Makani Deli: Great Sandwiches & Great Atmosphere, But One Thing is Missing
118 26th of July Street, Zamalek
For over a decade, Makani has been living proof that local brands can provide great quality. However, over the years, sushi has stolen the spotlight from their sandwiches – even the famous chicken corn sandwich. This year, however, the chain has hoped to change that a little with new concept, Makani Deli.
As a venue, Makani Deli’s white façade and French windows are very noticeable on Zamalek’s 26h of July Street. The place itself is divided into two floors, though the top floor was out of service at the time of our visit. From the bread and dessert display, to the classic white/olive green chairs and mirrored ceiling that lets you stalk other tables, the classic interior of Makani Deli is the complete opposite of the more casual one we’ve become accustomed to. Choosing music from the YouTube channel, Postmodern Judebox, which is known for making oldies versions of today’s commercial music, perfectly captures Makani Deli ambiance.
As great as the atmosphere was, we were quick to kick things off with the Shrimp Avocado Salad (70LE) as an appetiser. Despite the scant amount of avocado – 1 Kg of avocado costs 50LE, though, so we kind of understand – there was a good amount of well-seasoned shrimps and different kinds of croutons, all laying on a bed of lettuce and drizzled with Caesar sauce, which we switched to from cocktail sauce.
Served with their to-die-for combo of slices of soft white bread with crunchy crusts and herb butter, the salad had a spot-on lettuce-to-toppings-and-sauce ratio and the shrimp was perfectly cooked, while the zesty lemon on the side was a perfect accompaniment.
Moving to the sandwiches, we couldn’t help but feel that the concept hasn’t been executed to its full potential. The 'one thing' that's missing, as mentioned in the title, is that, at a deli, you expect a huge variety of meats and cold-cuts and different kinds of toppings; unfortunately, only Makani’s usual 10 choices of sandwiches were on offer, but with a wide variety of breads.
Anyhow, we were very excited for their classic chicken corn, but, heartbreakingly, it wasn’t available so we went with Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken (44LE) instead. With grilled chicken breasts topped with sundried tomatoes, lettuce homemade honey mustard sauce, the sandwich had its ups and downs. The chicken was well-cooked, the generous amount of sun-dried tomatoes added a fantastic sweet-tart flavour and the olive and thyme bread we chose had a soft texture and complimented the flavours of the sandwich perfectly. On the other hand, though, the sauce neither tasted nor looked like honey mustard and was closer to a mayonnaise, while the chicken was very thin compared to the bread, which was tough and hard to chew at either end.
Thankfully, the Beef and Cheese (55LE) was available and let’s just say that it was the perfect sandwich. Similar to a Philly cheese steak, it had a delicious mixture of thinly sliced beef fillet with sautéed green bell pepper, caramelised onions, cheddar cheese lettuce. With a generous amount of the flavourful mixture of ingredients and delicious ciabatta bread, which we chose, the whole thing was flawless.
One can’t help but love the direction of Makan Deli in showcasing its sandwiches and bakery, which is made all the better with its general atmosphere; but they still can’t let go of the sushi, which doesn’t fit with a concept that could be so much better if there were more sandwich options and a make-your-own approach. We’ll still be back, though, even if just for the chicken corn sandwich.