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


Donburi: Authentic Japanese Specialty in Cairo’s Citystars

reviewed by
Michelle Ha
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Donburi: Authentic Japanese Specialty in Cairo’s Citystars
Everyone in Cairo knows that some of the best restaurants are found in the most unassuming places. In the capital, we are delighted to share that some the most authentic and delicious Japanese food can be found inside Cairo landmark shopping mall, Citystars.

Yes, Citystars. In the corner of the fifth floor of Phase One, next to Planet Africa and Chili’s, is a small restaurant comprised of two sides lined with high chairs in a sushi bar-like setting. Except there is no sushi to be found here; Donburi specializes in its namesake dish, donburi, which means ‘rice bowl’ in Japanese and refers to a rice dish topped with various meats and vegetables, as we were kindly educated by the informative paper serving mats on the table.

The simplicity of the venue is, impressively, faithful to Japanese aesthetics; clean light wood counters, light wood high chairs and noren – the traditional Japanese fabric – curtains hung alongside the walls. But we were exuberant when we found that the philosophy of maintaining cultural authenticity extended to the food as well.

Donburi aims to deliver Japanese tastes as the Japanese identify and enjoy them in Japan, and the first thing they do right is that they use the correct ingredients.

The green tea (6LE) was brewed with a generous amount of tealeaves imported from Japan, while the tofu in the miso soup (16LE) was made in-house based on the expertise of the owner, who spent more than fifteen years studying the culinary arts, and was the tastiest tofu we’ve encountered in Cairo. The broth itself was a perfect balance between the savoury flavours from the miso and the seaweed base. The tsukemono (10LE) – an appetiser made of cucumbers and seaweed – was particularly impressive;  the dish tasted unbelievably fresh and the tangy flavour harmonised nicely with the crunch of the seaweed and cucumber.

For our mains, we ordered the oyakodon (52LE) – chicken and egg donburi –  and the tekkadon (72LE) –  seared tuna donburi –  and were wowed by both.

The chicken in the oyakodon was definitely a top quality cut: it was soft, tender, flavourful and well matched with the eggs and onion. On the tekkadon, we were surprised to find ten whole cuts of the sesame-encrusted tuna. The cuts were marbled, which speaks for itself in terms of the quality. The steamed rice of the tekkadon was flavoured like sushi rice to complement the seared tuna and was accompanied by avocado slices and a hard-boiled egg in the shape of a fish, as well as wasabi in the shape of a leaf and Kikkoman soy sauce. The resulting combination was marvellous, to say the least.

Even though we were very full from the henerous portions of the mains, we were so impressed we decided to try the desserts as well. We ordered the zenzai (30LE), a sweet red bean porridge with rice cakes, and an order of ‘daigakumo’ (22LE), or caramelised sweet potatoes, was served on the house.

We found the zenzai a bit too sweet, but the perfect gelatinous texture of the rice cakes were enough to leave us satisfied nonetheless. The caramelised sweet potatoes were not as crispy as we’d hoped, but the sweetness of the dish still provided a perfect finish to our dinner.

Donburi provides one of the most pleasant and satisfying eating experience for Asian food in all of Cairo. A little bird told us that Donburi is set to roll out some new menu items, including Japanese croquettes and ‘yakitori’, and we can’t wait to go back and indulge ourselves in their wholesome, authentically Japanese deliciousness.

360 Tip

You may be able to buy some of the amazing tofu to go – ask the manager during your next visit.

Best Bit

The food, the food, the food.

Worst Bit

It's in a mall.

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

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