Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ataturk, Cairo

Ataturk Restaurant
20 El-Riyadh Street
+20 2 3347 5135

11am - 1am

This is a lovely little restaurant and I think its the only place serving Turkish Food in Cairo. (Please let me know if you know of any others)

From the outside, it may look like a small hole in the wall, but it has awesome interiors with stained glass and paintings and little blue and aqua touches that are reminiscent of Turkey.

Especially lovely is a painting near a side table which makes you feel that you are looking out on a mile long garden, even in the middle of dusty, smoggy, polluted, congested Mohandaseen :)
When you dine in, you are served a huge hunk of oven roasted Turkish bread. If you ask for a takeaway, you are served a softer, flat version of the bread similar to Indian Rumali rotis. They do deliver upto Zamalek and some locations in Giza.

This restaurant doesn't serve many of the dishes that I do associate with Turkey and had the pleasure of consuming on a visit to that country, but it does its best with ingredients and spices readily available in Egypt. The menu at Ataturk may look very similar to an Egyptian/Syrian/Lebanese restaurant. The difference is in the seasonings.

For starters, they have a variety of hot and cold mezze from 5LE to 12LE. The almonds salad 6LE (pictured above) is a tomato dip garnished with toasted almonds. I particularly ike their meat sambusak (10LE) as it is more like the Indian meat samosa than the Egyptian sambusak with a finer/thinner dough. The Hummus Shawarma (12LE), yoghurt with spinach (5LE) and stuffed vine leaves are the other mezze that I like at this place and which go excellently with the Turkish bread.
The ankara kofta sandwich (10.5LE) has to be my favourite main. It isnt spicy, but it has more spices and flavours than the traditional Egyptian version. It is rolled in pita bread with slivers of onions and cilantro. It brought back so many memories of the rolls at Fanoos in Bangalore.

The sandwiches at Ankara are rolled in Pita bread and not hot dog buns.

The chicken topkapi 34 LE (picture below) - half a chicken stuffed with pulao - was not very good when I had it in the restaurant. The rice seemed like it was newly unfrozen and wasn't hot, although the chicken was hot. It was tasty, but the mismatched temperatures killed the dish.

The Special Meat Shawerma Plate (Antakia) Doner (30LE) was very tasty with its onion and other flavorings. We have tried the hagi baba rice - veal liver + pine nuts (16LE) - The Ankara rice - minced meat + green peas + pine nuts (12.5LE) - and the rice with nuts (9LE) which have all been excellent. Never served too dry. The rice is an excellent accompaniment to the kebabs and shawarma plates.

As I have said before, I must admit I find Turkish and Syrian food more interesting than Egyptian food, because my Indian palate craves more complex flavors than just salt, tomato paste and the occasional pepper which most commerically available Egyptian food seems to be flavored with.

Using spices in the food does not mean being spicy. The food at Ataturk is just that. It uses spices without being spicy and the resulting flavours are exciting.

We haven't tried the deserts yet. Maybe someoen else would like to comment on them.

I have had better and faster service with home delivery (20 minutes today, even though we ordered at Iftaar time) than at the restaurant. But the decor and ambience at the restaurant is just so relaxing, that it is worth dining in too.

You can call them directly for delivery or order on


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