Part of Ramadan is enjoying iftar with family and friends. If that doesn’t happen at home, then the next best thing is to go out for iftar. In Ramadan, most places have what is called a kheyma, or tent, where iftar is served. Now, these don’t look like tents, but even when they do, try to picture the kind of “tent” you would see at an outdoor wedding or event, covering the seating area in case of rain – not the type you spend the night camping in.
These tents often serve iftar and sohour, usually staying open from iftar time until the fajr prayers. This year that means staying open from around 6:30 PM to around to 3 AM the next day. While they are all basically the same, there is a high sense of competition between them, each with their own sponsors. The thing is, though, like I said, they’re basically the same…same overall set up (comfy couches and cushions), same Middle Eastern music playing, same tv shows broadcast on various screens, and even the same basic food items provided for the meals. What I think really sets them apart, though, is the decor and the view.
One place with a great view is the Le Capitol tent at the Novotel Zamalek. Located on the island of Zamalek in the Nile River, the Novotel is a nice hotel that is only about 7 stories tall, overlooking the Nile and a beautiful garden. The decor is blues, white, and silvers, and overlooks Cairo for miles and miles. The service is great, and the atmosphere and weather are wonderful this many floors high above Cairo.
The food was also ok, though not that impressive to be honest, serving typically Egyptian/Middle Eastern food. There was a salad bar with 6 or so options, but really only enough for two scoops of each item in each tub, and two options for soups that were quite delicious (Lentil and Orzo were the options). For the main course, there were quite a few options that were basically the same: a few different forms of rice (regular, fatta, mombar, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed peppers), two options of vegetables (both were cooked the same way – traditional Egyptian with tomato sauce), and one serving dish of meat and potatoes. That was basically it – a handful of items that were mostly repeats of the same items. There was no chicken dish either, for those who want protein without eating meat.
On to the dessert. The dessert buffet consisted of 2 small platters of Oriental Pastries, 1 small platter of fresh fruit, a small bowl of fruit salad, and one small container of the traditional dessert called Om Ali. That was it. I’m sure things were being refilled, but overall the options were few and the buffet looked a bit poor.
However, the food that was there was DELICIOUS. Everything tasted great, and I don’t think I had to put salt on a single item. The usual drinks could be ordered, and shisha was also available in a large variety of flavors.
Overall the experience was nice, especially because our company was nice. However, the price is a bit steep at LE 200 per person; in fact, it’s steeper than most other nice tents.
I’d recommend the place, if you’re willing to spend a bit extra for the atmosphere and the great view of Cairo and the Nile all lit up at night. Otherwise, there are plenty of other options for a good iftar that’s not so painful on your wallet.