That’s right, you heard me. Because when you live with a Thai student and he says “I want to get Thai food from my friend’s restaurant” your response is literally not allowed to be anything other than “TAKE ME WITH YOU FOR THE LOVE OF FRIED RICE.”
Basically my experience has always been–when eating ethnic food–by all means GO WHERE THOSE PEOPLE GO. So if your Thai roommate’s Thai friend owns a Thai restaurant and he’s craving it, that’s probably where you need to be tonight, regardless of other plans. Cancel ’em, re-schedule ’em, whatever. In this case, my plans happily overlapped, as I was intent on having my first excursion to Khan al Khalili Bazaar (which I will write more about later because one can only cram so much praise and so many photos into one post. And food demands lots of both, people.) which is in just about the same location.
So we (both roommates included) hopped in a taxi, albeit several hours later than planned (because I guess when your plumber arrives at 4:30 to fix the hot water you should EXPECT him to stay for three hours?) and headed out on the town. I really want to guide everyone who could possibly ever visit this restaurant to the correct location because it’s awesome, but here’s what I got for you: take a taxi to Hussein Street, get out by Al-Azhar University’s old campus, cross the highway through the little opening in the fence and after you walk down a few meters past some sweet shop, turn right into the little back-alley and follow it up some crooked old streets that make you suspect you are going to be lost eternally if you go too far until you see the following:
Yeah that was a buttload of unhelpful chatter, amiright? I’ll work on nailing down the location next time.
In any case, this place is the definition of hole in the wall. There’s barely any room for customers, and the restaurant is separated into kitchen in one room and dining on the right. It’s cramped, bright teal, and has hilariously misplaced decorations. The menu is basically a bunch of pictures with no words (so have fun figuring that out) but when you go with someone who knows what’s up…you’re in good hands.
The idea, my roommate explained, is that basically everybody gets their own plate of rice, and you just grab all the other stuff and toss it on. In one of the greatest moments in my culinary existence, I learned that Thai food is eaten with a spoon, meaning no shameful chopstick encounters today. Hallelujah.
So, we ended up ordering two plates with heaping mounds of fried rice (plenty for 3 people), one of which came with some very much still-in-one-piece shrimp, which were excellent, the other with some sweet chicken. In addition we got a plate of sautéed mushrooms and green peppers, ginger/soy chicken with mushrooms, and two curries. The green curry had beef and was pretty dang hot. The red one was definitely a bit spicy, but the flavor was INSANE. It had a huge chunk of chicken, potatoes, and was heavily flavored with cinnamon. I know what I’ll be awkwardly trying to order next time I manage to find my way to this joint.
My French roommate and I were without a doubt feeling the (delicious) burn from this meal, so it was with huge gasps of relief that we welcomed a couple of Thai sweet teas. These things are basically pure sugar–a tea base with sweetened condensed milk and something to give it a bit of a slushy texture. And probably some fruit smoothie or something, I don’t know. What I do know is it is the only thing that saved me from feeling like my lips had a bunch of hot embers glued to them.
We all ate far too much since we’d had to wait so long to go out thanks to our plumber friend, so we basically rolled and groaned our way out of there. For a grand total of 145 EGP (About $18) we got about 6 main dishes/two orders of fried rice/3 teas/3 waters. One does not normally spend that much on food here, but then…one does not normally order that much food, either. We went hard. And it was so, so worth it.
I’m going to try and update soon with some photos of our following venture into the bazaar, but it may take a few days because tomorrow I’m finally going to go see those geometric wonders everybody’s talking about here, and that’s going to be quite the doozy.
Guys I just wrote like 900 words about my dinner. I think I need a hobby.