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


Khulkhal: Nile-Side Lebanese Restaurant in Zamalek

reviewed by
Soha El-Wishey
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Khulkhal: Nile-Side Lebanese Restaurant in Zamalek
Location, location, location; isn’t that the most important thing? Located right in front of the Marriott hotel in Zamalek, docked on the Nile’s bank, the three storey boat of Nile Maxim is situated in one of the most ideal locations in Cairo.

Khulkhal is surrounded by glass doors, which can be opened if preferred, and has a splendid, expansive stretch of the Nile view that’s absolutely gaze worthy.  Newly renovated in a terracotta colour palette, instead of the white and blue scheme which previously adorned it, the new set up is filled with cosy sofas and big armchairs, making it a comfortable atmosphere to be in. 

What hasn’t changed though is their delicious Lebanese cuisine. The menu is full of options from salads and starters that can stand alone as a satisfying meal, to main courses, which include a variety of grilled meats and chicken, casseroles, as well as fish dishes.

A popular dish in Khulkhal consists of stuffed vine leaves in beef knuckle soup (48LE), which came perfectly seasoned, with the right amount of lemon; all that is required of you is to indulge in this to-die-for delicacy.

The muhammara (20LE), not often perfected in most restaurants, had a generous amount of ground walnuts and red peppers, giving it the right level of spiciness. The hummus  with shawerma (25LE) comes in a large portion, while the pickled tomato dish (28LE) was fresh and didn’t overdo it on the garlic or the vinegar, while the grilled halloumi cheese (35LE) was creamy without being too salty. We were told that the chef only serves ‘a la minute’, meaning as fresh as possible, which is why we got each plate separately and with a generous serving of homemade Saj bread.

The chicken shawerma sandwiches (45LE) came in several small, oblong versions of pita bread and were coupled with a light salad, but they needed more tehina. The tagen lessan asfour with meat (75LE) came with a generous serving of tender meat and wasn’t too oily and the fatta (75LE) – this too a star dish – came mounted with lovely meat on a bone, so delicately cooked that it melts in your mouth. The layer of rice, with toasted bread pieces and a sumptuous red tomato sauce, is sure to have you coming back for more. 

The kebbeh (48LE) – minced meat and bulgur made into elongated meatballs and cooked in yoghurt sauce – was wonderfully fulfilling with a tangy white creamy sauce.

The grilled chicken (55LE), mixed grill (75LE) and kofta khoshkhash (lamb kofta in a spicy red sauce, 55LE) dishes had generous portions of succulent mouth watering meats, all marinated in a special mix of herbs that characterises Khulkhal’s grilled dishes. 

Available desserts included rice pudding (28LE), an overly sweet Om Ali (25LE), and a selection of oriental sweets (65LE). By the time our meal ended, night was falling and with it came a colourful scenery of small boats, shining as they sailed by. Our after-dinner shisha (20LE) was delightful and seemed to last a long time. 

Although reservations were a bit of a hassle and the waiters were sometimes found to be a bit on edge, the overall experience was great; spectacular location and divine cuisine.

360 Tip

Khulkhal has an unfortunate no-children policy.

Best Bit

The stuffed vine leaves in soup.

Worst Bit

With the new renovations, the size of the restaurant has shrunk.

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