Al Asly: Authentic Alexandrian Liver in Maadi
the food is halfway decent, it always adds something to a restaurant’s appeal
when the chefs, owners and managers have an obvious personal attachment to
their product. When the food becomes a source
of pride; it is just that much more enjoyable.
same vein, a couple of enthusiastic veteran Alexandrian chefs have teamed up
with some friends in Cairo to open up a shop in Maadi’s bustling commercial
zone, on the Nile side of the Maadi metro station. The result is Al Asly; a no-frills Egyptian
restaurant that draws its inspiration from the best elements of the country’s traditional
cuisine, offered at very reasonable prices.
all in Arabic, is divided into sections of kebda (liver) sandwiches, meat
sandwiches and chicken sandwiches, as well as egg dishes, pastas, tagines, special platters,
and a variety of sultas; kinds of casseroles that come in piping hot.
With a few
exceptions, all of the dishes aside from the platters are really cheap. The sandwiches, most of which are made in the
restaurant’s street-cart style booth in front of the open dining space – run
between 3LE and 8LE. The basic pastas
cost around 4LE, while the pasta with liver costs 6LE. Pretty much all the tagines cost 7LE or 8LE,
with the calamari and shrimp tagines costing 15LE and 19LE respectively.
platter combinations, which are more than enough for one person, come at a
reasonable price. The half-chicken
meal (16LE) comes with a vegetable spread, your choice of rice or macaroni, and
in the combination platters is prepared with a mix of seasonings, closer to shish
tawouk than the rotisserie-style birds. All the platters also come with sliced French bread to dip into the
sulta. For a nice complement to the
chicken and rice, try the basic vegetable sulta, a stew of string beans,
tomato, and carrots. If you’re craving
something a little more adventurous, try one of Al Asly’s mumbar dishes, which
cost 7LE or 14LE depending on size.
specialty of Al Asly is undeniably their assortment of liver dishes. You don’t have to be a huge fan of liver to
appreciate the preparation and flavour that the Al Asly chefs put into their
sandwiches. When asked which variety of
liver would be best to sample, they quickly assembled the Alexandrian special liver
sandwich. For 4LE, this sandwich packs a
punch. Filled to the brim with pieces of
marinated liver and chunks of hot pepper, the Alexandrian delicacy could have
been an entire meal in itself.
Al Asly is
a clear reminder that one should be careful when talking about Egyptian
cuisine. While there may be some
borrowing of ingredients here and there, the distinction between the kinds of flavours
in each of the dishes at Al Asly is instantly recognizable as something other
than local Cairene food.
The Al Asly team
clearly cares about delivering an authentic Alexandrian dining experience, and
apart from the absence of Mediterranean waves crashing on the boardwalk, it
gets about as close as you could hope. The next time you feel the need to make a weekend trip to the Northern Coast,
think about just hopping on the metro instead to this great new spot in