The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


Shishawy: Belt-Busting Sohour at the Kempinski Nile Hotel

reviewed by
Lauren Lutz
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Shishawy: Belt-Busting Sohour at the Kempinski Nile Hotel

Once you
get over the claustrophobic feel of the open-air Shishawy Café, which is at the
centre of the second floor of the Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo in Garden City and
surrounded by twenty floors of high walls, you’ll begin to enjoy
the dim candlelit atmosphere and the Ramadan TV shows projected onto one of the
café’s large whitewashed walls.

The sohour
menu is quite robust and at 120LE per person, it is worth just about every piaster.
Start off with your choice of a Ramadan drink; the amar el din is excellent and
the karkadeh is the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. While you’re waiting
for the first dishes to be brought out, try a medusa shisha (one bowl with two
hoses). Shishawy is famous for its exotic shisha flavours and mixes. The liquorice
flavour isn’t as strong as this reviewer expected, but it is still smooth and
pleasant; just beware the price tag of the medusa – a Ramadan special of 100LE!

First up on
the menu is a small bowl of yogurt that you can have either plain or with fruit
on top. Ours came with some puréed strawberries that, while quite pretty, made
the mixture very watery and a bit awkward to eat. The accompanying mezza platters
consist of a delightful array of meats and cheeses, from mouth-watering basterma
to creamy brie and a strong Swiss. You can improvise some delicious sandwiches
using the fresh bread provided or use it to lap up the hummus and spicy baba ganough.
You’ll also receive small dishes with cheese and spinach sambousak, a kebbeh
ball, and stuffed vine leaves.

Leave room
for the main dish, which is your choice of shawerma, kofta or a number of
egg-based options. The shakshouka is delicious and shaped into a small dome,
making it look almost too pretty to eat. For having nothing but meat and a few
peppers in it, the beef shawerma is also surprisingly amazing; every bite is
juicy without being greasy and it is spiced to perfection.

Just when
you’re sure you can’t eat anymore, take a big breath and prepare for dessert.
Again, there are a number of choices ranging from om ali to fresh fruits or an
assortment of Oriental pastries. The om ali is about as good as it gets and
while the assortment of baa’lawa, kahk and konafa as well as other oriental
sweets are really very good; we’ve tasted better around Cairo.

Though the
shisha was unnecessarily expensive, Shishawy was an overall excellent sohour
experience, complete with a live oud performance throughout the evening and an
incredibly attentive and polite staff.

360 Tip

If you want a shisha, just get a normal size and share it. Better yet; get two. It might not look as cool as the medusa, but it will definitely be cheaper.

Best Bit

Did we mention how good the shawerma is?

Worst Bit

The restaurant closes at 1:30AM (or at least stops serving then), so you'll have some time to kill before the fagr prayer.

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