FoodLife & Style

Wabi Sabi: Sushi in style

The most striking characteristic of excellent sushi is its freshness, as many of us sushi-lovers know. This delicate element can make or break any sushi joint, especially in a city like Cairo.

The Egyptian capital, so far away from Southeast Asia where sushi first appeared, is buzzing with new sushi spots, but only a few are worth your while. Wabi Sabi sushi is among the selected few.

The restaurant, famous for its location in Heliopolis, has opened a new branch in the Nile City Towers. The location boasts a funky atmosphere and a great view of the Nile. Inside are round tables placed randomly throughout the venue and high bar seats next to a long table facing the Nile. The decor is creative, with wooden boards on one side that form a wooden tree, and tin-foil swans flying out of the wall on the other.

Ordering sushi from Wabi Sabi's long menu can be tricky; for the inexperienced sushi eater the names seem to blend into each other. The brief descriptions and lack of photos can cause confusion, but the items in general are tasty and made with care. And the waiters are happy to help guide you through the menu.

While the cuisine is dubbed “Sushi Couture,” Wabi Sabi doesn’t offer anything special that you won't have seen in other sushi restaurants around town. But the Nigiri, Sashimi, Tamaki and Maki are made with such delectably fresh ingredients that the taste is not matched by any other sushi joint in Cairo.

Presentation can be everything when it comes to restaurants. The presentation of the three sets of sushi I ordered was smart and colorful, treating your eyes before your taste buds, in anticipation of the upcoming pleasure of eating the food.

We ordered Rainbow Ura Maki, eel avo, and fried rolls. The sushi rolls were made with care, making sure the rice doesn't crumble the minute it touches the soy sauce. The three sets were equally delicious, but the spider-fried rolls were a highlight, with their unique, warm taste. The tart of the day (a Mars bar tart) was an amazing finale to a much-enjoyed dinner.

But the experienced sushi taster would have wished for more. So many different sushi items and types have not yet broken into the Egyptian market, including Oshizushi (a block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako), Inarizushi (a pouch of fried tofu filled with usually just sushi rice), Chirashizushi (a bowl of sushi rice with other ingredients mixed in), and Narezushi (a traditional form of fermented sushi).

These items are all available for the newly opened sushi places to offer. Such a decision would allow them to shine among the traditional Cairo sushi spots, but the newly opened places seem to prefer to serve up what has previously been successful, rather than exploring new options.

A dinner for two at Wabi Sabi won’t exceed LE250, and the restaurant delivers from both branches.

Heliopolis: 100 al-Marghani Street. Tel: 24141045

Nile City Towers: 105, Cournich al-Nile. Tel: 017 2010002

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