Cairo Kitchen: Modern Twists on Ramadan Classics in Heliopolis
As one of the most unique chain restaurants in Cairo, we’ve watched Cairo Kitchen flourish from the day it opened its first branch in Zamalek. Apart from the food, the interior decoration and atmosphere has been a big part of the restaurant’s appeal; mostly clad in white, the bursts of red, green and yellow, as well as extensive glass inserts and comfy, practical seating, has kept this eatery filled with customers. During Ramadan, a few extra kitsch decorations are used, including foul carts, Ramadan lanterns and of course, the greatest decoration of all, a set fetar menu.
We made our way to the Heliopolis branch for said menu which, at 120LE, offers appetisers, a main course and an open buffet of drinks and dessert.
We began with lentil soup since it was the only one available at the time. While the consistency was there, we found it to be very under seasoned. Things didn’t get much better from there on, as we ended up waiting for the main course for a long time after we had filled up on the soup and appetisers.
Said appetisers included pickled tomatoes, fried aubergine with courgette in sauce, green beans with sesame, baba ghanough, tehina with carrot, and potatoes with black olives – no one can deny the creativity in the dishes, but generally, it was all pretty subpar. Other appetisers included mahshi, kobeiba, spring rolls with vegetables and sambousak, all of which were served a little cold – which is a shame, because they were otherwise tasted great.
You can choose from five main courses; rotisserie chicken, chicken fatta with hommos and yoghurt, fereek with liver, rice with shrimp, as well as koshary and the ‘dish of the day’ – which was aubergine with minced meat at the time of our visit.
We opted for the chicken fatta; the chicken was boiled and cut up into cubes on top of rice, topped with crispy bread, whole chickpeas and yoghurt. The cold-and-hot balance of the dish’s components leaned much more towards just plain cold, and the yoghurt was particularly bland. The shrimp in red sauce with rice fared much better, though; arriving hot, the sauce was thick and flavourful, although a few more shrimp would have been appreciated.
The lemon with mint juice was our favourite from the drink options; the karkadeh and sobia needed more sugar, while the amar el din was unmemorable and tamr hendy was unavailable.
The desserts proved to be the most enjoyable part of the meal; the vermicelli pudding was exceptional, not to mention the meshmesheya, rice pudding, konafa and atayef – we would happily go again just for the desserts.
Though service was slow, the staff are pleasant as always; something that contributes strongly to the overall calmly festive atmosphere.