Walking into Topaz in Sheikh Zayed, Mariam Raymone knew she was going to betray something: her diet. But she hadn't a care in the world because the calories were worth it.
Egypt is quickly becoming a huge culinary hub, and with an ever-expanding range of menus, it's near impossible to settle on a spot to dine in – especially during Ramadan. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, simple street food, or a spot for eccentric cuisine, Cairo has an endless amount to offer. However, during our restaurant crawl, we stumbled upon one hell of a culinary experience at Topaz.
Walking towards the indoor seating area, the heavenly aroma of food greeted me at the door. The idea of having a healthy low-calorie meal was out the window – I was too tempted. I sat down inside on a wooden chair with orange leather padding and took a moment to soak in the atmosphere. On the walls was a trail of butterfly-like patterns. As I sat down, I instantly noticed the small lamps dangling from the ceiling, which gave the place a warm and cosy ambience. Being an outdoorsy kind of person, I was happy to see the open-air seating area and decided to move outside.Looking through the array of menu items, I couldn’t help but ask the waiter for one of each dish and the mouthwatering pictures didn’t make it any easier to control my urges. Okay, I’m lying; but I wanted to do that. I started off with appetizers and, knowing myself, my stomach would never settle for only one entrée. I ordered the shrimp konafa – konafa-breaded shrimp tossed in a shell of tortilla bread, with a mix of sweet chill sauce and soya sauce. It was the perfect blend of textures, soft on the inside with crispy golden exterior.
My cravings didn’t end there; my inner fat kid took over and I asked for crispy chicken strips served with honey mustard dip, which I paired with seasonal orange juice – and yes, I ate it all. I even ate the freshly cut orange slice on top of the juice glass. Feeling fulfilled and satisfied, I knew that the main course would be twice as delicious. I was determined to finish my culinary journey and took a step towards the salad world. Intrigued by the mushroom salad, I was happy to know I chose wisely. After all, what’s more disappointing than getting excited about food only to realise it doesn’t meet your expectations? With fresh mushrooms mixed in a bed of fresh arugula leaves and iceberg lettuce mixed with a blanket of microplaned Parmesan cheese and Balsamic vinegar with a tomato cherry on top, I was content with what I ate.
Though sometimes I like to live on the wild side, I was too hungry to take a chance on a new dish; their grilled beef fillet topped with grilled pineapple and caramelised onion looked mouthwatering. As tempting as that sounded, my little Mariam instincts told me to go with the safer option: beef fillet with mushroom sauce with a side of mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The first bite silenced me; beautifully cooked, delicately flavoured, and drenched in mushroom sauce, this was better than mom’s cooking (sorry mom). The flavours were not overpowering and were perfectly balanced; I could tell the chef had allowed the steak to remain the star of this dish.
My elaborate plan to devour most of the menu items failed, given the journey I had just been through. I was titillated by their date gratin; however, my fragile little stomach couldn’t handle any more deliciousness – I was disappointed in myself and disappointed in the size of my appetite. I could imagine the fresh dates glazed with a duvet of hot almond paste and topped with rich sabayon cream… maybe next time. Until we meet again, Topaz.
Photos by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.
Photography by Mariam Raymone.