The first time I heard of Sasho Bistro (6G El Adel Abu Bakr St., across from the HSBC building) was at this spring’s Taste of Zamalek food fest at the Fish Garden. Having opened in late December 2012, the new Zamalek eatery was only just then hitting its stride. Ahmed Harfoush performed his jazz standards on that lovely Saturday afternoon, and hence it was fitting that the first time I walked into the restaurant itself, it was also with Ahmed. “You have got to try the salmon fried egg,” he said in his usual mischievous manner. “I’m addicted.”
One can see why. The dish, which is composed of wrapping a fried egg in smoked salmon and laying it on toast, hits all the right notes. If you order this for breakfast (9am to 12-ish) the first time you go to Sasho, it is unlikely you will ever get around to trying any other dishes.
“The salmon fried egg was my idea,” Sherin Osama told me proudly. It was a good idea. In fact this whole place is a good idea, just what Zamalek needs, which is saying a lot considering how many restaurants have opened on the island these past two years. But there is nothing quite like this.
Sherin explained that she was ready for a life change—the “seven-year itch” she called it—and that after working as a tour guide for years, and then a another stretch working in the real estate business, she decided to open a bistro along with her sister, Hanya. “We were thinking of something along the lines of L’Entrecôte in Paris,” she explained.
The sisters have done a marvelous job, and while they might have been inspired by L’Entrecôte, this charming little bistro is most decidedly their own, unique in its own way, and unique to Cairo. With the help of interior designer Shahinaz Fouad, and paintings by Mira Shihadeh, who did the artwork at La Bodega, the women have created a soothing beige and brick environment with large picture windows, plenty of light, simple yellow flower arrangements the day I was there, and soft background music that is cheery and uplifting but allows you to have a conversation. The entire feel of the place is cheery and uplifting; perfect for a Friday morning breakfast or casual Saturday lunch. Even just for a coffee, for they serve Lavazza, which is another reflection of the ladies’ insistence that everything they touch is tasteful and comme il faut.
And another thing: no smoking! Which is a welcome addition—or perhaps I should say subtraction—to the city’s dining scene. There are sidewalk tables if you need your cigarette after your meal, but inside it is thankfully not allowed.
The menu is as simple, clean and carefully thought out as everything else at Sasho Bistro. Beyond the endlessly satisfying salmon fried egg, there are all the usual egg dishes made to order. There is also melted cheese toast, an omelet wrap, white cheese and tomato, labneh with olive oil, and fuul any way you like it.
For lunch there is a Sasho burger, a soup of the day, assorted salads and pastas, including a vegetarian option, and for dinner grilled chicken breasts with a cream sauce and a beef fillet. There are also a variety of wraps. My fillet wrap was tender, colorful and perfectly seasoned. Rosemary and garlic are the predominate flavors in many dishes, along with the ubiquitous grilled vegetables, which gives the sunny menu a Mediterranean touch. The portions are large and the prices reasonable. The most expensive dish is the fillet at EGP80. Salads range from EGP20-30, wraps EGP25-35 and pastas EGP25-40.
Sherin is there most days, and with her background in tourism and real estate, she is engaging and fun to talk to, which is one of the highlights of this beautiful, simple and warmly welcoming little restaurant. Well done sisters. Zamalek thanks you.