Sultan Ayub: Welcoming Turkish Restaurant in Mohandiseen
Purveyors of Turkish cuisine are
regrettably few and far between in Cairo; probably because so much of it
overlaps Egyptian and Arabic cuisine. There are very subtle but significant
variations, though; and that’s something that Sultan Ayub on Mohandiseen’s Gamaat
El Dowal Street takes to heart. Located close to the intersection with Sudan
Street, the shop stands out against its grey residential surroundings, both
in sight and in smell, on account of the shawerma stand outside. The restaurant
itself is fairly small, and has five tables mostly with high-couch booths that accommodate large
and small groups.
After seeking explanations of some of the
dishes, we ordered two fresh juices (10LE each), the mixed appetisers (25LE)
and a plate of salad from the salad bar (14LE per visit). For our mains, we
cautiously asked for the Sultan Ayub dish (46LE) and the chicken kabab pottery
(38LE). Having waited a little longer than we expected, we were suddenly
bombarded with the whole order.
The salad bar offers hummus, baba ghanough
and tehina – all of which tasted fresh and delicious – as well as a selection
of Egyptian-style pickles, coleslaw and salad made up of tomato, cucumber and
lettuce. Out of the mixed appetisers, a cheese-stuffed pie stood out
because of the soft Turkish bread it was made of, compared to the pretty
humdrum dolma and kobeba. A small serving of a slightly spicy lahmacun also
impressed: flatbread covered with minced-meat, tomato, pepper and onion.
The Sultan Ayub dish (46LE) was described
to us by staff as a layer of yoghurt-coated Turkish bread, topped with various
meats, and a ‘special Turkish tomato sauce’. The waiter was right in some aspects,
but it wasn’t served as the structured dish we thought it would be. There was
no yoghurt, and the special tomato sauce was actually plastered onto pieces of
flatbread that rested atop the meat. The dish usually comes with chicken and
meat kabab, as well as beef kofta, but the latter hadn’t been prepared yet and
we were given chicken kofta instead. It lacked the char-grilled beef taste of
normal kofta, though; and tasted like processed chicken. On the other hand, the
big meat and chicken kabab pieces saved the dish. Seasoned perfectly, the
pieces were a little dry, but that was easily remedied with hummus or tehina.
The chicken pottery was a shallow clay pot that
held what looked like a big patty stewed in a tomato sauce. Like the chicken kofta, this also tasted and
felt like processed meat – something you might get out of a can. Nonetheless,
it was seasoned perfectly and we found ourselves dipping bread into the sauce
relentlessly. The juices, as promised, were fresh and chilled. The orange was sweet
and a little sour, and the mango was a little stringy.
Out of the two desserts offered, we went
for the Turkish pudding (7LE). It strangely came in a small lidded plastic bowl
and was prepared and refrigerated. Tasting like a mix between chocolate pudding
and classic Egyptian mahalabeya, it was an adequate if completely unspectacular
end to the meal.
Although the staff are courteous and
helpful, it’s difficult to look past the mix-up of the dishes and the delay in
getting the food to our table. On top of that, we had ordered a spinach and
meat pie from the Turkish pie section (described in the Arabic side of the menu
as fiteer), but it never came and was included on our bill.
Unless you’re a
connoisseur of Turkish food, you’ll be hard pressed to notice any real significant
difference between Sultan Ayub’s version of it and the Egyptian equivalents.