I’m so excited about sharing this review with you! I just had the best food experience in a long time! Starting with the place, the staff and the unique ordering and serving style, to the food itself. I loved every minute, and it was all the more enjoyable because it was shared with loved ones.
Vapiano! That musical name that makes your mind travel all the way to Italy, only to find out that it’s a German chain restaurant. What? Yes, I found it odd too, but knowing that Germans perfect everything they do, I was confident that I was in for some authentic Italian food. I was right.
Vapiano (located at Cairo Festival City Mall in New Cairo) has a unique concept of self-service; you pick your dish at the station, wait for it at your table and go back to fetch it when it’s ready. We’re grown quite used to this system in coffee houses and fast food restaurants, but dining? I’ve personally never heard of it. Obviously they cook everything in front of you. And guess what? They make their own pasta – yes, from scratch – and you can watch that too. There’s a whole pasta station on the far side of the place.
The setting is also different from what we’re used to: it mostly has high tables and some regular tables with stools instead of chairs. The outdoor area is a regular café-like seating though… probably customized for us laid back Egyptians.
It’s the perfect place for your lunch hour, or if you’re planning to shop all day and want a fast hot meal that’s far from junk food, and comes with a view of the dancing-fountain. You’d be glad to know they have a huge coffee station and some nice-looking desserts – which I sadly haven’t tasted.
I think that’s enough introduction. Shall we come to the juicy part?
So as I said, they have a pasta and a pizza station. My friend and I decided to get one of each and split them both. Both menus were divided into:
- “Vapiano Della Casa”, which literally translates into “Vapiano of the House” – probably meaning that’s their specialty dishes or something.
- “Classico Italiano”, obviously classic Italian dishes and pizzas, whose names we all know but probably haven’t been eating them right.
- “International Inspired”, a collection of dishes with ingredients from all around the world.
It took us quite a while to pick the pasta. I was looking for something new and different, which was basically every dish in that section!
At last, I picked the “Pollo Piccante”: Tender Chicken Breast, Bak Choy and Bell Pepper in homemade Orange-Chili Sauce. It was the orange-chili sauce that caught my attention, I was bored of white sauce and red sauce isn’t really my thing. Much to my pride, the chef applauded me for my choice; saying this was quite a unique dish that people rarely order.
I loved it. It was one of the tastiest and lightest pasta I’ve eaten in a long while. I don’t remember ordering a pasta without heavy sauce before, and I certainly didn’t regret this dish. The orange-chili is a sweet and sour sauce but not as strong and gooey as the one we’re used to eating in Asian restaurants. It’s light and coats the pasta and its ingredients nicely. The chicken pieces, although few, were nicely grilled and finely cut, while the pepper and Bak Choy were right there between moist and crunchy. As for the pasta itself, I suggest you go ahead with the recommended one for the plate – Pappardelle – as it completes the Chinese feel of the dish.
As for the pizza, we selected the “Pesto Con Spinaci”: Fresh baby Spinach Leaves and marinated Tomatoes on creamy Pesto Sauce and Mozzarella. We picked the Smoked Salmon addition.
Word to the wise: if you’re with a group ordering together, always order your pizza first. The pasta takes around 2-3 minutes while the pizza takes a little longer, maybe 7-10 minutes.
Pizza: I’ve always loved watching people making pizza, and that day was no exception. My friend and I stood for a while talking to Omar in the pizza station; he recommended adding extra Bruschetta – which we agreed to try on half the pizza. The pesto was delicious but a little overpowering the whole pizza. You had to take a bite of Bruschetta and spinach to neutralize the taste (which makes the extra bruschetta a good move). BUT since it was added cold, it cooled up the pizza quickly. (The Bruschetta would have been better if the tomatoes were cut into smaller pieces – but who am I to judge? :)) I also felt the portion of smoked salmon was too small… we had to add get extra! But all in all, it still tasted exquisite! I’m smiling just remembering the taste.
Side salad: I suggest you order salad only as a side, as the portion was just right. You might easily fill up on a regular salad dish. We ordered “Mista Piccola”: Mix of Leafy Salads, Cherry Tomatoes, Carrots and Grana Padano (a famous Italian cheese). I took the Rucola dressing and it went well with them. The whole salad was nice and refreshing.
This restaurant really is a must try and you gotta try several items, so if you’re not going with a group of people where you can share several plates, I suggest you plan two or three visits with your food-loving friends.
Two random things I loved about Vapiano: They have a pasta dish called Ratatouille! And their pasta chef is called Linguini! I don’t know if that pun was intended or that’s really the name of the guy, but I left the mystery unsolved for the next time I visit them.