Ne3na3a: New Shisha Cafe Opens up in Zamalek
49 Abou El Feda St.
Shisha smoking in Cairo has evolved from back-street ahwas into a contemporary, almost modish commodity. In the perfect location to attract the attention of the sophisticated Sequoia and Left Bank crowds, Ne3na3a on Abou El Feda Street in Zamalek offers a more wallet friendly alternative for shisha and snacks.
A colourful sign sits above the glass fronted café, immediately showing off the lack of indoor seating; meaning the gaggle of tables and chairs outside on the pavement is the most obvious place to sit. Although an effort has been made to group together cheerful, brightly coloured chairs, some mismatching, shabby plastic chairs have crept their way into the mix.
Being a cafe, there’s a large selection of drinks; sodas, cocktails, fresh fruit juice and hot beverages. We eventually caught the attention of one of the many waiters and ordered one watermelon smoothie (20LE), a lemon mint (18LE), apple and mango (20LE) and an orange juice (14LE). We also ordered one grape sisha (20LE) which took a while to prepare; it tasted good, though it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Despite advertising pomegranate juice (12LE), the waiter looked at us blankly and confirmed our suspicions that it was unavailable. Although it was obviously made with fresh fruit, the watermelon wasn’t quite ripe enough, resulting in a rather bland, unsweetened, slushy concoction. Similarly, the lemon and mint juice had neither enough of a lemon taste, nor a mint one. Sadly, the orange juice was both warm and concentrated whilst the mango and apple juice was overpowered by the mango.
After scouring the savoury snacks, sandwiches and sweet desert menus, we opted for a chicken shawerma sandwich (18LE) and a slice of chocolate cake (20LE). The dessert menu promises a wide range of deserts, although very few were actually available. Unfortunately, the chicken shawerma sandwich was very unappetising; the chicken filling was over-seasoned, dry and gristly. Our giant slice of chocolate cake was a little better; the stale sponge was largely hidden by the chewy fudge layers, copious amounts of chocolate sauce and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Despite Ne3Na3a’s sought after location, they’re a long way off competing with other Zamalek hangouts. If both the food and drinks improved, their location may help attract a larger crowd.