Cairo is, and always will be, a place where culinary cultures come to kanoodle (ha ha) with the locals.
You can learn a lot about life from a good bowl of noodles; sometimes things can get slippery, other times they can be a bit too firm. No matter the circumstances though, life always finds a way to be delicious. Alright, I kind of made that up to show you how much I like noodles (too much), but seeing as I genuinely love you, dear reader, I’ve compiled a neat little list of the (relatively) best places to up your noodle game.
Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means (I only have so much time to discover places), but I’ve covered a great many Asian establishments, and continue to do so. If I come across something worth adding (or if you’d like to submit an entry of your own), you’ll see it popping up here in the future.
One of the most authentic Chinese cuisine experiences you can get your mitts on, and it’s in Abbaseya – Cairo’s China Town – of all places. Odd choice of name for a Chinese place I know, but there’s a pretty long and creative story behind it; the places used to be an Internet Café called El Amrecany, then it closed down, and they moved in with the restaurant and didn’t bother getting a sign. Go figure.
The Goods: Hand-pulled noodles straight from the Chinamen themselves; these things can send you straight to sleep full of psychedelic dreams after just a single serving. You can peer into the kitchen and see the guy prepping the dough and magically turning it into noodles. Dirt cheap for the quality you get.
The Meh: Quality can be severely impacted by the amount of customers they have (only like seven tables in the whole thing) and time of day (the earlier in the day, the better). If you order anything with meat or chicken, the quantities are comically small (but what you get is flavourful AF).
This isn’t your average Asian place; its cuisine options – though limited – come from the Xin Jiang Province, Turkmanistan, Kurdistan, Russia and all with a hint of Arabian spice to them. Staff are pretty adamant about quality regardless of time (although earlier, again, is best) and it’s in El 7ai El Sabe3 in Nasr City of all places.
The Goods: Authentic, hand-pulled (you can see and hear that too) Uyghur noodles. You’d almost think they’re actually one extremely long, pinky-wide noodle that’s chewy as all hell (and delicious). Portions are great for price and they don’t skimp on the meat (it’s Uyghur). Not too much variety, but goddamn is it a sensual experience.
The Meh: Waiter is kind of an asshole. Parts of the menu are continuously unavailable. Seldom happens, but sometimes the portions can go way off the norm. Waiting time for food is immense, but always worth it.
Bonus: The head chef, Murod, is a delightful man who will ask to take selfies with you, and offer you free Asian Millfeule cake if you order a bunch of stuff. Saintly guy.
I find it hard to talk to Maadi folk who’ve never been to Chinese Dumpling. The place is perhaps the oldest-running Chinese joint in the area, and it only gets finer with age. The noodles – however they’re prepared – have a distinct bite to them, and they don’t end up looking like a pile of sludge. Their selection is massive (and authentic), and the place is just chill.
The Goods: Chill spot on 233 along with Joy Luck and Ghenghis Khan. Enough tables for it not to be too crowded. Service is pretty quick and they also serve beer. Their “Miami Beef Bowl” has perhaps the best noodle soup you can get in Egypt. Inexpensive.
The Meh: You eventually get tired of their low variety when it comes to noodles (but never dissatisfied). Typically close early much like every Asian place, but it’s Maadi; night time is when it comes to life. Meat is typically small, but in large enough portions to even out.
The only (valid) noodle place to count on when it comes to the Zamale/Downtown/Mohandesin area. Selection of either Thai or Chinese noodles is varied enough for it to stay interesting. Can’t tell if they’re handmade or not, but their variety and unusual flavour combos make up for any questionable quality.
The Goods: Nice enough atmosphere (it’s Zamalek). Noodles come in nice portions, and the ratio between noodles, meat and vegetables/other components is pretty spot on. Addition of eggs isn’t too intrusive like other noodle dishes, and the quantity of meat you get is pretty solid. Good for a bad Tuesday.
The Meh: Delivery time is a bitch. It’s expensive as all hell (usually EGP 70+ for a dish) and the quality – although good – does not justify the price. A bit too Thai for my tastes sometimes (but that’s just me). Not a good representation of Asian cuisine in Cairo’s “posh” sector.
Bonus: Their use of scrambled eggs in the noodle dishes is the best ratio of egg to everything else that I’ve experienced so far. It beats just slapping a whole egg on top of the noods.
Another prominent entry to the El 7ai El Sabe3 Asian establishments. Nile Thailand is, all things considered, the most authentic Thai food experience around town. Their selection of items is large and in charge. Noodle dishes are more than just three variations of “fried noodles.”
The Goods: Noodles come in larger quantities than you typically expect. Have a pretty distinct bite to them that compliments the diverse flavours well. Speaking of diversity; Nile has a dozen or so pretty unique and sensational flavour fusions that just set it square in its own category. The soups the noodles can come in are excellent till the last drop.
The Meh: A bit too overwhelming at times with certain spices. Noodles are machine cut, and I doubt are handmade. Waiting time is immense, seeing as it serves dozens of folks at once (and the place isn’t that big). Noodle/meat/veg. ratio is often unstable and not on the side of the noodles. Good for a change of pace, but not a main noodle option.
Bonus: There’s an air-conditioned section you can sit in for an extra EGP 1 per person. Charming.
Here’s the thin and veiny of it, friendo; Lan Yuan is not special by any means. Their noodles (which I doubt are homemade) don’t have much in the way of presentation, but the quantity, the relative quality and the delivery speed? Perfect for those altered states of mind.
The Goods: Pretty great coverage over all of Maadi, the portions are surprisingly huge (especially takeout). You order a thing of noodles (which hace a great bite and a sloppy texture to them) and you get a little tin container barely containing mountains of MSG. Great prices for the value you get, and they rarely dip in ”quality.”
The Meh: A bit too oily (and that’s saying much). Not the most authentic or flavourful Asian experience, but for folks interested in bang for buck more than quality, it’s a no-brainer. Could use a bit more variety.
A literal offshoot of road 233’s famed Asian cuisine, Samrqan Noodles offers something that most Maadi noodle sports lacks; variety. You can find not only standard Chinese (handmade) noodles, you’ll find thick, chewy Uyghur noodles too, as well as a few things similar to ramen, and much more to boot.
The Goods: A lot of variety when it comes to the noodles. Flavour is on point almost every time (except the beef noodles, fuck that). Bang for buck is spot on, and the waiters actually speak Arabic (wow). The place is minimalist and pretty clean, and they have dishes like “beef bandit barrel” and “geriatric chicken.”
The Meh: Closes way too early for its own good. Portions can be on the low side, but flavour makes up for it. Waiting time can be odd some of the time, but it’s not too terrible to complain about. Doesn’t have that grimy charm that other Asian places have; more suited for families.
"But what about Wok n Walk? Panda Express? PEKING????" Look, guy, I'm not adding just any noodle place here (nor are they too subjective). These places are the cream of the noodle crop, and each one offers a culinary experience more than they offer a Tuesday evening meal. If you have ones that sound similar, send them our way before I add them myself, and if you have any self-respect, you'll go try these places with your friends, family, pets or just your sexy self.)