's inevitable to make comparisons with Cairo-based brands like Zooba, Cairo Kitchen or Balady, this is the first place in Alexandria where you can take your mum, friends or visiting tourists without worrying about stray cats, food poisoning or general ghetto-ness (we're looking at you, Zizo El Neten and Abdo Talawoth!). Located on a busy street in Smouha, central Alexandria, Balady Gourmet bravely offers outdoor dining for smokers and indoors for non-smokers. The cute décor is a mixture of Tunisian and Moroccan influences, with some ethnic Egyptian rugs and patterns thrown in for good measure. While parking on the street is impossible (the Smouha-based winsh police are notorious), we recommend you opt for the parking garage on the right side of the shop. Despite us showing up just before midnight and 45 minutes before closing time, the restaurant's staff were attentive and quick in their service, and another table nearby was filled with enthusiastic eaters. As the restaurant is still in its 'soft opening' phase, we were told that the menu could change based on customer feedback, and the staff were very keen to note our opinions on the dishes. Our orders of lemon gourmet salad (7LE) and coleslaw (6LE) arrived promptly with a large basket of steaming, baked white fino bread – the kind you'd get at Samakmak or any other quality fish restaurant. The heat of the bread mixed really well with the acidity of the grated and pickled lemon mixed with carrot, while the coleslaw was surprisingly refreshing and light due to being made without mayonnaise. All that light food was immediately forgotten when our mains of basterma with cheese (20LE), Alexandrian liver (17LE) and mixed Sogo' with cheese (21LE) arrived. The portions were so large and the food so heavy that they could have easily fed three people rather than two; this is the kind of food you'd want for sohour, after a long night out or as a breakfast of champions. The basterma with cheese was appropriately gooey and reminiscent of Alban Sewesra's gooiness, but just too salty, so we washed it down with some excellent lemon juice with mint. And while the Alexandrian liver could have had more sauce, the sausage cheese plate was insanely delicious; we kept lapping it up despite being full to the point of exploding. We'd definitely go back for that sausage dish, and we were told that the hawawshi and grilled chicken are also to die for. Our eight items came to a total of around 100LE, which isn't bad at all for such a feast. And while we're sure we'll hear the usual complaints about foul being overpriced when it costs 1LE at Mohamed Ahmed or off any foul cart, you're getting better hygiene, quality and ambience at Balady Gourmet. In fact, Balady Gourmet is the type of place you should drag a Cairene to, just to prove them wrong about Alexandrian dining. Photos: Balady Gourmet/Facebook

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Bab El-Sharq: Lobster-Stuffed Pigeon & Oriental Deliciousness at The Nile Ritz-Carlton
Published On: 05/09/2016

Many a restaurant in Cairo has tried to separate itself from the crowd by thinking out of the box and serving unusual culinary creations. The sky is obviously the limit in the modern kitchen, but just when we thought we'd seen everything, Bab El-Sharq comes along with its Lobster-Stuffed Pigeon. Located inside The Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Bab El-Sharq has already made a name for itself for outstanding grilled and wood-fired dishes. As a venue, it's a simple and chic outdoor restaurant that has different types of seating, complimented with live entertainment and an astonishing view of the Egyptian Museum and a spacious garden. We started our meal with Maria Ghanam (60LE) as an appetiser. Fresh bread is stuffed with a mixture of minced beef, pepper, onion and pine nuts, before being grilled. As a much cooler mash-up of hawawshi or the Lebanese arayes, the bread was soft with crispy edges, the mixture was perfectly seasoned, and the occasional crunch from the pine nuts was great. After a flawless start from the appetiser, we expected the same from the mains. Starting with the flavourful Shish Tawouk (155LE), it was served with classic homemade French fries, fluffy basmati rice, and tomeya (garlic dip) and tehina. The shish tawouk itself was marinated well and grilled to perfection – a classic dish executed perfectly. But let's get to the main event of the evening – the Lobster-stuffed Pigeon (240LE). It's a little more complex than its name suggest; it's also stuffed with lemon-infused rice that perfectly complimented the lobster tail, with the pigeon itself acting as a perfect vessel for the combination. The dish was also served with a cumin-tinted side of rice that was bursting with flavours and a to-die-for molokheya. On paper, the combination of pigeon and lobster doesn't really add up and we were expecting a disaster – but we'll put our hands up this time and happily admit that we were oh so wrong. We finished our meal with everyone's favourite mother, Om Ali (55LE). The classic combination of puff pastry soaked in sweetened milk and mixed with a generous amount of nuts had exquisite flavours and a spot-on amount of sugar, but was more suited to those who prefer the Om Ali with a lot of milk. All in all, there was little to complain about at the time of our visit to Bab El-Sharq. The food was well executed and the ambiance was perfect for a relaxing meal – what else could you ask for?

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