If your opinions on Chinese food are based off of your experiences with establishments the likes of Peking, Panda Express, Wok N Walk, or really anywhere that reeks of poisonous mall food, you need to reevaluate your choices. Luckily for you, a few friends and I routinely explore the urban landscapes of Cairo for a decent bowl of noodles. Only the worthy make the cut.
And because sharing food is the purest, most quintissential form of human appreciation, I’d like to share with you these four spots (that are all about 5 minutes away by car) from Cairo’s own Chinatown: Abbasseyya.
A few things to take into consideration beforehand:
- These places are not typically “aesthetic” when it comes to seating. You’re not going to Shogun here. But they more than make up for it in authenticity and pure flavour.
- The staff generally aren’t that well-versed in either Arabic or English unless they suddenly decide to hire somebody with both skills. However, they know enough to help you out.
- If you pay 200 at any of these establishments, expect a massive feast fit for at least 5 people. So rest assured and also be careful about over-ordering.
- Go earlier in the day for much better service/quality, and avoid going during the rush hour (ha ha ha). Also, they all close around 9 PM, so bear that in mind.
Ibrahim Restaurant ( Previously Erghery Uyghur Resto)
Perhaps the best of what Abbaseyya has to offer in terms of noodles, rice, and select large dishes. Literally everything is made by hand, so don’t expect anything flimsy or cheap in terms of texture or quality. Their menu is as massive as it is incomprehensible, but the waiters (luckily) know how to explain what the hell is going on. Amazing, smokey, hand-pulled noodles, massive quantities for the prices you pay, and a great place to brush up on your Cantonese (or Mandarin). Just don’t expect the best out of most of their bigger dishes.
Al-Hawary Chinese Restaurant
Al-Hawary used to be a kebab shop, and it shows; the previous establishments’ banners and ads are still hung up in the restaurant. Regardless, Hawary’s chefs really, truly know how to deliver a sweet and sour chicken dish. The chicken is just lightly coated in corn flour, and the sauce isn’t ketchup and sugar; it’s actually challenging to describe how sweet and sour it is, but it’s amazing nonetheless. Noodle/rice wise, it’s not as immensely satisfying as Ibrahim, but if Ibrahim’s noodles are a 10 out of 10, Hawary’s are an 8.5.
El Moslem El Seiny
The most well-known of Cairo’s authentic Chinese establishments, Moslem has only been growing over the past few years. They’ve recently expanded their establishment with the addition of a parallel hole in the wall. And when it comes to noodles – noodle soups specifically – they are almost second to none. As for the rest of their offerings, they’re pretty great, but again, not as great as Ibrahim or Hawary. The trick to Moslem is to know exactly what you’re ordering and maybe doing a bit of research about Chinese cuisine in general if you want the best bang for buck.
I have a love/hate/why relationship with Amrecany. I bet you’re wondering why it’s called that when it’s a Chinese place. Simple: it used to be an internet cafe, then it close down, then some Chinese folk moved in, then they decided a sign is too expensive, so there’s that. Food wise? It’s really good sometimes, and horrible other times. Depending on when you go, the place can either be the best Chinese experience you’ll ever have, or simply just dreadful on all scales. Also, the place legit closes up sometimes as if it’s been halted by the authorities, but then comes back to life later. Regardless, it has the bes atmosphere and seating of the lot, the menus are nice, and they have hilarious menu items like “A product of rice,” and “Glutinous rice ball.” Yeah.