Baladi: Heliopolis Street-Food Favourite Expands into Maadi
60 Road 9, Inside Cilantro Garden
12PM - 1AM
Gaser El Safty
There’s a divide between Cairenes when it comes to eating traditional Egyptian cart/street food in more upscale restaurants. Some feel the cart food should be reserved for the cart, where it is delicious and cheap but questionable in nutrition and, well, cleanliness, while others prefer paying a little extra for a watered down, but more, let’s say, hygienic, version of the same dish.
The grey area in between the two is one that left many restaurants out of business. Generally because the upper scale restaurants just can’t get the likes of liver and hawawshi to taste as good.
Working to change this perception, however, is Baladi. Expanding from its original branch on El Marghany Street in Heliopolis, Baladi now operates in the Cilantro Garden on Road 9 in Maadi. The garden itself is a comfortable open courtyard with metal tables and chairs.
As we found ourselves a vacant table, the waiter greeted us with the menu. Said menu is simple and straightforward, offering Alexandrian Liver and Grilled Liver, Sogok, Hawawshi and Herring sandwiches. The menu also functions as a checklist, which you mark and then hand it back to the waiter.
We opted for Hawawshi (15LE), Alexandrian Sogok (10LE) and Alexandrian Liver (9LE).
Our food was served very promptly and with the diluted versions of these dishes having disappointed us at ‘balady-chic’ restaurants in more upscale neighbourhoods before, we feared the worst. Luckily, and gladly, we were proven, though.
The Hawawshi, a full loaf of baladi bread stuffed with spiced minced meat and bell peppers, was the biggest surprise; with a decent meat-to-bread ration, well-seasoned meat an just the right amount of moist, the loaf was generally very satisfying in both flavour and portion size.
The Alexandrian Liver was also a success. Similarly decent in size and spiced and seasoned well – and complimented with chilli and pepper – the Liver passed in the flavour department as well.
The disappointment was the Alexandrian Sogok, primarily because it was cut up hotdogs and not actually the sogok – or what some might call Oriental sausage. This couldn’t have been a mistake, though, as none of the items on the menu feature hotdogs, and although it was once again seasoned well, it just wasn’t what was advertised in the menu.
Despite, this we were generally pleased with what came out of the kitchen at Baladi. The food was both tasty and clean, which seldom occurs with this kind ‘cuisine.’ The waiters were all-around pleasant and the prices are decent for the quality.