Sushi is one of those foods that have no grey area: people either love it or hate it; there is no in between. Because we certainly love it, we decided to try out one of Cairo’s lesser-known sushi joints: Arigato Sushi & Grill in Sheikh Zayed’s Legenda Mall.
When we arrived, we saw the restaurant’s illuminated sign staring down at us from one floor over like a mirage, but couldn’t figure out how to enter. After asking a waiter from a nearby café, he told us the entrance was actually through Simmonds, the dessert place right below Arigato.
After walking by an assortment of oriental desserts displayed inside Simmonds, we climbed the stairs and were greeted by beautiful flowery wallpaper and an antique-looking door. Inside, the restaurant was dimly lit, with Asian-style paintings on the walls; offering patrons a romantic, intimate atmosphere.
We opted for the restaurant’s All You Can Eat offer, which includes miso soup, an assortment of appetizers, unlimited sushi rolls, and a scoop of ice cream for dessert, all for 250 EGP before service fees and taxes. The All You Can Eat offer is the most logical choice, since the prices of the rolls outside the offer were quite expensive.
As we browsed through the menu, we found out that the offer does not include nigiri sushi, which might disappoint some. We were informed by the very welcoming host that the reason behind this is that the restaurant wants to maintain a reasonably priced offer despite the increasingly high prices of fish, which made sense.
After making the difficult choice of choosing our rolls, the waiter leaned in and quietly counted back how many rolls were ordered by each person, which felt a bit offensive since it made us feel like we were being judged for ordering large quantities. The polite waiter told us this was well intentioned and meant to let people know that large amounts of leftovers were not allowed, otherwise an additional fee might be charged. While we appreciated the sentiment to avoid food waste, we let him know that putting that rule on the menu was more than enough; they didn’t need to count the number of rolls each person took.
A short while later, we were offered some green tea, shortly followed by the miso soup, which was fine; not exceptional, not bad, but just okay –in fact, during our consequent visits we were able to skip the soup altogether to save room in our bellies for what truly counts: the rolls. Before the rolls, however, came the appetizers, which were quite filling. The shrimp konafa was delicious, as were the fried vegetables. The spring rolls and chicken meatballs were good, but we didn’t finish everything so as not to get too full and end up with leftover sushi -especially since it wasn’t clear how the additional leftover fees were calculated.
A while later, the highlight of the evening came, and our table was suddenly filled with wooden boats packed to the brim with mouthwatering sushi rolls. Everything was top notch, starting with the cheesiness of the Philadelphia Rolls, the crunchy texture of the Crispy Shrimp Tempura, and the mild spiciness of the jalapenos in the Dynamite Roll. Other memorable rolls included the Tokyo Roll, which features shrimp tempura topped with crab paste, salmon and teriyaki sauce, and the Fire Salmon Skin Roll (or unagi, as Friends fans will call it), which includes salmon skin, avocado and cucumber topped with a spicy twist. Much to our delight, the host came to the table with four shrimp and salmon nigiri rolls on the house, which was a very sweet gesture that we immensely appreciated.
In the end, we held up our part of the bargain and left almost no leftovers, but we couldn’t leave yet. While we paused to sigh happily after our delicious meal, we were each offered a scoop of tasty ice cream that ended the evening on a very satisfying note.
The reasonable prices, friendly staff and wide selection of rolls definitely make this place worth the long drive to Sheikh Zayed. While the staff still needs to learn how to tactfully broach the ‘no leftovers’ rule, it’s a very small price to pay for an evening of sushi indulgence.