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


Birdcage: Date-Worthy Thai at the Semiramis Intercontinental

reviewed by
Ahmed Abdel Razeq
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Birdcage: Date-Worthy Thai at the Semiramis Intercontinental

If you’re not familiar with spicy foods, or
come expecting the cuisine here to be similar to the imitation Thai dishes you
may find at other restaurants around Cairo, you’ll be surprised with
Birdcage. This Thai
at the Semiramis Intercontinental in Garden City has food that is bursting with flavours and spices – what they call mild is
already quite hot for this reviewer’s taste; so be sure to order lots of white
rice and drinks if you’re not up to the challenge of spicy food.

An indecisive diner will be pained by
Birdcage’s extensive and elaborate menu, which contains several pages of
curries, soups, noodle and rice dishes, as well as the expected meat, seafood
and chicken dishes. Flavours and textures are blended, so there are many dishes
that combine curry with fruit like pineapple or fish with banana leaves. Expect
your palate to be shocked by the flavour combination. Again; this flavour
combination isn’t your average Asian dish of pineapple and seafood; it’s far
more complex and layered than that.

We were confronted with this reality when a
complimentary amuse bouche arrived. The tiny saucer plate of rice krispies,
peanuts and salad sauce with chilli and sugar burnt a very nice roof in this
reviewer’s mouth when a large spoonful was happily swallowed. This reviewer washed down
the burning with a complimentary shot glass of hibiscus juice
mixed with ginger.

Appetisers range between 45LE and 105LE and
include standard options like spring rolls, and other less standard dishes like
crab cakes and deep marinated shrimp. Soups include the typical Thai soup of
chicken with lemongrass and coconut milk, but we opted for the sweet corn soup (40LE) with shredded crab meat for a
change. The soup arrived steaming hot, noticeably fresh and had a very
delicate flavour to it thanks to the freshly shredded crab meat.

Our other appetiser of bamboo salad with
grilled duck (55LE) arrived in a large soup bowl that was drenched in the salad
sauce. Even though we’d asked for the dish to be prepared mild, we realised
just how much we’d underestimated the restaurant’s concept of mild. So hot was
the spicing on this salad that we could hardly tell if we were chewing meat or
duck, and if we had bamboo or cucumber in the salad. This reviewer was
definitely not hardcore enough.

For our main courses, the sea scallops in
red curry (115LE) were both prettily arranged and nicely delicate in flavour,
and our waiter served us complimentary bowls of white rice to lap up the red
curry sauce with. The chicken in green curry (65LE) was offensively hot for a
supposedly mild dish, but the explosion of flavours brought tears of pleasure
(and pain) to this reviewer’s eye.

order of Pad Thai noodles with shrimp (75LE) fared much better. The dish
arrived with a side platter of chilli flakes, sugar and
crumbled peanuts for the topping. The dish was thankfully fresh and subtly
it’s hard to find a decent Pad Thai in Cairo – and it passed the
next-day-leftover test when it tasted just as great when reheated.

After the massive meal and the copious
amounts of lemon juice (22LE) and water consumed, it was impossible to order
dessert; even though their menu of fruit dishes and assorted puddings seemed tempting.

If you like Thai food and you like it
spicy, Birdcage is a great option as a high-end restaurant that will impress
your date as well as your business partner.

360 Tip

Order rice if you're a wuss.

Best Bit

Spicy Thai cuisine with interesting combinations of flavours in an elegant and sedated atmosphere.

Worst Bit

Mild food is definitely not mild. And the lemon juice with mint was pretty disappointing.

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