Pinoy: Filipino Restaurant Shows Potential to be a Cult Favourite in Cairo
With Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai restaurants galore, Cairo has no shortage of Asian cuisine to choose from. However, there was one eastern country yet to be represented: the Philippines. Thankfully, that gap has been filled by Pinoy (which means ’of Filipino origin’ in the native language).
The entrance to the venue, with its iron-barred window and door, looked like an office, remarked a friend. When we stepped inside, we discovered it was more like someone’s dining room. Decked out in IKEA furniture – a new standard for Cairo’s restaurants – the seating featured a couple of tables for two and one long communal arrangement. The fluorescent hospital-like lighting didn’t help the ambience, but the cute artificial flower arrangement on the wall did.
We seated ourselves near the flat-screen TV, a bit taken aback by the absence of a hostess. The owner, a Filipina, was sat to our left watching Filipino reality shows with a friend. The descriptions on the menu were enthusiastic and even included hashtags in some cases; we found this endearing, but would have appreciated more detail as to the contents of our meals as well as a spiciness indicator.
Ravenous, we quickly ordered two Siopao – dumplings filled with pulled chicken in a sweet, tangy sauce similar to chutney (15LE). Unfortunately, there were only two options for beverages other than soft drinks, and only the Salabt (ginger tea) was available (17LE).
The Siopao was a little too thick for a dumpling and bit bland, but warmed our tummies nicely as we waited on our main courses – Adobong Manok, a chicken marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic (47LE) and Adobong Manok Sa Gata (58LE), which is the same dish with a coconut milk twist. Apparently, this is the unofficial national dish in the Philippines. We had wanted to try the Bicol Express, a spicy stew, but were told it was unavailable as were a few other (probably due to the country’s current shortage of imported goods).
The meals were pleasingly flavourful and well-portioned, but we made sure not to finish it all so as to leave room for dessert – Ube Halaya, which is a purple yam paste, sweetened with jam and condensed milk (24LE). Despite its bright purple colouring and vegetable contents, the dessert was actually quite delectable with its mousse-like texture and sweetness.
Our introduction to Filipino food (and television) was most certainly memorable. Pinoy stands apart from other Asian restaurants in that the food tastes more like authentic home cooking. Hopefully next time more dishes will be available and as tasty as the ones we tried.