8: Incredible Cantonese Cuisine in Garden City
Inside Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, 1089 Corniche El Nil
6PM - 1AM -
The floor is run mostly, but not exclusively, by well-turned out Asian staff who provide levels of service unbeknown to this city. Gracious, polite, prompt and always smiling, it really does make a difference to the dining experience.
Even if you’re not sat by the glass wall overlooking the Nile, the detailing and finesse of the décor is more than enough to keep curious eyes busy – as will the extensive Cantonese dining options.
One of the more peculiar items on the menu is the jellyfish. At 92LE, it’s by no means cheap, but it is interesting. The slices are usually dried for storage, before being rehydrated and served chilled with a soy sauce-based dressing that includes sesame oil and chilli sauce. It’s certainly an acquired taste and is more about texture than flavour. The long strips feel exactly as you’d imagine minus a follow-up gag reflex.
An order of steamed scallop dumplings (73LE) arrived as steamed shrimp dumplings, but was pleasing nonetheless. The shrimp itself was perfectly cooked if a little bland on the pallet. That wasn’t the case for the crispy lobster entrée (262LE). Prepared in a light, garlic salt tempura batter, the godly bite-size pieces of lobster meat were nothing short of outstanding; light and crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. They also lend themselves pretty well to the selection of dressings served as standard by the restaurant; diced red chilli, ginger and vinegar, chilli oil with peppers, soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce.
Elsewhere in the edible-animal kingdom, the wok-fried beef fillet (136LE) comes with a portion of vegetables doused in XO sauce; a popular fish-based condiment from Hong Kong that brings together dried scallop and shrimp, dried chilli and canola oil. In truth, the taste of 8’s XO sauce is far from being as flavourful and downright weird as the ingredients suggest, but it lets the strips of fillet do the talking for the dish. Though tender and plentiful, the beef may need a bit more seasoning for palates more accustomed to western cuisines.
This wasn’t so much of a problem with the wok-fried chicken with honey pepper sauce (112LE). That perfect balance of sweetness from the honey and zing from the pepper brought the flavour of the chicken pieces to a new level – a perfect coating for poultry. No Asian meal would be complete without carbohydrates and 8’s vegetable noodles (60LE) fair well, although the complexities of the meat dishes are better suited to a bowl of plain steamed rice.