Lan Tania: Authentic Thai Dining at the Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers
Within the eclectic Cairo restaurant scene, finding decent Thai cuisine proves to be more difficult than it should. However, if there’s one hotel in Cairo renowned for its restaurants, it would be the Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers; complete with a top-notch, mini food court of its own.
The restaurant itself glitters from afar, with an excess of decorative lights hanging at different levels at the open plan entrance and like many of the other eateries, Lan Tania’s seating spreads into the lobby; however, surrounded on both sides by tall shrubbery, the polished tables remain shrouded with privacy. The glass walls to the kitchen allows you to watch your food being prepared, whilst the deep red and gold runners, leather place mats and exotic flower centre-pieces give the table a chic, but exotic feel.
A humble, polite waiter immediately supplied us with menus, filled with authentic Thai dishes; from soups and salads, to curries, noodles and enticing meat dishes. Known for their spicy food, small illustrations of chillies are next to each dish, indicating the ferocity of the spice. To begin, we opted to share a mixed satay dish (85LE) before embarking on a Ped Num Makham (160LE) – marinated duck – and stir-fried chicken dish, Gai Phad Med Mamuang (98LE).
The drinks menu offers up just about everything; wines, spirits, cocktails, sodas, teas and coffees. The lemongrass iced tea (30LE) was a cool, refreshing choice, leaving an aftertaste we could only liken to Turkish delight. Our fruity Fairmont cocktail (45LE) was a delicious and incredibly morish combination of fresh, ripe banana, sweet pineapple juice, flavourful coconut milk and a hint of vanilla.
First, an amuse bouche of crispy prawn crackers and creamy, mayonnaise-like Thai chilli paste was delivered, along with two wonderful, sweet, coconut and pineapple welcome drinks. Our mixed satay dish was generous, with six bountiful skewers of succulent chicken and thick tender beef pieces, marinated in tangy spices and served with a smooth peanut dip and a small, sweet, scrumptious salad.
Next, our main courses arrived, which were also on the larger side of generous. The stir-fried chicken was swimming in a sweet chilli sauce, with the taste of cashews, onion and tomato blending together well, while the accompanying white rice was sticky and well-cooked. Disappointingly, in the next dish, the copious amount of duck pieces were very dry, despite sitting on a pile of tasty, soft vermicelli noodles which were immersed in a rich tamarind sauce.
Moving on to the dessert menu, deep fried banana spring rolls (65LE) took our fancy, but it was a choice that we partially regretted. Unfortunately, the crispy pastry was fairly tasteless, as was the banana inside; even the pool of syrup wasn’t enough to save the dish. On the other hand, the creamy, fluffy strawberry mousse, fresh fruit salad and tasty vanilla ice-cream accompaniments were a saving grace.
Although the food may not be perfect, its high prices are almost justified by providing interesting, authentic Thai meals as well as a dining experience which is both romantic and classy, with first-rate service.