El Megharbel: Classic Egyptian Grill in Dokki
Ahmed El Dahan
Judging by the abundance of traditional grill restaurants in Cairo, meat is very obviously at the forefront of the city’s dining conscience. Despite being a lesser known eatery, Dokki’s El Megharbel has been around long enough to have fed three generations. Recently, however, the restaurant has demoted itself to serving solely through take away and delivery.
The menu is full of familiar Egyptian sandwiches including veal kebab (22LE), shish tawouk or chicken breast (15LE), lamb tarb (18LE), Alexandrian liver (17LE), kofta (16LE) and sogo’ (16LE), among other choices. Each meat is also available by the kilo, at prices ranging between 40LE and 168LE.
Since El Megharbel runs as take-away only, we went ahead and ordered to the Cairo 360 headquarters. Unfortunately, during the call, the member of staff taking our order sounded tense and on edge – like he couldn’t wait to hang up.
Ignoring his less than pleasant phone-tone, we ordered stuffed vine leaves (12LE) and dolma (12LE) to start, followed by lamb tarb, shish tawouk and veal kebab sandwiches. Given the choice between shami and fino bread, we opted for shami. We ordered a green salad (3LE) as well as tehina and baba ghanough dips (3LE).
Usually determining which sandwich is which with an order this size requires close inspection, however El Megharbel’s sandwiches are individually wrapped and conveniently labelled. We were also impressed to see that the shami bread used was thicker than what you’re usually given around Cairo.
The lamb tarb – a thin layer of a lamb’s stomach that’s stuffed with kofta before grilling – was flavourful and chewy, without being excessively greasy. The shish tawouk sandwich sported more chicken than bread and was both lean and full of flavour, but slightly dry. Although the lamb chunks in the kebab sandwich were generously sized, the meat tasted slightly bland and was in desperate need of extra tehina or seasoning.
The dolma consisted of soft eggplant, zucchini and green pepper stuffed with rice, which made for a delightful and surprisingly spicy selection. Although the vine leaves were overall very pleasing, their flavour was a tad inconsistent since some leaves were better picked than others. However, a dip into the fresh baba ganough made up for these shortcomings. The tehina was particularly highlight, too; it was thick in consistency and slightly bitter.
Unlike similar venues in Cairo, El Megharbel stays true to its roots and offers reliable, traditional Egyptian cuisine.