Cairo Restaurants

Maharaja: Indian Authentic Eats in Maadi
Published On: 18/08/2015

Within its ever-growing restaurant scene, Cairo has several eateries offering Indian food; perhaps Maharaja in Maadi, is one of the best we've tried so far, with its savory affordable genuine Indian dishes.     With two other Indian restaurants down the corner including Maharani, Maharaja already faces some serious competition over who's the restaurant serving better authentic tastes. As soon as we stepped into the cozy 6-table lounge, the kitchen was close to the dining room as the smell of spices and cooked food invigorated our nostrils and we felt the aggression of them to the extent that some tears were about to drop from our eyes; yet we could hardly wait to see what's in store for us. Maharaja's ambiance is encouraging a substantial Indian experience; with beautiful elephant picturesque on the walls, an overpowering aroma of spices and songs playing in the background-similar to the ones we hear in Bollywood movie productions on television. The place wasn't crowded there were only three other customers sitting next to us, yet if the restaurant was crowded we wouldn't have felt much comfortable `as all the tables are connected with one large couch. Drowning amidst the names of the dishes, one of the waiters-who was quite friendly and helpful, explained what most of the dishes comprised of, while also recommending Maharaja's signature dishes.  As a starter, we ordered a Tikka Nan (15LE)-traditional Indian bread stuffed with carrot and chicken, and garnished with watercress. The dish was mildly spiced and served with three different sauces; mint, spicy mango chutney and pickled peppers. The Tikka Nan was light, crispy and quite tasty. The sauces were also quite delicious-of which we specially loved the mango chutney sauce with its sweet and chilly taste; only the pickles sauce was too bitter for our taste.    As our main dishes, we opted for a Chicken Korma–curry chicken flavored with clove, cardamom, bay leaves, cauliflower and pepper (40LE) and a Ran Maharaja (60LE) with Vegetanie Biryani rice (35LE). Full of cashew, parsley and garlic the Chicken Korma was moist and spicy and well cooked; apart from two of the pieces which were almost burned and still had bones. The rice had a beautiful appetizing aroma and a great taste-especially when we sprinkled some Masala sauce on it. It wasn't however served on our table, only rather upon our serving request; one of the restaurant's measures to avoid having lots of wasted food.    Served on a small flame, our Ran Maharaja seasoned with Masala-India's signature blend of ground spices, and plopped in old cheese, cream sauce and spices, looked and tasted fantastic. Overall the dish made a nice change to the tomato-based sauces and curries that have to define Indian cuisine outside of its native kitchens. As our dessert, we ordered a Coconut Ice Cream- served in a coconut fruit with peanuts, raisins, cinnamon and a sweet carrot topping (20LE) and we were served two other complimentary ones from the house. The ice cream was quite refreshing; only the coconut fruit left an over sugary taste in our mouths; making it hard for us to gobble most of it. With its music and overall ambiance, Maharaja is a restaurant that brings you the Southern flavors of Asia; it is surely a straight flight to India. The menu has variety of interesting dishes especially for vegetarians who want to try something new. Overall, apart from several overcooked chicken pieces and the small space-inconvenient for those who hate small restaurants, dining at Maharaja was a delightful experience. 

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Yumamia: Revolutionary Online Community Connecting Hungry Cairenes with Home Cooks
Published On: 18/08/2015

The world of food is as prone to following trends and fads as much as anything – none more so than in Cairo. One of said trends, which has existed for the last few years, is the gimmick of home-cooked food. Many a restaurant in Egypt's capital have adopted the label and failed to live up to it; something that revolutionary online service, Yumamia, is making a thing of the past. Connecting cooks and chefs with hungry Cairenes, Yumamia is described as an online home-cooked food sharing community – but it's really much simpler than it sounds. Essentially, Yumamia lets you order home-cooked meals from home cooks across Cairo; you browse, you order, you pay, you eat. Outside of the fact that it has opened up a world of different home-dining options to the city, Yumamia is also proving  to be a valuable resource for amateur chefs, an increasing number of whom already operate exclusively online – be they bakers, caterers or just cooking addicts. As one of the most unique platforms to emerge in Egypt's online community since launching in March of 2014, Yumamia's website even provides cooking and food photography tips for its cooks, who can sign up with few complications. One of the website's biggest accomplishments is how user-friendly it all is. Each cook has his or her own page, which features its menu, working days and other vital titbits and you can fine tune your search with price, type of cuisine and more, including specific dietary requirements. Yumamia currently operates in Cairo and Giza, with its roster of cooks growing by the week. Next on the list is Alexandria – think of all the homemade seafood. For more information, click here.

