It can be said that the trend of Egyptian street food repackaged into food for Cairo’s yuppies has been thriving since 2011. Whether in attempt to make profit or export Egyptian cuisine, places like Zooba, Cairo Kitchen and Mr. Hawawshy have led this rebranding of Cairo street food, and about a year ago, Asli joined in.
One look at its menus tells you liver is a specialty at Asli, but they also offer sausages, hawawshi, macaroni béchamel, kofta and shish tawook. Asli’s presentation depends on the same colourful fonts and imagery used by similar restaurants. Its stylised font, not unlike the hand painted font used in old movie posters and newspapers, aims to remind us of an older, better time, perhaps in an effort to make their food seem homier.
We ordered a small grilled sausage sandwich (EGP 7.95), hawawshy (EGP 16), macaroni béchamel (EGP 14.50), a quarter kilo of Alexandrian liver (EGP 24) and for dessert, between their cream with honey and cream with halawa, we opted for a small sandwich with a mixture of both (EGP 6.95)
We are pleased to say Asli is generous in its serving sizes; we were especially impressed by the hawawshi, especially in comparison to similar places. Though the meat was not as tender as we would have liked (unlike the excellent offering from Zooba), the sandwich was a good mix of zesty and juicy.
The macaroni béchamel plate comes with two options: minced meat and liver. We went with the minced meat option and though we liked what we got, their take on béchamel may not be for everyone, as it includes a layer of strong flavoured cheese on top. If you prefer your pasta al dente, or firm to the bite, then you should also steer clear; Asli does it the Egyptian way, and that typically includes cooking pasta until it is soft.
The liver plate and sausage sandwich were the more modest options compared to the rest of the food, but were complemented with bread, tahini, and tomatoes. This modesty isn’t necessarily bad; some of the place’s charm comes from the fact that their food looks like it has been prepared at home, without too much fuss on presentation.
While not as polished as Zooba or Cairo Kitchen (or as good), Asli’s prices are better than either. We paid a total of EGP 75 for the food, including delivery charges. For that price, we cannot complain too much about some of the more mundane aspects of Asli’s food but we can say that its convenience, diverse menu and generally good food will make it a staple for many people who want something dependable.