Hamada Sheraton: Egyptian Street Food Royalty in Heliopolis
Looking past all the glitz and the glamour, the Cairo restaurant scene boasts a few home-grown gems. Starting out as a small foul cart with one idra, Hamada Sheraton is famous for feeding the masses; dedicated crowds would wait, on average, around an hour just to get their order in. Gaining massive popularity as the go-to place for sohour during the month of Ramadan, that success paved the way for a restaurant on the same street.
There are no pretences about this place; you’d be lucky enough to find a table let alone a clean one. The store runs a tight ship and patrons are expected to follow procedure; first, pay and order at the cashier before standing in line to collect your food from the huge, aluminium platters.
We were given the choice between home-made, shami and balady, as well as our preferred fixings (1LE-8LE) – the choices of which vary depending on the the type of sandwich you’re going for. At breakfast time, we pulled out all the stops and ordered two foul in flaxseed oil sandwiches (1.5LE each), two falafel sandwiches (1.25LE each), a French fries sandwich (2LE), fried egg sandwich (2.50LE), baba ghanough sandwich (1.50LE), fried eggplant sandwich (1.50), sarookh sandwich (3.50LE) and a shakshooka sandwich (1.50LE).
Bare in mind that this is Egyptian fast food – essentially gastronomical Russian roulette – which is definitely not something to rely on in terms of flavour or quality consistency. At the time of our visit, some of the sandwiches were good, whilst others, not so much.
The foul in flaxseed oil is a store specialty and rarely disappoints; this time was no exception, though it was a little on the salty side. The falafel sandwiches were smothered in tahina and a chopped salad which added a little extra crunch to the mouth-watering ensemble. Staples of Egyptian street food, the sarookh – a blend of almost every item on the menu – and shakshooka – eggs, herbs, and meat – sandwiches were made using the store’s own recipe and were an appetizing reminder of weekend family breakfasts. The worst of the lot was the baba gghanough sandwich which was unfortunately both too runny and too salty.
Hamada certainly won’t be winning any awards any time soon, but for the hungry commuter or a group of friends with little time and even less money, this local eatery and their authentic menu is sure to satisfy almost everybody.