• A tasty beginning to Egyptian cuisine.

Lessa Faker
The Blue Nile Boat
9, A -Saraya El Gezirah St.
Zamalek Cairo
+20 2 2735 3112

Arriving in a foreign city, jet-lagged and dehydrated, nothing is better than having someone look after you to stop you from falling for tourist scams on the first day.  Ok, well maybe there is something better.  For example, having a local, expertly pick your first meal. Such was my experience in Egypt.

Lessa Faker is the Egyptian restaurant on the Blue Nile Boat.  Lining the banks of the famous river in Cairo, are many big boats acting as restaurants, and in some instances, night clubs.  On-the-water-eateries may sound tacky for us out-of-towners, but if you are after a decent meal, they are a wise place to start.

My host, a fellow food lover, ordered far too much, but I could not stop her when the food was too delicious to not over-eat.  I know food in Melbourne is good (we pride ourselves on our multicultural cuisine), but going to the source is something altogether different.

The bread arrived first, and even this was impressive – puffed up and warm.

The hummus was fresh with a well of oil and whole chickpeas in the middle.  Fresh parsley sat on top.  In my tired state, a dose of this protein-filled dip did me a lot of good and I was thankful for such scrumptious, fresh food.

The felafels were nothing like those back home:  crunchy on the outside, with a moist and spicy centre.  My host encouraged me to eat them with the pita and hummus.  Delicious.

The cheese pastries were a highlight, but be careful of the rounded shaped dough ones, these contain meat, the cheese ones are the triangles.

The vine leaves filled with rice were not as exciting as some of the other dishes but were still delectable.

The tabbouleh was the best I have ever had with a moist mix of parsley, fresh tomato and a subtle, tangy dressing.

I could not stop commenting on how amazing the food was, and how different it was to Middle Eastern meals  back home.  To which my host could only respond: “of course”.

The venue is attractively decorated in an Egyptian, regal style.  The waiters are pleasant and speak limited English.  There is also an English menu (particularly helpful if you have dietary requirements).

We went for a late lunch but the sign out the front of the boat promotes belly dancing from 10pm to 2am Thursday and Fridays, and an Egyptian buffet every Friday from 2pm to 10pm.