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


Gandofli: Fresh Quality Fish

reviewed by
Ahmed Abdel Razeq
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Gandofli: Fresh Quality Fish

With branches all over Cairo, Gandofli is a modest fish restaurant that
has proudly served some of the tastiest Egyptian seafood fare for decades.

Most customers who frequent Gandofli’s kitschy
and modestly decorated New Maadi branch are regular customers, who have been
coming here for generations for a taste of the kitchen’s legendary seafood
soups, butterfly shrimp, freshly caught sea bass and, of course, the restaurant’s
namesake: clams, or ‘gandofli,’ which are served steamed and fresh with a side
of lemon to add some citrusy accents.

If you are a true seafood enthusiast; prepare
to roll up your sleeves and please spare the cumbersome polite pretences of
de-tailing jumbo shrimp with your fork and knife. It has yet to be
scientifically proven; but we find that home-cooked seafood tastes better when
eaten with your hands.

An excellent first course is the boneless seafood soup. Made with a creamy base broth and morsels of clams, shrimp and white
fish; the soup arrives in a generous kettle, whereupon diners can ladle their
own servings into bowls. If you order only one bowl (24LE per serving), the
waiter makes the rounds, serving tables from an even larger silver kettle. The
soup is delicious; we usually have to restrain ourselves from ordering another
kettle and skipping main courses altogether– but you would be wise to refrain.

Along with soup, Gandofli serves an
admirable assortment of salads and mezzas, with potent tehina, taboulah and
the salad of salty sardines, acrid pickled onions and vegetables. Combined with
piping hot baladi bread, you quickly see how easy it is to overindulge.

Other appetisers include generous plates of
deep-fried calamari, oysters and clams by the platter-full. Shrimp is served in
three sizes: ‘jumbo jumbo’ (250LE per kilo), ‘jumbo’ (225LE per kilo) and ‘super’
(180LE per kilo). Calamari is battered in thick strips and complemented
by tangy garlic seasoning, tasting deliciously fresh with lemon.

Main dishes, of course, are no light
matter. Fillets of fish are severely fried and accompanied by side salads of
various garnishes and sauce. Grilled salmon costs around 40LE for a medium
fillet, and is brazed with seasoning and perfectly broiled. For more intrepid
diners, eel is served in soup form as well as deep fried.

Quality of service seems to vary; but if
you are a regular, you will be welcomed back with a smile. Expect to pay around
250LE for a meal of soup, appetisers and fried and breaded sea creatures for two.

360 Tip

While portions tend to be on the smaller side, we recommend that you order your weight in appetisers; the comparatively affordable prices will make multiple orders of seafood soup, jumbo shrimp and salads worth your while.

Best Bit

The New Maadi branch provides delicious seafood fare in a no-frills setting.

Worst Bit

Gandofli is not for those who are watching their intake of deep-fried, highly oiled entrées.

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