RESTAURANT REVIEW – SHOGUN (Japanese)

Travelers always want to soak in local experiences and taste local cuisine when they are visiting new countries and regions. But let’s face it – when you spend five to ten days in another country and you’re eating three meals per day, you’re going to crave some of your favorite foods from back home.

In places like the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, and most metropolitan areas of nearly any country, we have an endless supply of global food choices available to us within short distances. And we all have our favorites, whether it be our own local cuisine or those savory Italian pasta dishes, sizzling American steaks, soy-soaked Chinese noodles and orange-glazed meats, spicy Thai dishes, or lemony Mediterranean salads and dips – or all of the above!

However, one of the hardest types of food to find in Egypt is Japanese food, especially anything that’s authentic, freshly cooked, and prepared in a guaranteed sanitary environment. There are a few scattered “sushi” shops or allegedly “Japanese” places randomly scattered throughout central Cairo, but I wouldn’t trust them with my stomach, especially on a relatively short trip on which you’re trying to maximize every day for sightseeing and new experiences and during which you cannot afford to get food poisoning and be laid up sick in bed for the next two days.

The only place I’ve found so far in all of Egypt that I trust to make real Japanese food like visitors expect and crave from time to time is Shogun in the InterContinental Citystars. Shogun is also the only restaurant I’ve seen in Egypt with a tableside hibachi grill where the food is prepared right in front of you just like the hibachi-style Japanese restaurants we’re all used to back home.

Shogun serves a full range of delicious Japanese fare, from grilled teriyaki-flavored and wasabi-brushed meats to various styles of fried rice and noodles to all types of fresh colorful sushi, including maki, nigiri, and sashimi.

For seafood lovers, there are some wonderful variations on traditional Japanese soups that are infused with additional fresh seafood, such as the spicy lobster miso or their signature kaisen jiru soup with lobster, shrimp, squid, octopus, and sea scallops. There are also non-soup seafood appetizers too, but my favorite appetizers at Shogun are the spicy edamame, crunchy shrimp, ebi gyoza, and the ebi tempura. I could make an entire meal out of just the appetizers at Shogun, but it would be such a shame to fill up early and miss out on the best parts of the menu later.

That’s why I’d recommend budgeting at least two hours for an evening experience here. Come sit down, interact a little with the wait staff who are all super welcoming and conversational, have a drink first (I love getting started at Japanese restaurants with a shot or two of good sake, either warm or cold), order a soup to start, try a few appetizers over the course of 30 or 40 minutes, relax, give your food time to digest, have another drink or two, then ease into a main course or two, taking time to savor each bite as well as the meal and experience as a whole.

When it’s time to move on to your main courses, a chef will come out and fire up the hibachi grill around which you’re seated and begin prepping the fresh ingredients for the dishes you’ve ordered. Here’s where some of the hardest choices come in – narrowing down the options and actually picking from among so many items, all of which sound – and are! – way too delicious.

If you have your favorites at Japanese restaurants back home, you’ll find them here. And if there is something you like that you don’t see on the menu, just ask. The staff at Shogun are super friendly, flexible, and accommodating, especially the head chef who hails directly from Japan – Chef Komatsu.

All Japanese restaurants can do vegetable and/or meat fried rice, and Shogun is no exception, but here they also make a special katsu curry rice with Japanese-style curry, vegetables, steamed rice and either breaded beef, chicken, or shrimp. They also get creative with different styles of noodle dishes, including yaki udon and tempura udon, both made with Japanese inaniwa noodles, and of course an amazing ramen as well.

For sushi, they’ve got everything you can think of. If you like both sashimi and maki, the combination platters are a good value to mix the options up a little at the table. They also have their own unique creative rolls, such as the Shogun maki, the volcano role, and the “super” California roll, in addition to your more traditional rolls like the well-known California roll, spicy tuna roll (my favorite!), and Philadelphia roll.

For those of you who aren’t into sushi or perhaps aren’t feeling Asian food that night but you’re with someone who is dying to get their fill of good Japanese food while in Egypt, you’re in luck too because Shogun has some other amazing options to throw on the grill for you so that you can join in on the experience. They also have a juicy ribeye steak, marinated salmon, fried chicken, and creamy garlic grilled shrimp.

After devouring your selections for this course, this is another point where you should pause, have another drink, a glass of wine, or a digestif, and make some room for dessert. I don’t often eat desert when I dine out, but I’ve had many of Shogun’s deserts and can guarantee that you’ll want to try at least one or two of these unique creations.

I love crème brulee and cheesecake anywhere, and they’re already so good that it’s hard to make them even better. But this place takes them to a new level with an infusion of lemongrass flavor into each. There’s also a pistachio cake with passion cream for those craving cake, and I’d recommend complementing any of these with an order of green tea ice cream on the side. I promise you will not be disappointed.

The dining experience at Shogun in the InterContinental Citystars in Cairo truly rivals haute cuisine experiences in any major global city. Whether you find yourself craving Asian food one night while you’re visiting Egypt or you are just a lover of great dining experiences anywhere, Shogun should be on your list of places to experience while you’re in Cairo.

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