81 Enmore Rd
Newtown, NSW 2042
The best restaurants are those that you stumble upon, and that is exactly how I came to know about Cairo Takeaway. I was wandering through Newtown a few months ago after dinner, when I spotted an ancient-looking pot through a non-descript door, filled with falafel floating in golden oil. Naturally my interest was piqued, and a quick peek inside revealed a cosy, homely restaurant that seems to specialise in Middle-Eastern food, if the falafel vat and counter of fresh salads and pickles were to be believed.
Unfortunately how it always seems to go when I find a new place I would like to try, is that I end up dawdling for months on end before I finally check it out, but better late than never I suppose. Despite being in the rather popular area near Enmore Theatre, Cairo Takeaway seems very much like a local’s haunt, filled with people dropping in for a casual bite. But that doesn’t mean it’s not popular; in fact, it’s bustling atmosphere was one of the things that attracted me to cross the road for a look in the first place. I was extra glad that I had arrived early enough to nab some of the best seats in the house, overlooking the chefs working in the open kitchen, and within literal sniffing distance of the charcoal grill.
Where there’s a Mixed Meat Plate ($24), you can be sure that I will order it. In fact, I was extra tempted by this one, as I could see the chefs loading up each platter with an exquisite rainbow of meats, veggies, and dips.
Indeed, everything tasted as good as it looked; the fattoush salad was freshly made with handfuls of crunchy pita chips, and the cold vegetable stew was a surprisingly hearty addition to the plate. The charcoal grill lamb kofta was my favourite – it was juicy and succulent, and tasted absolutely amazing wrapped in the pita bread with pickles, and a generous smear of the garlicky, aromatic toum. The chicken was a little on the dry side, but it still carried the rich smokiness from the open flames, and to my delight, came pre-coated in garlic sauce.
After several agonising minutes, I decided on the Falafel Plate ($15) over the monthly special of Lamb Fattah – slow cooked lamb shoulder layered with rice, bread, lamb stock, and tomato salsa. This is a decision I would never have made a year ago but hey, Sydney’s superior falafel have converted me.
This may have been a bit of a gamble, but thankfully it paid off. The falafel at Cairo Takeaway are the Egyptian kind (go figure), with a lusciously green centre of broad beans mixed with parsley. They’re fried to the point of blackness, and the crunch of the shell is almost obscene. Yet despite that, the centre was light and fluffy, the herbs imparting a beautiful freshness to each bite. This was a great one to have with the lemony tahini sauce.
With just enough room left for dessert, I consulted one of the lovely blokes at the counter, who recommended the Kounaffa ($10), baked fresh to order. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been fantasising about this most nights ever since having it. Served piping hot right out of the oven, the gooey base of eggy vanilla custard was topped with a crumbly nest of string pastry, then drowned in lemon syrup, before being topped with strawberries and chopped pistachios. It is everything you could possibly want in a dessert – sweet, creamy, crunchy, fruity – this has very literally got it all. It’s at the perfect point of richness where every bite feels like an indulgence, yet is balanced enough for you to crave bite after bite. Consider me absolutely smitten.
I’m glad my initial hunch about Cairo Takeaway was correct. I thoroughly enjoyed both the food, and the warm hospitality that the restaurant offered. It certainly is a little on the pricy side, but given the quality of the food, I’ve no problems with that. There’s still plenty left on the menu that I would love to try – the only problem is staying away from the falafel long enough to try them!
Rating: 14/20 – prince of egypt.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.