There are very few places that can truthfully claim to have authentic Egyptian cuisine down, but Tableya, which just opened in City Stars, is definitely way up on the top of that list.
This entire past week we've been on a two-part mission in anticipation of Ramadan: to find good places to eat so we can stuff our faces before the month of hunger games comes along, and while we're at it to do some research on where we can go for some good iftars and sohours. So when a little birdy told us about a brand new restaurant in City Stars by the name of Tableya, after contemplating whether it was worth the drive all the way out there, we thought, "Why the hell not?" We'd drive to the ends of the earth for good food – and made the trip to the other side of the city.
Upon arriving at the mammoth complex of City Stars, we then proceeded to go in search of this alleged restaurant, which let's just say was a mission that helped us work up an appetite in and of itself, largely due to the vast incompetence of the City Stars staff. (It went something like this: "Where's the newly opened restaurant Tableya?" "I don’t know." "Ok could you ask someone else and see if they know?" "No, none of us will know.").
When we finally arrived at the place, which FYI is located right in front of the VIP cinema, our first instinct/comment was "Oh my god, the place is so Instagrammable!" The place was a gorgeous blend of oriental and bohemian, with exposed brick walls overlaid with sections of patterned tiles. Random vintage Arabian-style doors and windows adorned the walls and oversized glass lamps hung from the beamed ceiling.
We took our seat, purposely choosing the large, uber-plush baby blue couch that looked like it was stolen from the set of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and perused the menu. It was essentially every authentic Egyptian meal that your mom makes in one place. But the question was, would it live up to mama's cooking? WOULD IT? Turns out, it would. We ordered up, a veritable feast of Egyptian cuisine, with everything from vine leaves to mombar, molokheya to 3ads Abazi (as per out waiter's recommendation), and some messa2a3a for good measure.
In preparation for the feast, we tried out their gargeer soup, which we weren’t entirely sure about – because I mean, who really wants to try gargeer in liquid form? - but our waiter insisted, and we’re glad he did, because that soup was seriously – even surprisingly – good! The vine leaves were great, but even better was the yogurt dip, which was perfectly made.
Being the sad excuse for Egyptians that we are, we are slightly ashamed to admit we'd never tried mombar until we tasted it at Tableya. Turns out, that mombar stuff is amazing – like, amazing to the extent that we were fighting over the last piece. We later discovered that the casing of the sausage is actually the intestinal tract. We were not too pleased with that discovery but in retrospect, it's a good thing we didn’t know about it before we devoured the plate, because we would have missed out on some damn good intestines!
The molokheya arrived in adorable copper pots and the accompanying chicken was so good that we didn’t even want to put it into our bowl of molokehya lest we detract from its taste. The recipe for the 3ads Abazi was apparently a family secret from Tableya's founder Hassan Abaza, and it was unlike any other 3ads we’ve tried so far. It was sort of a pureed form of lentils, infused with spices and tomatoes, and complimented with chicken. It was awesome.
Being the hungry beasts that we are, we also had what we like to refer to as Egyptian quesadillas, aka Hawawshi, some chicken with zaatar, and then polished off our meal with some asab juice and tea. Needless to say, we pretty much ate our body weight in Egyptian cuisine, and we may or may not have gained around five kilos from that meal alone. However, we do not regret a single kilo of that. Sorry, mama, Tableya's food nails Egyptian cuisine on the head, and we know we might get a shib-shib thrown at us for saying this, but it might just beat out the majority of homecooked meals!
The restaurant will be one we will definitely be returning to, and we suggest you head there at some point during Ramadan. They’ve got a delicious set menu planned out for Iftar, as well as one for Sohour.