Friday, 24 February 2012

Shark Restaurant, Dahab, Egypt

I had read the previous reviews on Trip Advisor (aka my food and travel bible) and realised I had definitely wanted to experience Shark.

When walking through Masbat at Dahab, every single restaurant has a guy standing out the front convincing you that his restaurant is worth at least looking at the menu. I liked having the excuse that I had a 'date' Ie food at Shark.

The menu was varied... fairly standard chicken, beef seafood pizza etc. I was definitely keen for some seafood and all the fish I had eaten since being in Egypt had been delicious.

I was shown to my table a booth beside the window with the most extraordinary views.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't slightly disappointed that there was no beer on the menu, but i settled for Diet Coke. As a smoker I can't really express my pleasure at having ashtrays inside at restaurants here. I know it is selfish, unhealthy, and dirty, but it takes me back (surely I am too young to be saying things like that!)

A really lovely and sensible offering of hand santitiser was offered... a great idea.

While perusing the menu in more detail I was brought my complimentary bruschetta. It was delicious, and cute in the way that it was served on toasted white sliced bread.

Shortly after this I was brought a tray that contained 2 good sized fish. I could tell by the fresh sea smell and their crystal clear eyes that they were probably caught that morning. I was explained that I can have the whole fish (there was much of the conversation I missed through my very inefficient understanding of the Egyptian accent) but I thought I'd go for it, it looked amazing and was a Sea Bass so I ordered one served with spinach sauce. And the fried calamari to start.

A set of scales were then brought to my table and the beautiful fish was laid upon to show me the weight ( a tasty 600g) and the price was shown to me based on the weight (140Le).

I gazed out at my stunning surrounds while sipping my coke and smoking my cigarette.

My second complimentary dish then arrived. A basket of 2 freshly baked flat breads puffed and full of steam, and 3 saucers: hummus, babaganoush and coleslaw. (It was now I was starting to wander if perhaps ordering a starter and a main might be OTT.

Each of the dips were superb. Egypt does houmus so much better than anywhere else I have been! The slaw was okay, but genuinely ignored by me as I dug into the other morsels on offer.

After every cigerette my ashtray was replaced. After every course my table was wiped down.

The calamari promptly arrived.  Very simply yet elegantly arranged. The batter was delicious and contained a herb or spice that I couldn't put my finger on, though not perfectly crisp, still more-than acceptable. The squid was tender and cooked perfectly.

My fish then triumphantly made its way to my table looking regal and very tasty. As it was placed in front of me, already feeling nearing full, I couldn't wait to dig in. And that I did.

Having never eaten a whole fish before, I can safely say that I wasn't prepared for the mouthful of small bones that followed. This was certainly going to be an experience.Two more bone filled mouthfuls later I was beginning to feel defeated.

It was now that the waiter arrived, offering to fillet the fish for me. Hallelujah. Now, I thought that filleting a fish would be a 10 second job. I was very wrong. As my wonderful waiter filleted he would put the delicious, tender flesh on a separate plate, and said i was to start eating. Around 12 minutes later he finished. I asked if they do this for every whole fish that was ordered, he replied enthusiastically 'yes'.

The main was incredible. And i was brought back to when I lived on the sunshine coast, when we would catch a fish off out back jetty, gut and scale it, and throw it straight on the barbeque. Only this fish was so much taster. The skin was so flavoursome. The veges and rice were all cooked to perfection but were so much in the shadow of the fish that the memory of them almost alludes me.

I forged through. I was full not even a quarter of the way through, but I couldn't stop.
Upon completion my plates were removed and I ordered another Coke to have a brief sit and get myself back to a place where I would be able to get myself home that didn't involve rolling, or being placed on a cart or stretcher.

My hands were then washed for me, with lemon and warm water over a copper bowl.

I finished my Coke and asked for the cheque. 'Why must you leave so soon?' I was asked. I was desperate to use a bathroom, and wasn't sure of the lavatory situation in well, Egypt! So I asked. I was lead through to an area across the main street to a very lovely bathroom attached to the kitchen. Then returned. I didn't want to leave. I had one of the most spectacular views in the world. The cheapest cold Cokes and a comfortable breezy seat.

I resumed my sit and had a read of my book and ordered a coffee.

'Have you smoked shisha?' I was asked. I hadn't. Well I had once at a party when I was about 20. Did I want to? Yes of course... When in Egypt...

The shisha was brought to my table. I quick demonstration then left to myself to enjoy the lovely peachy smokiness with my coffee and my book.

Now i was relaxed, full, well into the digestion process and very very happy.

My gripe. The cats. The second my calamari was brought to my table, so came the cats. They were adorable, and very well behaved. But it is something I was not used to. It appears to be very common here, and the waiters would squirt them with water at every chance. But of course. It can't be helped.

I love this restaurant. The service was flawless. The views unbeatable. The food equal to any good restaurant I have tried in Oz or the UK. The price amazing. I am already planning my next visit.

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