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


Semsema: Legendary Shawerma Restaurant Opens New Branch in Sheikh Zayed

reviewed by
Angie El Batrawy
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Semsema: Legendary Shawerma Restaurant Opens New Branch in Sheikh Zayed

It’s finally happened, shawerma fans of Cairo – the famous Semsema has finally opened a second branch. Dokki’s shawerma specialist holds a special place in many Cairene hearts and has been a staple of Dokki, where it has stood strong and proud for many years. Semsema ode aside, this is mostly good news for residents of Sheikh Zayed, with the new branch having opened in Downtown Mall.

Said mall is pretty small, but is home to several eateries, including popular bakery, El Forn, and is still unfinished. Although smaller than its Dokki counterpart, Semsema’s new branch has some semblance of an outdoor seating area, though there’s no shawerm-to-car service. Sigh.

Though the restaurant has an extensive menu, our crosshairs were firmly on the Semsema’s almost legendary shawerma – in all and any of its forms. We of course ordered a shawerma sandwich (16LE), but also the shawerma fatta (22LE).

Our food arrived in next to no time and, to our relief, the shawerma sandwich was just as we remember it at the Dokki branch – though it wasn’t without problems. The tehina – an integral element of Semsema’s shawerma sandwich – was sparse, only really having a say in the overall taste at the tip of the sandwich. Inside it, however, it was nowhere to be seen. This issue was made all the more upsetting when, while unwrapping the sandwich, the sleeve, or whatever you might call it, took much of the tehina away with it.

The first thing that needs to be said about the fatta, meanwhile, is that it’s huge – more than any sane individual should eat. Made of a layer of rice, a layer of beef shawerma (also available in chicken) and a layer of crispy bread, all topped with the customary tomato sauce. What’s great about the fatta is that it can be customised to your liking; aside from choosing between beef and chicken, you can have it without salsa, for example – although it might be a little dry – or even have extra shawerma for an extra 6LE.

Flavour-wise, there was little to fault in the fatta; the combination – though seemingly simple – was executed perfectly and each ingredient contributed to the every bite.

Though, like us, shawerma is on top of the list for any Semsema fan, it doesn’t hurt to try some of their other dishes, as well as their desserts – if you do go for the latter, it’s probably best not to order the gargantuan shawerma fatta.

360 Tip

Semsema offers a catering service. True story. Call 01212129919 for more information.

Best Bit

Just the very fact that Semsema is finally expanding.

Worst Bit

The whole tehina debacle was, well, heartbreaking.

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