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

Abou El Sid

Abou El Sid Zamalek: Travel Back in Time with Egypt’s Cuisine

reviewed by
Jennifer Brooks
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Abou El Sid Zamalek: Travel Back in Time with Egypt’s Cuisine

classic on the Cairo
dining scene, Abou El Sid restaurant in Zamalek is dark and cavernous, with an
ambiance that harkens back to the1940s. The eatery captures a particular mood; you could easily lose yourself in the lively, often crowded
room, with rich old-style art and low round tables emanating an aura of the glamorous
past as lilting music plays in the background and flavourful odours waft about.

restaurant, owned by the food franchise Deyafa, also has locations in Heliopolis , Dokki, 6th
of October and Maadi.
The Zamalek location has the air of a clandestine meeting place with large iron
doors that are not clearly marked. They open onto a crowded restaurant bustling
with activity. The place delivers a rich mood – perhaps
to compliment its rich cuisine – with a tiled interior, heavy metal tables that
spin and dark wooden chairs. Even the menus look vintage with both items and
graphics, and the room is dimly lit, capturing a fire-lit feel even in warm seasons.

El Sid offers a full blown Egyptian culinary experience that will most likely
leave you feeling drowsy but well-fed. The
service is not the most expedient, but is forgivable in the decidedly relaxed setting;
besides, rushed service would be impossible among the low tables crammed
together in a crowded room.

menu holds many options both heavy and hearty, so be sure to bring an appetite.
The appetizers, which range from 12LE to 25LE, give a fair showing of Egyptian starters, although oddly, hummus is
absent from the options. The cheese sambousak are perfectly fried, if not a
little greasy; the babaganoug is generally fresh and zesty; the tahina is
perfectly lemony – but can be dangerously salty some days – and the vine leaves
are delicate and well seasoned. A basket of both crisp and soft bread
accompanies the dishes.  

main dishes reign at Abou El Sid. The Circasian chicken
in walnut sauce (50LE) tastes like no one else’s. the pungent walnut sauce
adds the perfect amount of creamy flavour without being overwhelming and the
chicken is tender and delicate. A mountain of rice compliments the dish and
despite everything appearing the same colour, it provides a plethora of lively
tastes and spices.

molokheya with chicken, (48LE) presented in rustic dishes, is delightful; the chicken is grilled
to tenderness, the rice steaming.

Egyptian specialty of pigeon (30LE for a single bird, 55LE for two) is tasty
but not all that filling. What meat is on the bird is tender and the plump
grains of freek absorb the flavour nicely.

like most of the menu, is comprised of Egyptian specials, the Om Ali (20LE) coming
most highly recommended. With all this filling and flavour-rich cuisine, you
would be wise to order from the menu of juices to add something light to your

El Sid imposes a 75LE-minimum charge on weekends, but appetizers, entrees and
desserts can quickly put you over 100LE. Expect to spend around 300LE on a
feast for two. While the portions are large and the meals commendable, many
things can be found in the comfort of our own kitchens – think of it as home
cooking with a nostalgic spin. If you need the extra edge of old world
grandeur, it may be well worth the price.

360 Tip

This restaurant remains one of the top choices for showing off the Capital's cuisine for out-of-towners; remember to reserve well in advance for weekend evenings.

Best Bit

Abou El Sid's ambiance makes for a cosy and intimate setting in which to enjoy an evening.

Worst Bit

Some argue the food is over-priced for classic home-cooking selections.

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