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

Asmak Al-Sherif

Asmak Al-Sherif: Basic Seafood Made Well in Heliopolis

reviewed by
Nermin Habib
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Asmak Al-Sherif: Basic Seafood Made Well in Heliopolis

While seafood has historically been a prominent element in Egyptian cuisine, restaurants in Cairo have, over the years, struggled with creatures of the seas in comparison to more water-adjacent cities such as Alexandria. But despite the handicap, there are still enough restaurants serving traditional preparations of seafood dishes around the capital.

Nestled in one of the busiest streets in Heliopolis, seafood restaurant, Asmak Al-Sherif, has been operating in the Masaken Sheraton neighbourhood for as long as anyone can remember. While acting more of a seafood market, kitchen and delivery service, the eatery has two tables available for eating-in – though they’re rarely used.

Whilst their own menu includes different preparations of popular Egyptian choices, mullet and tilapia fish, as well as shrimp and calamari dishes, Asmak Al-Sherif also accommodates customers who would rather bring their own fish in and have it cooked. Typical to seafood restaurants, prices depend on the weight of the meal ordered, with the average range between 10LE and +100LE, bearing in mind that shrimp is usually the most expensive option.

Whilst the interior is far from impressive, the staff take meticulous measures to ensure that the floors and tabletops remain spotless. We visited during lunchtime – an especially busy time for the eatery – and, unsurprisingly, we had to wait in line for quite a while before selecting our fresh seafood from the ice display.

We selected two grilled mullet (36LE), one fried tilapia (9LE), one small shrimp meal (11LE), a large shrimp meal (22LE), and ¼ kilo of fried calamari (19LE), all to be delivered.

Although we had to call the restaurant a few times to bite at their heels, the food arrived shortly after the second phone call, hot and well packaged in Styrofoam and layers of plastic wrap. Every order is accompanied with complimentary clean arugula leaves, lemon and tehina, whilst other side orders such as baba ghanough, pickled eggplants and fresh baladi bread are also available.

Moist and incredibly flavorful, the mullet was succulent and grilled together with the fresh vegetable stuffing, whilst a smoky marinate infused the dish. The tilapia was as exceptional and luckily not as greasy as we had previously anticipated. Although a tad oily, the shrimp meals were decidedly average but came with a side of fried rice flavoured with a seafood broth and seasoned with cinnamon.  The calamari ringlets, while delectably chewy, unfortunately arrived cold, yet retained a crunchy exterior.

While its appearance may ward off curious first-time customers, Asmak Al-Sherief is an economical and reliable restaurant for well-made basic seafood in Cairo. If you’re looking for ingenuity and creativity in your seafood, however, you won’t find it here

360 Tip

We recommend personally going to the restaurant to pick out your desired fish.

Best Bit

The grilled mullet was prefectly seared and marinated beautifully.

Worst Bit

The amount of time it took for our order to be delivered.

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