We sample sweet and savoury options in Egypt’s answer to a pie shop – in Deira.
Recently opened in Deira, Soarikh is named after a well-known restaurant in Alexandria, and serves a selection of traditional Egyptian street food. Outside is a seating area featuring the atmospheric hustle and bustle of a street café. Inside, waiters frantically manoeuvre around a minuscule space: there’s a pastry counter and oven where the chef kneads and spins dough into submission to create pizzas and Egyptian pies, aka ‘feteer meshaltet’. Also hidden away upstairs is an ordinary indoor dining space.
We took a seat outside: the terrace was fairly busy and occupied by people of various Arabic nationalities.
Service was often testing throughout our visit, but thoroughly friendly and well meaning. Communication was difficult, and we had a few issues explaining our requests. But the impression was that despite the communication problems, the waiter was genuinely trying to help.
On his advice, we ordered the special Soarikh starter platter, which he explained contained most of the best bits from the menu. It took some time to arrive, but once it did the pizza and pie followed very soon after, until we had a table groaning under the weight of the food. The dishes on the service platter were all cold, even the French fries. I was unsure whether this was intended or accidental, but I think several of the flavours suffered as a result. The selection included some unusual falafel with a very bready, spongey consistency, foul doused with plenty of olive oil, great cauliflower fritters with a gooey cheesy sauce inside (imagine deep-fried cauliflower cheese), tasty fried aubergine, fried bread chips (great for dipping in the foul and tahina), some fiery, chilli-spiked pickled vegetables, a handful of French fries and plenty of Arabic bread.
We ordered the mixed-meat pizza on the waiter’s suggestion, which was a thick, cheesy, topping-packed affair, covered with sausages, pastrami and minced meat, although it wasn’t great. The feteer meshaltet was moreish, with crisp layers of pastry folded in on itself, giving it a great crunchy texture. We’d ordered a variety with pastrami and it was extremely salty: unfortunately this meant we couldn’t finish it.
Finally we experimented with the sweet pies. The chocolate pie took 45 minutes to arrive (nice as he was, I suspect the waiter forgot our order). In the same style as its savoury cousin, it was covered with chocolate spread, but it worked very well. Inside, parts of the pastry had taken on a wetness that had a gooey edge, creating a custardy texture amid the crispness and ensuring we enjoyed this dish most of all.
The bill (for two) 1x Soarikh platter Dhs15 1x mixed meat pizza Dhs30 1x cheese and pastrami pie Dhs20 1x chocolate pie Dhs15 2x small water Dhs4 Total (excluding service) Dhs84