We head to Zamalek's Gŭ Bar by Tabla to try out their Asian-inspired menu, cool cocktails and get the story of how it came to be from Ahmed Wahdan himself.
There aren’t many spots around the city that serve equally well for a lunch spot, after work drinks, gourmet dinners and raging parties – but Gŭ Bar does just that. We headed there one evening after work to have a nibble, a tipple and a chat with founder Ahmed Wahdan to find out the secret to the Zamalek hot spot’s success, following in the footsteps of Tabla.
Before we’ve even entered the sprawling space, we’re greeted with some of the most instagrammable fixtures in Cairo – awesome technicolour trees and a creepy (in a cool way) collage of 3-D hands coming out of the wall. It’s obvious that design was a main focus when putting together the pieces of the perfect puzzle that is Gŭ Bar. The interiors are as eclectic as the venue’s offerings – from patchwork rainbow hued walls, to lights that can be changed on command and massive pillars that double as lamps. “The interior designer, Jailan ‘Koka’ Ezzat is the one who did Tabla in Sokhna as well as the likes of Zooba and Nola Cupcakes, so there’s no doubt she’s very talented. She knows how we work so my brief to her was simple – it needs to be a place that you want to go to in the afternoon, after work and at night, so it has to be playful,” describes Wahdan. And playful is certainly how it turned out.
As we settled into the plush lounges, we were introduced to the chef who was tasked with the mission of giving us a little bit of everything. Before we’d finished our first glass of wine, a platter of assorted sushi found its way to us, presented beautifully, almost as bright and colourful as our surroundings. Perfectly rolled and clearly fresh, it was devoured within minutes. “With Tabla it’s always been about the party, with a side of Oriental food. This time I wanted to focus on the cuisine because when people are in Cairo they have a more sophisticated approach to going out. And what’s more chic than Asian food?” says Wahdan. “It’s light, it’s trendy and everybody loves it, whether its sushi or satays.” Speaking of which, soon after our sushi was finished, we were presented with a selection of hot appetisers; beef and chicken satays with a delicate peanut sauce, crisp shrimp konafa and more were arranged on our table, begging us to dig in.
“Wherever we go, whether it’s Tabla or something by Tabla, we always make the bar the star. The catwalk bar is our signature,” explains Wahdan as he points to the massive, square up-lit bar in the middle of the room. If you’ve ever been to Tabla, you’ll know that entertainment is as one of Wahdan and his team’s biggest fortes and where better to display that talent than in the heart of the venue, where everyone congregates, mixes and mingles? Belly dancers are a staple of Tabla’s entertainment schedule, and Gŭ Bar is no different, except this time Wahdan is pouring time and effort in cultivating new talent. “Yes, a big name gets people through the door, but I’m a big fan of belly dancing as an art, and the authentic Egyptian style of belly dancing is being lost. So I try and find these talented ladies and encourage them and incubate their careers,” he explains, referring to the likes of Amie who started out at Gŭ Bar’s opening and soon shot to fame. Doing the same with musicians and bands, you can expect plenty of new faces and unique sounds coming to the stage and indeed the catwalk bar soon.
As our main courses arrived, as per the chef’s recommendations, our taste buds took a trip to the Far East as we dug into the likes of Beef Teriyaki and Sweet and Sour Chicken, while the bar staff took a chance to introduce us to the venue’s signature cocktail, the Gŭ. Combining four liquors and a variety of fresh juices, the blue concoction won’t leave our memories any time soon. Having experienced everything the venue had on offer before 9PM, we’re making Gŭ Bar our go to after-work spot.
Find out more about Gŭ Bar on their Facebook page here.