Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cafe Le Caire, Arab St, Singapore

It's 2AM and you're feeling slightly peckish and in the mood for a smackeral of something. That's how I was feeling that Saturday night and after a short thought, decided to head down to Arab St for some Middle-Eastern food. Caire is French for Cairo, but that's about as French-ish as this cafe gets; they don't even serve the crème caramel that I see so often in the Middle-Eastern restaurants in Bangkok.

Even though it wasn't that warm at this time, I decided to cool myself down further with a refreshing glass of hibiscus juice (sans the sugar). This was really quite tart and refreshing and gave me quite a jolt. The taste of hibiscus was clearly evident in this and reminded me of that tea I had at Helio Cafe.

We started with the typical hummus and breads. The breads weren't served warm and were slightly too coarse and dry for my liking. The hummus was pretty good though despite being slightly too strong in the "beany-chickpea" flavor, the fresh wedge of lemon toned that down abit.

The hummus was also served at room-temperature and I'm more used to it being either slightly chilled or deliberately warmed. Then again, I'm probably just nit-picking because it was still quite tasty.

My dining companion ordered the Turkish coffee. Drinking hot and thick coffee at 2AM? Respect. This came in that little espresso cup and just for comparison's sake I've put my guitar pick on the saucer to illustrate how tiny this cuppa was. I had a sip of this and found it not only too sweet but tasted too strongly of Arabic spices as well. I guess the sugar and caffeine concoction was to create their equivalent of Redbull. On a really random aside: I remembered how years ago when we would scull down heaps of Redbull to do an all-nighter before our big exams and it had no effect on us whatsoever. We felt so cheated that we named the beverage "Redbullshit" ever since haha.

Another appetizer, grilled aubergine with yoghurt. The yoghurt is served natural (read as very sour) and if not for the balancing of flavors with the very nicely grilled, melt-in-your-mouth aubergine, I would have probably developed a stomach ulcer. But to be fair to this dish, it does grow on you after a while.

This dish of crispy chicken was recommended by the waiter and although it was nicely charred and crispy, it wasn't really an authentic Egyptian dish. Nevertheless, it went down really well and the wedges on the side were fried fresh too. Didn't taste or see any shrooms in the mushroom sauce though.

The special of the day was mandi kharouf using lamb shoulder. This was excellent, the lamb was well-marinated, grilled and stewed to tender perfection. The accompanying tomato based salsa-like sauce complemented the long-grain rice served with it. Even the cherry tomatoes were crunchy and sweet.

More stuff from the grill. Although the meats may look slightly burnt in the picture (and maybe they were!) the meshawi (mixed grill) pieces were still succulent and tender. The winner in this would clearly be the beef as the chicken and shish kebab tasted rather bland. I do like the odd grilled mushroom which was still very juicy despite being rather charred.

Being pretty full after all this grub, I was only in the mood for one dessert - baklava. I was told their baklava had sold out! But I do understand that baklava is more Lebanese in origin than Egyptian. Where can I find good baklava in Singapore? My quest continues...

This place still keeps it real by cutting out on the frilly bits and should satisfy for about 25SGD per person.


p.s: They have a range of sheeshas here too if you are in the mood for a puff.


:: Pastry Girl :: said...

I used to work around that Area and though I walked past this cafe but never stepped inside to eat. Think it's not really very cheap right? Still a std so not earning any income at all must be prudent.. Btw the hummus is chickpeas right? I love it. Check out O'briens Sandwich bar. Their hummus sandwich tastes great and healthy too! ^^

Anonymous said...

Why is your food all mostly burnt?

Anonymous said...

you read the book :)


D said...

lavender cupcaker: It's definitely not at hawker price but it's alot cheaper than the flashy Middle-Eastern restaurants, this is essentially almost like a coffeeshop so it's pretty no-frills on the decor. Yes hummus is chickpeas, I love chickpeas in most forms, even in a simple curry. O'brien's hummus sandwich is quite good but I normally go for something meatier.

Anon: I know! Chef was abit heavy-handed on the heat? But it still tasted pretty good. I don't mind my meats being slightly charred .