On another journey to try out interesting, quality food in Cairo, we decided to stop by the Latin American restaurant hidden in one of Maadi’s small side streets. On the corner of the street we could already see the words Tabla Luna, its colors of red and yellow ringing out as if to direct us to its door. Upon entering, the music is beautiful and the atmosphere is superb; it is in fact like travelling to another place.
We sat down at the behest of a smiling waiter who informed us that the menu was on the walls. When we looked up, it was a bit overwhelming. The wall was covered with items written in chalk and seemed like it was too much to handle. That being said, once our eyes adjusted to the chaos on the wall we were finally able to order.
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The young man serving our table excused himself, leaving us to revel in the place while we awaited our food. While the writing on the wall may have initially been chaotic, the colors, the furniture and the general atmosphere of the place were all very cozy while simultaneously uplifting.
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A while later, the appetizers we had ordered emerged in the hands of our exuberant waiter. Two plates: an Argentinian dish called Empanadas Queso which was a hot and crispy turnover similar to a sambousek and filled with cheese and corn. The other dish was called Camote, which is an assortment of sweet potato chips and croquettes that come with a side order of coriander sauce.
Image from Mada Masr
The empanadas were superb; the dough was just the right thickness and the filling was both crunchy and creamy because of the corn and the cheese. Our only issue with the empanadas was that the portion was a bit disappointing compared to the price. The Camote on the other hand is elegant in its simplicity and cooked to the right crispiness, with flavors that complement each other; cinnamon and what tastes like brown sugar. Once these flavors were introduced to the coriander dip and made contact with our taste buds, we all simultaneously wished we had constant access to this dish.
As we nibbled on the appetizers until there was nothing left in our plates, the empty dishes were removed to make room for the main courses.
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First was the Aji de Gallina, a Peruvian dish that includes very thinly shredded chicken with Peruvian chilies in a creamy sauce served over rice and potatoes. This dish looked so good we were afraid to eat it. We could not handle the disappointment of it not holding up to its appearance. Fortunately for us, it did not fall short of our expectations. The creaminess provided by the width of the chicken shreds along with the creamy sauce and the rice made it almost yoghurt-like. The sauce was what held the entire dish together; providing a festival of flavors in the mouth that was not over the top nor fell short of our expectations. The chicken itself maintained a sort of raw-ish taste, which was slightly inconvenient, but the sauce took care of that completely.
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As we were a quarter of the way through our Peruvian dish, we were approached by the waiter once again to deliver our second main course; The Confused Argentinian. This is a vegetarian dish that is made of sweet potato gnocchi in a creamy roasted pepper spinach sauce. We assume that the dish gets its name from the fact that Argentina is famous for its steaks and beef in general, so for there to be an Argentinian dish that is vegetarian seems counter intuitive, we’re not sure. What we are sure of is how much we loved this dish and how there was no confusion surrounding how fast it got eaten. The texture of the gnocchi was perhaps the best we had had in a while, and the sauce made every bite seem like the first bite.
While we thought the empanadas had set the tone for the portions, we were sorely mistaken. The two main courses were extremely filling and the portions were more than appropriate, which was a refreshing surprise and an obstacle to us ultimately gathering up the energy to leave at the end of the day.
Even though we were full at this point, we could not leave before we had tried their dessert as well. Friends of ours had tried the Torta De Tres Leches and told us that it was going to blow our minds. Once we first saw the dessert, it looked like a piece of abstract art and we weren’t sure what to expect. This moist and spongy cake seemed lighter than air when we took our first bite, as we all let out noises of approval as we chewed. The cake’s moisture comes from being soaked in three types of milk, and the piece de resistance is the topping of the cake with soft meringue.
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Tabla Luna is definitely a restaurant worth checking out for quality cuisine that will challenge your palate. However, make sure you’re not strapped for cash before you go there because while the portions turned out to be excellent and the quality was equally excellent, it is rare to find true excellence for cheap.