Ahh yes, Egyptian food. That basically boils down to koshary because that's our personal favourite here at the CairoScene office. Who could've imagined the carb-y goodness that could come from macaroni, black lentils, rice, vermicelli, hummus, fried onions, red tomato sauce, chilli sauce, and a garlic infused vinegar. Here in Cairo, you will find a koshary store or two on every other street, ranging from the ultra chic clean establishments in neighbourhoods like Zamalek, where a plate of koshary can easily set you back 20 LE, to the shabby bicycle drawn carts scattered around street corners and alleyways in the more 'folkloric' parts of Cairo. Despite the claims of koshary enthusiasts everywhere, we're positive that our love affair with koshary far exceeds any of yours. Don't believe us? Well, we wanted koshary so bad that we used this list as an excuse to order some from a slew of different places around Cairo. We won't share our koshary, but we will share this list on where to get the best plate of carbohydrate happiness.
A koshary restaurant in Dokki. Nothing special about this one; in fact, it didn't even live up to its competitors. The ingredients weren't fresh and the sauces that bring the koshary together weren't enough. Prices were reasonable, at 7 LE for a medium-sized koshary. It arrived in 30 minutes in a foil plate with a cardboard cover and the sauces came in nylon baggies.
Cairo Kitchen is supposedly an authentic Egyptian restaurant serving homemade Egyptian meals. Their koshary was clean and fresh, but lacked in the overall kosharyness factor. Honestly, it didn't taste like koshary at all. There is a fine line between koshary and a mixed platter of rice, macaroni, and lentils. Cairo Kitchen delivered the latter. They arrived after an hour of placing the order! Packaging was a bit better than the normal plastic or foil koshary packaging - it came in a nice round cardboard box, and all the sauces came in small square plastic containers, which is way more practical than those ugly little nylon baggies, and much easier to clean up after. Prices ranged from 14 LE for the smallest portion to 54 LE for the family box. The restaurant's customers claim that they are willing to compromise on taste in return for cleanliness and freshness.
An average run-of-the-mill koshary restaurant that, in all honesty, tasted horrible. Everything was wrong; the packaging was the basic tin foil plate with the cardboard cover, sauces came in those nasty nylon baggies, everything tasted stale, and the smell was intensely unappealing. If regret had a scent, Koshary El Kodwa would be it. The order was delivered in 15 minutes and prices were regular, with a medium sized serving going for 7 LE plus delivery charge. Koshary El Kodwa consumers claim that the reason behind their infatuation with the less-than-appealing establishment was that it is one of the very few Koshary places that give you freshly chopped tomatoes and green peppers, and also gave you a packet of crunchy bread to sprinkle over your Koshary, both of which were not delivered with our order...
Koshary El Tahrir is the biggest koshary franchise in Egypt - possibly the planet - with branches all over the country, and in true franchise fashion, every plate of koshary tastes identical to the next, removing the fun out of your koshary adventures. Still, if consistency is what you're after, you can rely on El Tahrir. It took them almost an hour to deliver our order, and when it finally arrived it was a bit cold and also lacked in that overall kosharyness factor. The packaging was good; a nice round box with a plastic cover, the sauces came in little tear-to-open packets that, despite their small size, contained enough to accommodate the whole portion. Usually people said that Koshary El Tahrir is one of those places you go to when you aren't looking for surprises. Expect to pay anywhere from 5 LE for the smallest serving to 45 LE for a family plate that feeds five, plus delivery fees.
Slightly better quality than most, Zooba's ingredients were fresh and of high quality, and rightfully so. Zooba sells the most expensive serving of koshary in the city, charging over 20 LE for a small portion, including delivery. The packaging was the best of what we tried - a sealed plastic container with the sauces coming in similar-looking smaller containers. The overall taste and smell was to die for, almost resembling homemade koshary. The order was delivered in 20 minutes and was still warm. According to those who have been regular customers of Zooba, the insanely high price is justified by the quality of the product and its packaging.
Tom and Basal
Another franchise, but unlike El Tahrir, Tom and Basal is not consistent in its quality. Sometimes you can get a good koshary, sometimes - like when we tried it - you get an unappetising, unsatisfying box of reddish orangey remorse in a box. The texture of the rice wasn't consistent, some bits were crunchy or chewy (a sign of staleness), the sauce tasted like no real tomatoes went into its making, and the burnt onions were far from satisfactory. The packaging is the standard flimsy plastic container that most
koshary places use; still, the sauces didn't come in those disgusting nylon baggies, which is always a good thing. The boxes make it more convenient to pour the sauces out without making a mess. It took them an hour to deliver and prices started at 5.50 LE for a small size box.
Although Koshary Hend refused to deliver to our secret headquarters, we couldn't leave one of the biggest Koshary places in the country without giving it a review, so we went over there ourselves to check them out. It turns out that Koshary Hend only gives franchises to individuals who are capable of managing the name; they don't run all of their franchises themselves, therefore, every branch you visit will give you a different koshary experience. We tried the one in Korba, which is run by the original founders of the brand. The food was of very high quality, without forfeiting on the taste - when it comes to koshary,those are two opposing factors. The service was good and, since we were at the store, the food was served in the traditional metal koshary plates. Prices started at 5 LE, and the portions were more than satisfying.
Koshary Abo Tarek
You cannot have a koshary list without having Abo Tarek on it. Unfortunately for us, Abo Tarek refused to deliver to the office so we sent out a team of the finest koshary tasters in the land to give an account of the internationally renowned Abo Tarek Koshary experience. A three-storey building complex in downtown Cairo wholly dedicated to koshary, Abo Tarek is - as some people would argue - the best koshary place in the world. Visited by a multitude of tourists over the years who give accounts of their experiences on sites like Trip Advisor, most claiming that there is no koshary like Abo Tarek. The restaurant itself is pretty swanky for a koshary joint - the waiters are well trained and are extremely professional, service was prompt and the food arrived in no time. Digging in, Abo Tareks koshary comes with lemon juice (a rare koshary condiment), crunchy bread crumbs, fresh tomatoes and green peppers, and extra burnt onions. The prices are pretty cheap considering the quality of the establishment; it does tend to sometimes overcharge tourist groups, as it is mentioned in one of the user experiences on TripAdvisor, so you should know that the real price is 10 LE for a decent-sized serving. The atmosphere is friendly, and the koshary is without contest the best in town. Abo Tarek was the first and one of the very few koshary places to accept credit card payments, since it is heavily frequented by tourists. The most recommended koshary experience in town. Go now, thank us later!