With three weeks to go before Coptic Christmas, many Egyptians are abstaining from meat and dairy. As a result, this is one of the times of the year when fish is most in demand – perhaps second only to the post-Ramadan festival and to Sham El-Nessim, Egypt’s ancient spring celebration, when salted and smoked fish are in demand.
In Othman Ibn Affan Square in Heliopolis, close to the Military Academy, ElTouny Fish Restaurant has lots to offer for those after a nice – but not too expensive – aklat samak (fish meal), whether to eat in the modest venue itself while watching television, or better yet, to take home and enjoy at one’s own dining table.
ElTouny – spelled on Facebook as ElTony -- offers all kinds of fish, with particular emphasis on those from the Red Sea around Suez, including nice big shrimps.
For those who wish to go simple and to stay on budget, they are known for their fried and grilled fish fillet, served with roz samak (rice cooked with fried onions) and tehina.
More adventurous diners might want to start with the herring-tehina salad or the seafood soup; the latter comes in several varieties, depending on the fish you choose for your soup.
For the main course, shrimp casserole with red sauce is a great choice; it doesn’t have cream and therefore would suit those diners who are observing the Advent fast.
We also tried fried gilt head bream, grilled mullet and a casserole of fish known in Arabic as hamour – all with the roz samak, either plain or with a seafood selection, and the standard, but well-made, salads and side dishes: the baladi salad (cucumber and tomato), baba ghannoush and pickled tomatoes.
A filling fish fillet meal with rice and salads for four costs around EGP 300, depending on the selection of fish and rice.
For those with a bigger budget, more elaborate choices from the menu could triple this amount.
The restaurant also has branches in El-Obour and Tagamoa El-Khames, and there’s a decent delivery service.