With Zooba, fuul and taameya meets country store, with rough wood and stone walls, wood shelves and chalk drawings of the restaurant’s quirky logo: two pigeons with a parasol. The shelves are filled with jars of dips, preserved fruits and veggies, and sweet snacks like molasses sticks. It’s mostly do-it-yourself: Place your order at the counter, then pick out your drinks, dips and bread from the shelves and dig in while the kitchen prepares your hot food.
We started with a tomato bessara (LE 16), with lentils and sun-dried tomatoes adding a sharp rich taste to the usually bland fava bean paste. The olive labna (LE 22) has chunks of black olives accenting the yogurt cheese. Even the baladi bread has spinach and beetroot versions — gourmet touches that don’t really affect the taste, but make for a colorful spread at the table.
The juices also lean toward the exotic. The mango with rosemary (LE 13) is a slightly zingy twist on the classic and the doum juice (LE 10) is rarely found at upscale establishments.
We had barely dented the dips when the fuul and taameya arrived. The Alexandrian fuul (LE 17 for a container) had copious amounts of obviously hand-cut strips of roasted peppers, but the onions seemed to be lost in the puree. After the dips, the fuul actually seemed bland.
Not so with the sandwiches. The eggplant taameya (LE 7) had the roasted eggplant mixed in the taameya dough and then fried up, giving the patty a moist smooth texture with a distinct flavor. Despite the warning on the menu, the spicy pepper taameya (LE 7) was not spicy at all, but still flavorful and crunchier than the eggplant version. Both sandwiches included salad as the default.
I was thrilled to find out that Zooba packages its food with leftovers and the environment in mind. The fuul comes in a reusable plastic container; the dips, drinks and pickles come in glass bottles and jars with metal lids. Even the roasted sweet potato (LE 6) we ordered for dessert came steaming hot in a cardboard box. And you carry it all away in paper, not plastic, bags. I left the restaurant plotting future orders for felucca picnics. et
Zooba • 26th of July Street (next to Mex Café), Zamalek • Open 7am-1am Saturday through Wednesday, 7am to 3am on Thursday and Friday • www.zoobaeats.com • Facebook: zoobaeats • Twitter: #zoobaeats • No delivery yet • inexpensive