Monday, March 31, 2008

L" Asiatique

Restaurant: L'Asiatique

Address: Le Pacha 1901, Saray El Gezirah StreetZamalek, Cairo, Egypt

Opening hours: 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM, Open for lunch on Fridaysfrom 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Tel: +202 2735 6730

After watching the Lord of the Dance, we decided to go to L'Asiatique on the Le Pacha boat at Zamalek for a meal. While I have been to Le Steak, Johhny Carrino and Maharani, I've never been to L'Asiatique, and, it seems like a quick and close option for a bunch of really hungry people.

And I must say the place did not dissapoint. The decor is classy and upmarket - no cheesy red lanterns that seem to dot most chinese eateries. Elegantly done interiors, parque floors polished to a shine. They have two very interesting seating arrangements in a pit in the middle of the restaurant (see photo above) which creates an impression of space in the otherwise crowded eatery.

It was the 2nd day of the week, and, I was surprised to see the place was full and buzzing!! There were families and the gliterrati of Cairo rubbing shoulders. I thought I recognised a couple of people from the Flatley show. Guess they had the same idea as us, and, believe me, it was a good idea to come to L' Asiatique. The ambience, the buzz to the place, the company and the food were all great. I understand that the L'Asiatique was voted the third best restaurant in Africa, and the best in Egypt, by the World's 50 Best Restaurants, organized by Restauant Magazine of London, England.

We ordered some spring rolls (chicken and vegetarian LE24.50) and chicken dumplings (LE 27.50) for starters. Vegetarian Spring Rolls are available so I did not have to watch hungrily while others ate. They came pretty quick, served with dipping sauces and were very good.

For a demanding tabel of 10, the service was very prompt and courteous. Of course, it helped that one of our company was a very good friend of the owner, so we got exceptional treatment. But I was looking around, and, in general, the service seemed very efficient.

The soups were very good especially the Chicken Sweet Corn. For the vegetarians, we ordered a Vegetarian Stir Fry served on a hot platter and a vegetarian fried rice (LE 10). On request, they also made a vegetarian version of the Chicken in Red Thai curry with steamed rice. A mixed plate of sushi (LE 97.50), some stir fried beef (LE 49.90), chicken fried rice, Sweet & Sour shrimps (LE 59.90) were also ordered.

The vegetarian fare was very good. The Red Thai curry was just right and tasted delicious with the steamed rice. Even the vegetarian stir fry in a soya based sauce was yummy. The chicken fried rice was essentially the vegetarian version topped with peices of boiled chicken. According to my husband, the beef was good quality and very well done. The food was uniformly good.

The desserts were to die for. A date pie with ice cream, a chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream and gooey chocolat sauce and a macaroon with caramel sauce.. it was all extremely delicious, and got polished in a trice. This is despite everyone protesting that they did not want desserts to begin with!!

Its definitely worth going back again and again, not only for the food but also for the atmosphere. And while we are talking about the atmosphere, a small snippet on the history / legend of Le Pacha!!
The Legend of Le Pacha 1901

Once upon a time, a distinguished and aging Pacha from Upper Egypt had a dream. He longed to build himself a floating palace on the Nile to live out his last days. The Pacha collected treasures and masterpieces to adorn his palace and by 1887, he had prepared his designs and began to build his dream. In 1901, the Pacha passed away without having fulfilled his dream, and left his estate to two daughters. The daughters chose to live in their Cairo mansion and abandoned the unfinished boat in Upper Egypt.

Nearly a full century later, a traveler exploring the banks of the Nile, came upon the abandoned and partially sunken boat. This person fell in love with the majesty and luxury he could still envision through the mud and dust. And so he went to work looking for the owners of the wreck and the original designs. He acquired it, refurbished it, added two more decks and named the, reborn, boat: "Le Pacha 1901". The old Pacha's bedroom was at the prow, where "Le Tarbouche" is found today...


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