In order to reach a diamond, more often than not, one has to dig through mountains of coal. The quest for a proper, dedicated meal from any of Cairo’s eateries is one of trial, error, regret, and diarrhea. One’s wishes for a nice bowl of noodles can easily turn into an hour-long trial by bathroom more than one would hope. So in an effort to try and both warn would-be patrons, and scald those who refuse progress, here’s five places you should think more than twice about eating from.
If you go to look at the reviews for Kyoto on either Elmenus or Otlob, you’’ll be treated to a wave of horrendously bad experiences, bots with Nordic names saying “Excellent service,” and one positive review among 12 bad ones whose only saving grace for the restaurant is “it came in an hour.” Whether you’re ordering sushi, a side, or any of the noodle/rice dishes, chances are it’ll take an hour and a half to get to you; it’ll be destroyed or made wrong; it’ll be undercooked and dangerous, or a combination of any (or all) of the previous. I remember ordering noodle soup from Kyoto, and all I got was a small cup of dettol with probably 8 whole noodles and three fingertips of meat. And the chicken karaage wasn’t even chicken; it was chicken-flavoured rubber.
It is incomprehensible how Domino’s the world over is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to pizza, but is nothing more than an angry, distasteful memory in the hearts and minds of many an Egyptian. Not once has there been a time where Domino’s has seen any measure of improvement, or a renaissance of any sort. The dough has the same texture and consistency of an old, burnt baladi bread loaf. The sauce tastes like ketchup that somehow managed to be even more lacklustre than usual, and the cheese is offensive in both flavour and odour. To top it all off, they take forever to actually deliver. Domino’s is one of those places you only consider for the triple offer when you’re flat-broke.
There used to be a time when El-Reem was everybody’s go-to source of quality, A-grade shawerma. I used to have friends who’d make it their mission to stop by Shawerma El-Reem as soon as they got off the plane from abroad. It was a happy experience for all, until something happened and literally all of their menu turned to shit. The sandwiches are basically congealed oil with remnants of flavour tucked between each glob of fat. The rice meals are more rice than meal. The overall portion sizes and actual quality that was once a staple in your daily work dinner order are all but gone amidst terrible budget cuts and stupidly hiked up prices.
Kebab places in Egypt have always had this air of frivolity and mediocrity about them. The older ones always ride on the coattails of their establishment, and the newer ones do the same thing except pretending to pretend they’re old out of irony. Abou Shakra is perhaps everything bad about the mythos surrounding Kebab places in Egypt. Overpriced as all hell, even more so than the usual you’re used to from these establishments, and the portions might as well be microscopic for the prices you pay. Delivery time is already long with these places, but with Abou Shakra? Patience isn’t a virtue, it’s a necessity. Cold food that is both lacklustre in every regard as well as outrageously expensive? What’s the point? Also their customer service is horrendous.
There’s this overwhelming sense of bad nostalgia upon entering or ordering from a Prego anywhere. It’s like your school’s old cantine, except somehow worse. The concept of healthier (not healthy) food has always been plagued with notions of subpar flavour. But if the folks at Prego were literally trying to make something taste like burnt space, they wouldn’t manage to do what they do now. Bland, hollow, and just all-round tasteless food, priced as if it’s something that people actually want. And although they deliver relatively on-time, it’s still just speeding up the inevitable.
Can anybody remember when Spectra was an actually desirable place to go and eat at? Like it was a splendid choice of higher-scale eating back when the norm was McSomethings? Have you recently eaten there or, god forbid, ordered anything from there? Apart from having what is essentially a menu full of items that taste like the colour grey, it’s often messed up, or severely lacking when it comes to portions. And because Spectra started out as a more posh eatery, they still maintain that their obnoxious prices are valid. Bottom line: Spectra is dumb.