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Gourmet Fried Chicken: Soul Food Comes to Cairo with Westown Hub Diner
Published On: 11/08/2015

After a more than satisfying experience at Butcher's Burger in Westown Hub, we couldn't help but pay a visit to its partner in crime, Gourmet Fried Chicken. Owned by the same restaurateurs, the two diners sit beside each other, almost meshing into one super restaurant – the two venues are separated only by a thin wall. After being seated, we instantly fell in love with the artwork and the atmosphere of the Gourmet Fried Chicken. Much like Butcher's Burger, wood is the main aesthetic theme, but there are hints of kitsch peppering the place – especially with the tallow minibus prop piece outside. Serving specialties from the soul food kitchen, Gourmet Fried Chicken menu offers American-style eats including Fried Chicken Meal served with Butter Waffles (59LE), Big Mama Special – a platter comprised of three fried chicken pieces – mac and cheese served with corn bread and coleslaw (69LE) and the Soul Food Platter – pairing 3 pieces of fried chicken with gravy sauce, mashed potatoes and a corn on cob (69LE) – as well as many other luscious Southern choices.      Anxious to test the authenticity of this scarce type of cuisine, we opted for Mushroom Gravy Chicken served with butter waffles (59LE) and a GFC Tower – a fried chicken sandwich with toppings including onions, jalapenos, pickles, ranch dressing and served with fries (44LE). Thirty minutes after ordering, our food was arrived and we were keen to try the restaurant's interpretation of a southern American classic pairing of chicken and waffles. For those who haven't tried it before, it's not as peculiar a combination as it sounds – stripped the dish down and you have chicken with cooked batter. Unfortunately, however, the waffles were not stuffed with chicken as stated in the menu, while the chicken and mushroom gravy served on top was sparse. The GFC sandwich was, on the other hand, the definition of a perfect fried chicken sandwich. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly, boasting a crispy exterior and a tender interior, while the sweetness of the coleslaw perfectly balanced the chilly spike from the jalapenos. Of the dessert options, we ordered the Churros (24LE) – a Spanish fried-dough pasty that has its roots in Spain, but has seeped into American south-western cuisine via Latin America.  Golden, crispy and incredibly tasty, there was little to complain about with the simple dessert – which one might compare to the Middle Eastern bala7 el sham – especially with the rich chocolate dip that comes with it. Simple is a key word here; when you break down the food at GFC, it's all very uncomplicated. But what will keep us coming back to the restaurant is that, Mushroom Gravy Chicken aside, it delivers with big flavours. As for the dreaded question of longevity and consistency, GFC is the kind of place that can become a go-to favourite – a valuable trait in Cairo we are, more than most, creatures of habit.

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Ne3na3: Great Look, Great Feel, Disappointing Food at Maadi Restaurant & Cafe
Published On: 02/08/2015

