Small, basic, and clean, with good food, affordable prices, and pleasant service: these qualities have come to define most Syrian fast food joints that have made their way to Cairo’s streets and to the tables of the city’s residents over the past few years.
Khayrat El-Sham restaurant in Tagammoa, a diverse and impressive poster child for Syrian fast food in Cairo, is no exception.
The menu features none of the gourmet dishes often found in swanky, upscale Syrian silver spoon establishments, opting instead for simple staples highlighted with the obvious grills, shawarmas, fattas, and of course, the fried kobeba, where they use the Egyptian dialect over the standard Syrian kebbah on their menu.
Call them kobeba or kebba, it doesn’t matter: they are fresh and appetising in a way that often prompts an extra order.
The fattas, with chicken or meat shawarmas, are not likely to impress or convince any Syrian as being compatible with the high culinary standards of their cuisine, particularly with the unusually heavy presence of basmati rice featured in the dish. Still, the varieties of fattas offered are fresh and not too heavy, and if one has to go for a shawarma at Khayrat El-Sham, then the sandwich should be the first choice: fresh bread, not too greasy and adequately filled with thin slices alongside a bed of fried potatoes.
Like most mainstream fast food establishments in Egypt, Khayrat El-Sham features some unorthodox combinations, like crispy fried chicken fatta and chicken fajita fatta – dishes that are nowhere be found in the lexicon of traditional Syrian cuisine at all. There is also the standard out-of-place presence of the coleslaw salad, which, though undeniably a favourite of many of Cairo’s fast food patrons, would be an unusual presence on a menu in Damascus.
But for EGP 250, a couple can enjoy a generous lunch – likely with leftovers to take home and enjoy in a brown paper bag.
Khayrat El-Sham also has a takeaway store on Street 9 in Maadi, close to the Sakanat Maadi metro station. Be warned though: it’s always exceptionally busy, with clients queuing up for the shawarma, kobeba and boneless chicken sandwiches, so it’s best to get there early.