Autumn is Cairo’s best season for a breakfast outing. The combination of the sun’s warm light and November’s cold breeze creates an amusement that wouldn’t be complete without sharing an early breakfast with someone close.
Daily News Egypt decided to pay a visit to Tabali, an oriental restaurant that offers customers Egypt’s most traditional dishes with a modern twist and a unique taste.
On one of Fifth Settlement’s most crowded streets, Tabali has a small, cosy place with only a few tables in both its outdoor and indoor areas; hence, customers might find the place too crowded sometimes, with tables located very close to each other. Corporate employees on break may wait in line for 20-30 minutes until a vacant table becomes available. However, the place’s service and reputation definitely compensate for the waiting time.
Tabali offers Egyptians’ most favorite plates, from “Fol” (fava beans), “Ta’meya” (Egyptian version of falafel), eggs, fries, and cheese, to “Koshary” (dish of rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, and sauce), “Hawawshy” (Egyptian fried pita burger), macaroni, liver, and sausage. However, it serves them in both traditional and extraordinary, modern ways.
For the classics, we ordered Fol with oil and lemon, a mixed stuffed Ta’meya plate, humus with grilled sweet peppers, and Halloumi cheese.
Having an early morning breakfast did not prevent us as food enthusiasts from trying cheese Hawawshy, lentil soup, and pepperoni french fries.
The modern plates were the most interesting ones in taste and appearance. The best among the ones we ordered was the Humus and grilled sweet peppers. The colours of the plate were the first attraction. The sandy yellowish humus with red, yellow, and green dipped in it portrayed a colourful plate that couldn’t help but attract our eyes and urge us to try it.
The mixture between the Humus’ balanced bitterness and the sweet, fresh, crunchy peppers provided a balanced texture for the plate. Moreover, the smoothness of the Humus with the crunch of the fresh peppers made it a successful, one-of-a-kind dish.
However, a better taste would have been added if the peppers were further grilled and sliced into bigger pieces. This would have added a stronger grill taste, which was slightly missing from our point of view.
The pepperoni french fries were also met with love. The plate was a mix of french fries drowned with red pizza sauce and crushed basil, and topped with larger portions of pepperoni and melted mozzarella cheese.
For lovers of french fries, the plate was an overwhelming portion of sweet, moisturizing pizza sauce and salty french fries. Yet, for those who prefer their fries to be crispy, they might be a bit disappointed with the plate.
The copious amount of sauce was quickly absorbed by the fries, leaving soft, a taste that might not be preferred by all people. On the other hand, we found that the taste of the combination overcame our personal preferences for the fries.
We found the “Hawawshy” to be the closest to homemade ones. The taste of the meat was strong and revealing, and the bread was not soaked in hideous amount of oil, something that is rarely found in street food.
Freshness was the main factor found in all the plates, something that was also applied to the classics. We found the Fol’s taste quite interesting and light.
As for the Ta’meya plate, it was a mix of six large Ta’meya pieces, each stuffed with a different component. The portions are quite ready to be served for at least three persons.
The texture of each one—crunchy on outside and soft on the inside—was a composition that the team worked on creating for a long time, as we were told by the waiter while ordering.
The stuffing was also a unique element, only found at Tabali. Other than the commonly known fresh chili Ta’meya, the place served Ta’meya stuffed with cheese, pickled lemon, baba ghanoush, and pastrami, adding a modernised twist to the traditional plate.
The Halloumi cheese plate is one of the most accredited plates at the restaurants, almost ordered by every surrounding table. The plate is a mixture of cheese slices grilled in olive oil and placed on slices of tomatoes with arugula, black olives, and a spread of thyme on top.
The plate also shares the attraction that the Humus has, with the diversity of colours. The served vegetables also add a well-balanced taste between sweet and salty.
Tabali’s prices range from EGP 15 to 40, an amount that some might find expensive for oriental food that can purchased elsewhere for less. However, the food’s quality and portions are worth the difference.
The place’s service is quite fine. Waiters are always smiling and walking around to ask if anyone is missing anything or in need of extra service.
As for the desert, we went for the most requested plate: rice pudding. Made from fresh milk every day, the place serves the best rice pudding we have tasted so far; although, it might be a bit heavy after a full stomach of the above-mentioned food.
The overall experience of Tabali was very successful, leaving us wanting to pay the place another visit and to suggest people to go try it.
It has two branches: one in Heliopolis and the other in Fifth Settlement.
For reservations call 0100 116 1680