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

Restaurants
Alabaster Bar

Alabaster Bar: Sushi-Mania at the Fairmont

reviewed by
Haisam Awad
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Alabaster Bar: Sushi-Mania at the Fairmont

Tucked
away in a corner at the Fairmont Nile City Hotel is the superfluously named
Alabaster Bar. True to its name, the bar is sleek, shiny and white, but with a
good dose of atmospherically dim lighting.

There
are only five seating sections in Alabaster Bar; two high tables for bigger
groups, two smaller couches that curve around circular tables, and a small bar
area in front of the chef. The Fairmont’s staff advises that you call ahead of
a visit, but you’ll almost never turn up to be turned away. With a selection of
dining venues within the hotel, Alabaster Bar isn’t regularly frequented; even
with the extravagantly named all-you can-eat ‘Sushi Mania’ evenings.

At
150LE per person, the setup is perfect for newcomers to sushi. Not only that; but
it also works in favour of lazy people who just want to eat, forgetful people
who aren’t good with Japanese culinary linguistics, and indecisive people who
can never decide what to order. If he has the chance to, the chef himself will come
to your table and dabble in a bit of small talk with you, before recommending
particular dishes based on your level of experience with sushi, your general
preferences and the freshness of his ingredients. The best approach is to ask
the chef for a selection, upon which random assortments of sushi will be
delivered to your table as often as you like. Each assortment is served on one
large dish, ready to be dragged to your own plate.

This
is not the place to come to if you’re looking for a truly authentic sushi
experience. The majority of menu is dominated by Western-style sushi; i.e.
California rolls, spider rolls, Alaska rolls, and so on and so forth. The chef
does have some skill in nigiri sushi
(the popular combo of pressed rice with a topping); but only true connoisseurs
will appreciate the difference.

The quality of the food is invariably decent,
but no more than that. The rice is cooked perfectly, but the fish and
vegetables feel slightly warmer than they should, and so taste a little less
fresh than expected. On the plus side, the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all
served generously and on demand in small, easy-to-use bowls.

With
this of course being the Fairmont Nile City, drinks are expensive and naturally
not included in the all-you-can-eat price. So if the soya sauce isn’t enough to
quench your thirst, expect to pay heavily. Like all the dining outlets at the
Fairmont, the Alabaster Bar boasts imported wines and spirits; which goes some
way to substantiating the high prices. Beers are basic in choice, and sell for
between 35LE and 45LE, while a glass of wine can set you back at 75LE at the
lower end of the selection, and upwards to 160LE. There are no bartenders as
such, or even an actual bar for that matter; just a small stand where drinks
are mixed. Because of this, the cocktail menu is exactly what you’d expect,
with no surprises, but even the simplest concoction will still cost you at
least 140LE.

The
problem with the all-you can-eat setup is that it relies on a high turnover of
customers; so any restaurant will of course want you up and out as soon as
possible. This doesn’t make for a particularly comfortable time, and so this is
more suited for a quick, on-the-go meal. Sushi at Alabaster Bar is cheap but not necessarily cheerful.

360 Tip

Sushi Mania is on every week from Wednesday till Sunday, between 4-10pm.

Best Bit

Lots of sushi for little money

Worst Bit

Anything that is freshly made to order is great; but it takes time.

Map Data
Map data ©2016
Map DataMap data ©2016
Map data ©2016

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