A touch of spice and the tantalising flavours of India come alive at the iconic hotel's latest restaurant. We head over to spice up our lives.
While there are a handful of South Asian restaurants in the capital, none so perfectly capture the spirit of India than the newly-opened Manipuri at the iconic Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah. Taking the place that used to hold the equally iconic Buddha-Bar, we head over with some trepidation, only to find the memory of the global chain deleted from our minds the moment we indulged in some seriously good Indian.
Right on the Nile, and with floor to ceiling windows, there's no doubt that every meal eaten at this venue will be remembered as some sort of special occasion for diners; even our random Tuesday evening reservation there is now etched into our memories. The moment we walked we were greeted by a professional maître d' who whisked us past the gorgeous oranges and reds that make up the decor and art on the walls and to our table where the aromas of the East began to waft our way. Manipuri is a type of dance in India and the playfulness and romanticism of movement made itself apparent in design of the menu, the light music in the background and, soon enough, the explosion of flavours that would dance on our palates.
We started with the Murg Shorba which is, you guessed it, a soup. A delicately spiced broth with a touch of coconut and curry, the South East Indian chicken soup certainly set the tone for the rest of the meal. We also gave the Bhuna Theenga a try; part of the Manipuri's collection of chef's special signature dishes, the sauteed shrimps flavoured with the classic onion and garlic combination - a cornerstone of Indian cuisine - came sizzling hot and perfectly plump.
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Now for us, there's two true tests of Indian cuisine; Tandoori and curry. From the Tandoori oven we chose a classic chicken Tikka and quickly came a steaming, slightly charred, plate of boneless chicken chunks, doused in more spices than we can name (including the distinct aroma of fenugreek - 7elba to you and me) and serious kick of red chili. With tongues tingling from the spice and hearts racing from the taste, it was undoubtedly among the best Tikka we've ever tasted.
So on to the curries. We went with the indulgent classic: butter chicken. The Tandoori-grilled chicken pieces swimming in a sea of sweet and spicy tomato sauce, made endlessly rich with butter and cream, each burst on bite, giving an explosion of flavours. Needless to say, we had to order Naan bread over and over, because we wanted to soak up each and every drop of that gorgeous sauce.
With a selection of dishes covering each area of India, and even a few Pakistani choices in between, it's evident that the chef and staff of Manipuri have spent months researching and perfecting their craft. With a three different set menus to choose from aside from the a la carte choices, even those who are in experiences in South Asian cuisine will feel at ease. We'll definitely back for a dose of spice at the Sofitel!
Find out more about Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah here.