Kempinski Nile Hotel adds sushi to the Jazz Bar menu
By Kate Durham
In our office, we joke about a food trend being the “new sushi” — cupcakes, waffles and currently burger joints. Sushi itself graduated from trend to culinary staple years ago, and today elmenus.com lists no fewer than 47 restaurants offering the Japanese delicacy in Greater Cairo. Call me a sushi skeptic, but if you want to add yourself to that list, you’d best be doing something really special to stand out. Kempinski Nile Hotel’s new sushi menu, launching this month in the Jazz Bar, promises to have that special something.
Sitting down with me for a sneak peek of his creations, Chef Wael Kheir says his secret to sushi is freshness, explaining that he uses Red Sea and Mediterranean fish. When he has to import fish like salmon, it arrives within 12 hours of being caught. My ‘sneak peek’ sampler included two standards, locally available tuna and imported salmon, served as sashimi (sliced) and ngiri-sushi (slices atop rice). The deep red of the tuna and orange of the salmon were the first clues to its freshness, and the meat was so tender it practically dissolved on my tongue. It was as if the fish was caught eating bonbons on the couch before transferring to the bed of rice on my plate.
Fresh is fantastic, but I expect nothing less of a luxury hotel. Where Kempinski promises to shine is Kheir’s bespoke approach to sushi. There is a menu of standard items, but every night features specials based on the catch of the day and the chef’s imagination. Kheir seems particularly fond of crispy maki (rolls), and his sampler included some intriguing combinations. One featured a filling of tempura shrimp, crab and salmon, topped with marinated minced mango. There is a lot going on here, and I needed to take it in two bites to fully appreciate the blend of tastes. My preference, however, was the tempura shrimp and jalapeno crispy roll, with the mild pepper leaving a warm, zingy afterglow to each piece.
If exotic maki sounds intimidating, never fear. Kheir says he’ll be in the Jazz Bar to explain the specials and suggest items based on each guest’s tastes.
Officially launching September 12, the Kempinski’s new sushi menu at Jazz Bar is available daily from 5pm to 2am. Seating in the intimate Jazz Bar is limited and available on a first-come first-served basis. A soft launch of the menu starts September 1. et
Kempinski Nile Hotel • 12 Ahmed Rageb Street, Garden City, Cairo • +2 (02) 2798-0000