Apart from Zamalek, there are few places in Cairo that are as rich in food and drink as Maadi. Whether restaurant, café or bar, the area is home to some of the finest dining and nightlife experience in the city, which made Ne3na3 all the more underwhelming. Located on the busy, vibrant Road 9, Ne3na3 – which translates to 'mint' – is a restaurant that claims to offer authentic Egyptian food – think classics, like grilled meats, tajines and other homely dishes. As with so many venues across Cairo, this is one place that straddles the line between café and restaurant a little awkwardly, that probably suits the look and feel of a café much more. With a nice outdoorsy area painted in cool neon blue, yellow and green and an indoor non-smoking air-conditioned area decorated with blue shelves and colorful flower pots, Ne3na3's ambiance is quite cheerful, if a little derivative – the balady-chic trend hasn't evolved beyond quirky and kitschy takes on traditional aesthetics over the last few years. As soon as we took our seats, and even before we fully explored the menu, we ordered a lemon-mint smoothie (22LE); now, usually we bemoan the excessive amount of sugar used in drinks of this kind across Cairo, but this one was the polar opposite and in fact was in desperate need of it – the lemon was incredibly bitter and overpowered the mint. Disappointment aside, our enthusiasm peaked as we looked through the menu, eventually settling on a grilled quail platter (70LE). The dish comes in the form of two small quails, both of which were cooked well, but was lacking a bit of flair in the seasoning department, leaving it rather one-note – something that wasn't helped by the dish's sides. The brown rice was slightly undercooked, chalky and had far too many raisins, while the fries were close to raw. Choosing from a variety of traditional desserts – including feteer meshaltet served with Nutella, rice pudding, mehalabeya – we went for a classic crème caramel (22LE) and were left disappointed once more. The dessert was full of air bubbles, suggesting that it wasn't given enough time to sit before being refrigerated. This subsequently made for a dessert that was inconsistent in taste and texture. Overall, we were left split down the middle with Ne3na3;  the atmosphere, décor and staff are delightful, when it came down to the restaurant's main product – the food – we were left disappointed by what were, at the end of the day, rather simple dishes and drinks.

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Win! All You Can Eat Sushi for Two at Conrad Cairo's Kamala
Published On: 30/07/2015

There's no shortage of sushi restaurants in Cairo's increasingly eclectic dining scene these days, but as one of the more expensive cuisines in Egypt's capitals, opportunities to truly binge on the delicacy are few and far between. One restaurant, however, understands that the (sushi) struggle is real and is giving one lucky sushi lover the chance to live out their fishy fantasy… What? Win All-You-Can-Eat sushi for two at Conrad Cairo's stunning Asian restaurant, Kamala! Where? Located inside the Nile-side hotel, Kamala stands as one of the most authentic Asian dining experience in the city, serving up the most exquisite flavours of the Far-East. Why? Because sushi. That's all. How do I get my hands on it? Simple; all you have to do is answer the following question: Which one of Conrad's top restaurants has won a 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards in the International Cuisine category? (Psst...click here for a clue) Now what? Send your answers to freestuff@cairo360.com, with your full name, contact details and 'Kamala Competition' in the subject line. The competition ends at midnight on August 30th 2015; so hurry up and send your answers in! Terms and Conditions apply.

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Café Du Jardin: Kitschy Restaurant Falls Short at Dandy Mega Mall
Published On: 25/07/2015

As one of the first of its kind in Cairo, Dandy Mega Mall might not be the coolest spot in town, but continues to attract shoppers in the area. Smaller than its peers, Dandy isn't exactly a place that suggests decent dining experiences await, but Café Du Jardin certainly has a charm about it. A small bistro with soothing décor, Café Du Jardin is a nice alternative for those who like to step away from the fast food outlets offered at the mall's food court, with its versatile selection of French and European cuisine.      The restaurant boasts has a kitschy aesthetic, painted in mint and white, decorated with artificial plants and white chairs, with small flower pots on the windows in pastel colours – it doesn't quite seem real at first. Among the dishes offered in the restaurant's small menu, tuna and salmon tartar, beef stroganoff and fish fillet with lemon butter sauce stood out. Strangely, the menu didn't feature any soups, but after inquiring with the friendly staff, we found out that seafood soup (22LE) and a mushroom cream (22LE) soup are available – we opted for the latter and had little complaint despite it being unremarkable. Looking for a quick, light bite, we picked Cashew Chicken (60LE), which comprised of stir-fried chicken slices spiked with coloured peppers, coriander and ginger and served with angel hair pasta. We also went for a chicken Caesar salad (40LE). The salad was, in short, disappointing; the chicken was cooked well, the lettuce was fresh and the croutons crunchy, but the dressing was way off - it was far too over-slated and the use of black pepper was rather heavy-handed, too. Hoping for better results with our main course, the cashew chicken was quite tasty; seasoned and cooked well, the only thing it was missing was, well, anything else. It was all a bit one-note and just needed an extra dimension – maybe a side that can break the monotony of what was, overall, a solid if uncreative and flat dish. There was little room left for drinks and dessert, that's when we opted for some refreshing lemon mint juice and orange juice (16LE each), which were refreshing, moderately sweetened and all-round excellent. Of the dessert items, meanwhile, we tried the caramel-banana crepe (32LE). Again, there were few complaints with the dessert – it was cooked well and subsequently tasted as you'd expect – but, like the rest of our meal, there was nothing that stood out and elevated it and it desperately needed it. In this particular case, the caramel was dying out for something sharp, maybe acidic, to cut through it. With all this in mind, one can't help but think Café Du Jardin has focused more on creating a cute, quaint aesthetic than putting together a menu that will keep you wanting to come back for more. Having seen and sampled their menu, we left with very little reason to return.

