Volume I, Number 5 October 1st, 2000
by Juergen Stryjak
Still a little too young, too fresh, in the life of a restaurant to be considered a legend, the restaurant LAubergine is nevertheless capable of holding its own as part of the Cairo dining scene. And for three very good reasons: First, LAubergine comes paired together with the bar Curnonsky, found above LAubergine, which accessible through the latters dining room. For many expatriates and Egyptian pleasure-seekers, this marks the starting point for their evenings journey through the citys nightlife. The second reason is its light vegetarian food LAubergine claims to be Cairos first and finest vegetarian restaurant. Thirdly, it features the dcor of an airy, romantic, Mediterranean looking place or at least what Northern Europeans and Americans consider being classically Mediterranean.
The tabletops are chiseled from natural stone. The coarse, whitewashed stucco walls support wooden shelves, decorated with wickerwork and dried flower arrangements. On the tables, you will find long, elegant candlesticks next to bottles of fragrant olive oil. The menus are handwritten in calligraphy. On the right side of the restaurant are cozy tables for small groups. Along the left side are tables, too, but the seating against the wall is a long, pillowed banquette, extending the length of the restaurant, perfect for accommodating larger groups of friends. LAubergines unique all-in-one atmosphere provides patrons with a restaurant, snack bar, and pub while offering the intimacy of your living room at home. Nevertheless, it remains stylish and tasteful, in a city where plenty of other restaurants transform themselves, after many years, into a daring mix of various styles and trends.
But is a clear and simple design idea enough to elevate places like LAubergine into a hotspot? Of course not. LAubergine is more: It is owned by Nicha Cursock, Cairos active host, well-known for lots of other places like the Absolut or Le Tabasco, and it is managed by Samantha Dogmetchi, an ambitious British expatriate and the heart and soul of many clubs and restaurants like the Cairo Jazz Club or the recently inaugurated Flux.
LAubergine is located in a snug little alley, looking like a greenhouse, due to the glass roof over the entryway. When I entered it recently, I was greeted by an acoustic blend of soft Dixieland music and 30s style jazz. It was early evening, and the patrons were arriving with heavy shopping bags, full of purchases from sidewalk sales. I ordered a cappuccino and blue cheese melted on a baked potato (LE 12=$ 3.30), which arrived a little drier than I had anticipated when reading the word melted on the menu. The following Mushroom Quartet for LE 24 ($ 6.50), served with mashed potatoes, was very good. The menu is entirely vegetarian, featuring such delights as Roast Tomato Soup for LE 8 ($ 2.20), Spinach Cheese Crpes (LE 16=$ 4.40), Gnocchi Parmigiano (LE 18=$ 5) or several salads, like Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad for LE 12 ($ 3.30) or Warm Goat Cheese Salad ((LE 14=$ 3.80). Be aware that LAubergine changes the menu frequently and arranges periodically special theme months, such as the Salmon Special, which featured a dozen different salmon dishes.
Even if you add the usual 20 percent of sales tax and service charge, LAubergine is an inexpensive place to find a fine vegetarian meal. If I were a famous restaurant reviewer, influencing Cairos dining scene, I would write a dining guide that excluded all restaurants and bars that do not give their guests a clear idea, in advance, of what the total of their tab will be at the end of the evening. Unfortunately, it would be a very thin brochure, but I am happy to say, that LAubergine would be included gladly.
LAubergine. 6, Sayed El Bakry Street. Zamalek. Cairo. Telephone: 3320080. Open 11 am to 2 am.
by Mariam Salama
Passing under a curtain, then through a sliding door off Ahmed Orabi Street, you walk straight from Egypt into Japan, where a tiny woman in a red kimono who seems to jog everywhere greets you. Okamoto is a husband and wife run affair with a gentle atmosphere in tandem with the most exquisite service. A cup of tea awaits you once you have removed your shoes to sit on the mats.
Okamotos dining room is separated into Western dining tables and traditional Japanese seating. Desiring to absorb the full effect of the experience, I opted to dine at the shin-high, squat-table traditional seating.
The dishes seemed tasty so after looking to the huge menu of Japanese delicacies, I chose the sushi and tempura. The meal arrived mere minutes later. The sushi (with wasabi and sliced ginger) is spectacular and once you have taste it, you cant resist ordering another. The tempura (fried seafood or meat and vegetables) is very tasty and is accompanied by a delicious sauce. Meat, fish, prawns, pork, eel, rice, noodles etc. are prepared as you wish. The Japanese salad is incredibly delicious.
My friend ordered egg-drop soup, which was served steaming-hot. Next came the salty noodles, which were as wonderful as she said. Delicate slivers of tuna and fresh vegetables are interlaced with Okamotos homemade noodles.
After we savored our meal, we felt that we had just eaten some of the finest food well ever taste through life. We recommend this restaurant to every one has not yet enjoyed the opportunities for Chinese cuisine in Cairo.
Service is excellent and friendly. Main courses run from 20 - 40 LE, starters 4 - 10 LE, so you can have an expensive or cheap meal there.
The restaurant opens from 12 - 3pm & 6 - 10pm and closes on Wednesday. Address: 7 Ahmed Orabi Street, Mohandiseen
Welcome to the Ancient Egyptian Home By Ilene Springer
Historical Hotels in Egypt - Part IV By Jimmy Dunn
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek