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


Zitouni: Lavish Fetar Buffet at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza

reviewed by
Soraya Morayef
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Zitouni: Lavish Fetar Buffet at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza

There is such a thing as too much food; sad
but true. In Ramadan, we tend to push our stomachs’ capacity to the limit by
loading up on all the delicious cuisine that Cairo has to offer, but some
restaurants are just plain overwhelming; even for the starving.

Located in the Four Seasons Nile Plaza on
the Garden City Corniche, Zitouni is one such restaurant. After walking into the restaurant with its
plush, soft carpeting, golden-blue chairs, elaborate arches and stellar
Nile-view windows, one look at the fetar buffet had this reviewer almost in
tears. Whether they were tears of delight or
frustration is unclear; but the feast on display could make any heart of steel

The centre of the room had a salad bar, a cheese bar, a cold appetiser
and dips bar as well as a dessert bar. Both walls of the buffet area were
flanked with more tables carrying soup terrines, a large bread corner, and a
hot appetiser section as well as a make-your-own Lebanese fatta table. Aside from the main course table carrying several large bowls of meats and stews, the kitchen counter at the far end
carried massive platters of meats and seafood.

Several questions came to mind: Where do I start eating? How can I possibly eat everything here? Can I fit food into my bag?

For starters, the lentil soup with fresh
croutons and squeezed lemons was so thick and delicious; we were willing to go
back for refills for the rest of the night. At the salad bar, the salmon salad
with poppy seeds contained perfectly cooked salmon (still pink enough with its
flavour popping), while the crab wrapped in aubergine with pomegranate seeds
made a fantastic taste combination. We also enjoyed the pickled cucumbers and
carrot salad, but the hummus dip was a little too thick and grainy for our

The highlight of the main courses was the
kebbeh bel laban (yogurt garlic sauce), which was absolutely divine: the
crunchiness of the well-spiced kebbeh contrasted nicely with the smooth garlic
sauce and the basmati rice. We also loved the freshly shorn shawerma at the
kitchen counter, which was hot, juicy and bursting with flavour. Other main
dishes include whole lamb in cinnamon rice, fish taramolsi, fish in tomato
sauce, and green peas with veal.

Next to plates of sambousak and mombar, a
small make-your-own-Lebanese-fatta table consists of bowls of toasted bread,
chicken pieces, and pine nuts in butter in addition to a bowl of yoghurt. Combine the
ingredients any way you want; the end result is very rich and tasty, especially
the deliciously prepared pine nuts.

For dessert, you can opt for the healthy
option and grab some fresh fruit and cheese, or indulge yourself in the date
cream tart, atayef with cream and raspberry, konafa with cream or cheesecake.
Note a pattern here? Yes, the dessert is all about the fried and the creamy.
The highlights were the date tart and the raspberry mousse tart, partially
because everything else was too heavy to ingest after the massive meal.

After a much-needed pot of mint tea, we
were willing to cry again when we received the cheque. At 320LE per person,
Zitouni has arguably one of the most if not the most expensive fetar
buffets in Cairo now. Add two bottles of water, tea, and service as well
as tax; we ended up paying a whopping 870LE. That’s a lot of money for a lot of
food; and had we known, we’d have kept eating until sohour to get our money’s

360 Tip

Avoid the hotel’s expensive garage and park outside in one of the many side streets; the area is quiet and empty around fetar time.

Best Bit

Delicious kebbeh and lentil soup, juicy meats, fresh breads and creative salads.

Worst Bit

The price. 870LE for two people?

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