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Butcher's Burger: The Basics Done Well at Westown Hub Branch of Burger Restaurant Chain
Published On: 20/07/2015

We don't really understand the correlation between summertime and junk food, but it seems like our cravings for all things sinful are heightened during the hotter months in Cairo. The concept of gourmet burgers continues to be trendy on the fad-loving Cairo dining scene and Butcher's Burger's increasing popularity has seen it open another branch in 6th of October City's Westown Hub. The medium-sized restaurant offer both indoor and outdoor seating and is hard to miss in the food-court thanks in-part to the yellow mini-bus prop in the outdoor area. Carrying its usual relaxed, kitschy, steakhouse vibe, our waiter dropped by with menus as soon as we were seated. Offering the usual goldmine of burger variations, the menu stays true to the joint's signatures. The Milano Burger (54LE), which features mozzarella cheese and pesto sauce as toppings, as well as the Hawaiian Burger (52LE), which features pineapple and Teriyaki sauce, definitely caught our watchful eyes. Ultimately, though, we decided to go for classics, opting for The Mighty Butcher (77LE) and the Butcher's Mushroom Burger (54LE). Our order, as promised, arrived within 20 minutes. Both burgers came with a side of French fries, which were a bit too scarce for our liking, as well as a small serving of Coleslaw. The Mighty Butcher, which consisted of a 300g medium-well grilled beef patty as requested, topped with cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, beef bacon, garlic-mayo and caramelised onions, was everything you need it to be: filling, delicious and oh-so-satisfying. The Butcher's Mushroom Burger was smaller than the former, yet still filling, with grilled mushrooms topping its well-done beef patty, alongside onion rings, as requested and no Swiss cheese as per our wishes. Both patties tasted fresh and were seasoned well, while the toppings and sauces made for good, trusty combinations. All in all, from the immaculateness of the place, to the friendliness of the waiters ,to the accuracy when it comes to the orders to the mouth-watering burgers, the Westown Hub branch of Butcher's Burger was almost faultless. We would have, however, preferred our fries, which were oh-so-crisp, to have been offered in a more generous portion.

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Sequoia : Top-Notch Fetar Buffet at Nile-Side Zamalek Favourite
Published On: 13/07/2015

