Shaware3na: Unexciting Delivery-Only Egyptian Street Food in Maadi
There’s a reason Egyptian street food enjoys such wide popularity – even in the face for the increasing number of cuisines and/or gimmicks that continues to arrive at the doorstep of the Cairo dining scene. One of the biggest issues for many is, understandably, hygiene, which feeds into the bigger issue of quality.
There are, of course, restaurants such as Zooba that have taken street-food and neatly repackaged it into a cleaner-cut version of itself, but then many object to the prices, dismissing the whole concept as nothing but a gimmick.
With several restaurants who already fall into this clean street food category, a new competitor has joined the ranks; Shaware3na. Having expanded from their original branch in Manial, Shaware3na has set up a new delivery-only kitchen inside Maadi Club.
The menu features nothing new or exceptional; just the good old sandwiches you would normally find at a traditional Egyptian cart – think hawawshi, liver, and sogok alongside salads like marinated potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes, as well as sweet sandwiches like jam, honey and cream.
We opted for a hawawshi (12LE) and an Alexandrian liver combo (18LE) alongside a Halawa with Cream (6LE) sandwich for dessert.
Our order was at our door in unbelievable fifteen minutes after we placed the order, the sandwiches were neatly packaged into rectangular containers and, most impressively, the food was hot.
Unfortunately, though, initial optimism quickly made way for dissapointment. The hawawshi – two tiny halves of one loaf of baladi bread – was meagrely stuffed and said meat stuffing had the same seasoning as that of sojok, leaving it a confusing and underwhelming dish.
The Alexandrian Liver fared slightly better – but not by much. This sandwich is once again rather small – one half of a baladi bread – and, although stuffed much more generously than the hawawshi, it was uncharacteristically bland compared to the heavily seasoned versions you’d get at a cart. Meanwhile, the French fries that came as part of the combo were exasperatingly soggy.
The halawa with cream sandwich proved to be quite divisive, in that it had a homemade feel to it – but to the extent where one couldn’t help think that we could just have made something identical at home. There was nothing special about it – no graft or finesse.
If anything, our experience only went to prove the argument that street food belongs on the street and not in neatly packaged boxes. Polishing this kind of food often takes away two of its most important factors; the flavour, and the adrenaline rush you get from an impending sense of doom. At least the delivery service was fast, though.