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


Zen: Charming Chinese Cuisine in Sharm El Sheikh

reviewed by
Ahmed El Mezeny
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Zen: Charming Chinese Cuisine in Sharm El Sheikh

If you’re a
fan of Chinese food, then Zen at Soho – Sharm El Sheikh’s new attraction –is
definitely worth the five-hour drive from Cairo. Now we’re not suggesting that you pack up the
kids and get ready to hit the road, but if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Sharm
El Sheikh’s Shark’s Bay, you need to check out this restaurant.

Zen is part
of a culinary trio right at the beginning of Soho, in front of the Savoy Hotel.
To get to this restaurant, you need to take the stairs from inside Mandarin bar
or the escalator right next to it. All three menus are available at the bottom
of the escalator, though; so you can make your decision before you commit to
your trip upstairs.

Once up
there, the maître d’ will usher you in past the Lebanese and Thai restaurants into
the Chinese vibes of Zen, just a stop before their Indian restaurant. A fair
warning: these venues seem a little uptight about their dress code; so make
sure to change out of your beachwear before getting here or take them up on
their offer of their backup trousers and shoes (it’s advisable to wear your own trousers).

restaurant’s decor is highly Asian-themed and a little more authentic than what we’re used to getting in Cairo, with classic Chinese paintings and wooden
screens. They’ve also got big TV projectors screening shots of reefs and
underwater life; so you won’t forget that you’re in Sharm.

haven’t got much on their appetiser list, but a selection of crispy poultry
(85LE) and fried wontons seemed solid. The fried duck and chicken were crisp
beyond belief and perfectly matched with the bed of sauce that they were served
on (or even alternatively dipped into soy, sweet and sour or chilli sauce.) The
wontons were decent, though a little smaller and fewer in number than we had expected.  

The chef’s
specialties were all our top picks off the menu and they all came served on a
sizzling hotplate, but without any side items. The barbecue chicken (125LE) is
served scorching hot with a mix of grilled veggies and even some
authentic shiitake mushrooms. Both the chicken and the vegetables were soaked
in a blend of spices and char siu sauce, and both tasted remarkable when eaten alone,
or with a bowl of seafood rice (45LE).

Beef with
garlic and ginger was our second main and a highly anticipated one too. The
beef and steamed veggies were all kinds of tender and soaked in a heavy ginger
sauce. Combine that with a helping of rice and just start devouring every spec
on your plate.

Zen is a great dining option in Soho Square when you crave
authentic, well-made Chinese cuisine in a more formal atmosphere than your
average beachfront restaurant or café in Sharm El Sheikh.

360 Tip

Zen and its sister restaurants all serve a selection of both local and imported alcohol; so don’t pass up a look at the cocktail menu.

Best Bit

Forget chopsticks; the foods so good you’ll be lapping it up off your plate like a starved mutt.

Worst Bit

A dress code seems weird for a Red Sea restaurant.

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