It's always hard to maintain food and service quality during the rush of Ramadan, but Sequoia is one of the few restaurants in Cairo that has pulled it off with its fetar buffet (250LE per person). As one of the most uniquely located venues in Egypt, sitting at the tip of Zamalek, Sequoia knows how to make a fuss for Ramadan, but this year's decor is decidedly simpler than that of 2014. Possibly a vague reference to star consolations, geometric shapes are the theme of Ramadan 2015's aesthetic – and it works. The hard, sharp lines of the wire-frame lighting fixtures would provide an interesting contrast with Sequoia woody-and-green aesthetic, but for the giant, ads that surround the space – the red is visually disruptive and just plain aggravating. After being seated in our assigned table, the waiters gave us the sign that it was time to fill our plates before sunset. Four stretches of food stand in the middle of venue, two of which are full of nothing but salad. The evening's food and drink didn't get off to the best start, however. After filling our plates, we sat down to break our fast with some Tamarind and Amar El-Din, the former of which lacked flavour and was too watery. Thankfully, the Amar El-Din fared much better and was the perfect combination of sweetness and that very distinct concentrated apricot flavour. Then it was time for some chicken cream soup, which proved to be tasty, balanced and a perfect opener. Meanwhile, coleslaw, baba ghanoug, yoghurt salad and tuna salad were amongst the very many salads, dips and sides that we tried, with all proving extremely fresh. As for what we might call main courses, there was plenty; grilled meat, cold meats, pastas, mahshy, mombar and molokheya with chicken were just a few of the foods on offer. The pasta station can be overwhelming for some – oh so many options – but we were more than please with our penne arrabiata; the sauce was thick and lush, while the shredded onions added a pleasant zing to the dish. Sequoia's sambousak has quite the reputation and we're pleased to report that it didn't fall short of it. The creamy cheese sambousak in particular was delicious, with the addition of nigella seeds adding an extra touch. We also tried the fillet fish, which was cut into finger-length pieces, and presented in a mound of brown rice. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, the fish was cooked and seasoned perfectly, if unspectacular. No Ramadan feast would be complete without mahshy and Sequoia's rice-stuffed vegetable delights were full of flavour and kept well – no messy mahshy for us. Here's what's really strange about the whole experience, however; somehow, someway, we found room for dessert – don't judge us. Aside from the usual – konafa, basboosa, Om Ali and other traditional goodies – the buffet's dessert offerings included various chocolate cakes, fruit salad and even profiteroles. The latter were the standout item, though; excellently baked, the fresh cream centre and melted chocolate top-coating were a perfect ending to an outstanding evening of Ramadan dining.

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Abou El Sid: Maadi Branch of Egyptian Dining Giant Disappoints with Chaotic Ramadan Fetar
Published On: 05/07/2015

Abou El Sid has established itself amongst the greats when talking about authentic Egyptian cuisine in Cairo. With branches all over the city and beyond, we were excited to see what special fetar program they had to offer this Ramadan, so we headed on over to the Maadi branch with high hopes and empty stomachs. We arrived thirty minutes before Fetar, as was required, even though we had placed our orders over the phone earlier that morning. The outdoor area was quiet and quaint in the light of the setting sun, with stern-faced waiters gathered around the door getting ready for what seemed to be a Battle Royale Fetar to end all fetars. But this quiet proved to be the calm before the storm; staff members wearing every colour uniform imaginable were running around in circles trying to get everything ready in the minutes before the call to prayer. Right before Fetar, we were offered the restaurant's Ramadan drink selection and opted for karkade (Hibiscus) and amar el din (Apricot) (18LE each). The karkade was tart and refreshing – not too sweet like what many venues tend to offer. The amar el din, meanwhile, is an acquired taste at the best of times and lacked the classic apricot taste and sweetness. As for the soup and appetisers, they all suffered one fatal flaw: they were cold. In the fetar rush, the show-runners at Abou El Sid neglected that, though setting down the starters a full ten minutes before fetar is time efficient, it isn't very enjoyable for the guests. The Chicken Orzo soup (22LE) tasted quite nice, but other than its temperature, its lack of chicken was disappointing. For appetisers, we had Lamb kofta (42LE), kobeba (36LE) and stuffed vine leaves (28LE) with baba ghanoug and cucumber yoghurt salad (15LE each). There isn't much to say about both the kofta and the kobeba – they were both cold, dry and overall unappetising. The Vine Leaves fared better – without being spectacular – especially when paired with the cucumber yoghurt which, like the baba ghanoug, tasted pleasantly homemade. For our main course, we chose the Veal Chunk Tajin (68LE) and the Circassian Chicken (62LE).  The tajin was delectable and perfectly cooked, with the rich and inviting veal served in a bed of equally delicious vermicelli. The Circassian Chicken was a different story, however. The classic walnut sauce was clumpy and hardly enough for the bed of bland rice that lied beneath it. Though the chicken itself was good, the dish as a whole was a letdown. After we finished eating, we became uncomfortably aware of how loud and chaotic the surroundings were. With waiters shouting orders, big groups of people and electric fans that did more to irritate than to keep us cool, it was only the nostalgic sounds of Om Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez that maintained any trace of atmosphere. Pondering the idea of dessert, we were a bit confused as to who to ask for the menu – there seemed to be new faces and uniforms every couple of minutes. After asking for the menu three times, we discovered that, to get anything done, we had to ask the, assumed, Head Waiter, and after finally getting a hold of him, he took his sweet time with it. We'd almost forgotten about dessert when they set down the Om Ali and Mohalabeya (25LE each). The Om Ali, though pleasantly warm, had no milk, which was quite unfortunate, because it actually tasted good. The Mohalabeya on the other hand, was heavenly with delicate vanilla flavours and roasted nuts sprinkled on top. Overall, we were disappointed and left wishing for a do-over. The evening's execution had not gone as planned and the food and the overall atmosphere had suffered. From the chaos of service, to the mess-ups with the food, it was a poor reflection of a giant in the dining scene.

