Hussein is a busy area of Cairo, full of street vendors, tourists, bazaars, cafes and restaurants. The last addition to this conglomeration of aromas and spices is Taj al-Sultan, a café and a restaurant for Middle Eastern and Indian food.
Taj al-Sultan overlooks Azhar and Hussein mosques; it occupies three stories inside an old building on Azhar and Moez streets. Taj al-Sultan’s entrance is small but you won’t miss the neon sign on top of it.
A wooden staircase takes you to a large living area with Oriental wooden tables, Egyptian kilim tapestry and copperware. The windows are big and covered with wooden arabesque shutters. Long white columns systematically separate the tables, holding big torch-like light fixtures.
The roof is a different deal, with a simple setting but great air and a breathtaking view. The roof is big enough for a few tables and lit with tinted glass light fixtures all around the wooden fence that surrounds the tables.
The food menu is huge – but don’t get too excited, because not everything on it is available. It seems that the management minimized its grocery list because less tourists visit the historic neighborhood and hence less clients visit the restaurant.
The items on the menu are Egyptian, Lebanese and Indian. During my visit, no lamb, meat or fish was available so shish tawouk was the ultimate choice, which turned out successfully. The pieces of chicken were cut thinly and breaded. The sambousak was restaurant-made (not ready-made and frozen), crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, especially the spinach.
The fattoush was a bit vinegary and pita bread was used instead of the Lebanese bread. The tahini was OK.
The drinks were also OK; mango is the best choice for fresh juices but the tangerine is watery and lacks sugar. Lemon with mint is a good choice as well as the cocktail. The other drinks are strawberry and guava.
The shisha was also good; most of the flavors are available. They're basic flavors and don't get too creative – in other words, Red Bull shisha isn’t an option.
The service was efficient and speedy, probably because the place doesn’t get as many visitors as before due to the tourism decline.
The prices are slightly high, which is a bit odd because most places in the area are desperate for clients. Main courses cost up to LE70, while appetizers range from LE25 to LE40.
Overall, the place is a nice change from all the contemporary and retro cafes and restaurants in downtown Cairo. I would definitely go back and recommend Taj al-Sultan to friends.
Address: 1 Azhar Square, Hussein
Telephone: +2 02 27877273/4/5