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La Gourmandise: Four Stars for Four Seasons at the First Residence's Ramadan Tent
Published On: 01/07/2015

The Four Seasons at the First Residence's annual kheima, La Gourmandise, is, without a doubt, one of the grandest Ramadan experiences available in Cairo this year. While many Ramadan tents have embraced a kitschier, and occasionally, whimsical side to the month, La Gourmandise has stayed faithful to the casual-chic approach that has made it so popular. Having enjoyed fetar there last year, we were eager to test the mettle of a formula that hasn't changed all that much for its 2015 set-up. This year, the price per person for the tent's open buffet menu is 320LE++, which roughly reaches 400LE per person with service and tax. Although one of the more expensive offers of its kind, the tent's popularity hasn't waned – we recommend that you make reservations a day earlier, while we were also told that larger groups are required to pay a deposit. Arriving a good hour before fetar, a quiet hush washed over the space inside the First Mall, lead by the sophisticatedly simple decor characterised by airy, white  fabric draped from the centre to the edges to take the shape of a tent, all bathed in surprisingly tasteful pink lighting. Adding to the hushed anticipation of breaking our fast were the staff, who were both professional and friendly as they made sure everything was prepped. In between their sharp, efficient back-and-forth, we were offered the standard Ramadan drinks – sobia (sweet milk with coconut, amar el din (peach nectar with rose water) or erkesous (liquorice). Heading into the buffet, which is located in the centre of the tent on a stage of sorts, we were immediately met by the smell of soup – we had to make the tough choice between duck or mushroom. We chose the latter, which provided a good, soft first eat/slurp of the day. Said smells only bettered one other; the molokheya station in action, as the assigned chef prepared the 'taqliya' – an integral part of any molokheya that sees garlic lightly fried in olive oil, salt and pepper. Overall, the buffet offered several well-executed varieties, especially in the way of meat and poultry, while became rather fond of the versatile food stations, including the Shawerma and pasta stations, the latter of which offered an excellent range of sauces. Amongst all of that, however, the food that jumped out the most wasn't the perfectly homely mahshi, the succulent shish tawouk, or even the juicy kofta – it was, in fact, a deliciously crisp olive and tomato bread, which we unashamedly take responsibility for finishing that night. Unfortunately, the buffet was lacking in the salad department, but what it lacked in greens, it more than made up in desserts, with both traditional Egyptian desserts – think konafa, etc – and more contemporary ones – think mini-cheesecake, etc – available. Overall, we were left with few complaints; the food was good, the atmosphere was pleasantly unpretentious and, if you can forget the fact that you're essentially sitting in the middle of a mall, you might well find yourself staying for post-fetar shisha and tea. 

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Cairo Weekend Guide: The Harry Potter Experience, Electro Shaabi Music Night and More!

Hello Cairo, It's almost back to school time and before worrying about how the school rush may get to your heard, seize the weekend and chill in some of the city's non-stop nightlife entertainment; where Thursday sees Shady Ahmed playing his cozy acoustic tracks over at Cairo Jazz Club followed by l