Sitting above Fresh Food Market at Palm Hills is the latest addition to west Cairo’s burgeoning fine dining scene, U Palm by U Bistro. A short elevator ride up to the third floor and you are instantaneously teleported into the belly of edgy sophistication. That’s the best way we can put it. A design forged in the mind of gifted architectural designer Karim Mekhtigian of Alchemy Design Studio. U Palm proved to be a thrilling excursion not only for our palates, but for all our senses. We were Alice, and this was a culinary Wonderland.
The food experience is a compelling journey told through one man’s thrilling culinary imagination, with a diverse career spanning three continents, Chef Irfan hailing from Malaysia has ingeniously concocted a precise menu that excites on all fronts.
Leaving the ordering up to the gracious and supremely humble chef, we started with Chicken Yakatori, Beef Skewers, and Foie Gras Profiterole. All three delivered on taste, innovation, and presentation. Next came the Tuna Tataki, and melt-in-your mouth Pan Seared Scallops with a gallery-wall worthy presentation, followed by a flavor-packed Japanese Shrimp Salad. The Tuna Tataki fascinated with a vibrant taste-texture combination, while the beet-root crusted Foie Gras Profiterole was a fiery-red visual delight with a rich, creamy foie gras filling. “We try to be more than contemporary cuisine,” contends the chef, “we try to infuse flavors from Asia and the Mediterranean.”
Next came the Vietnamese inspired Fragrant Beef Broth with wafer-thin, delicate layers of beef cooked in the heat of the soup, and a Seafood Soup that was neither cream-based nor a bisque, but a refreshingly light, aromatic broth. Each with a distinct flavor profile that educated our taste buds anew.
Following the soup, our we refreshed our palates with a lemon sorbet, and were then treated to the Chef’s favorite Squid Ink Pasta, accompanied by marinated shrimp in a bisque sauce. Absolute perfection. Squid ink has a deep earthy flavor, almost nutty, and the Chef’s special shrimp marinade really elevated the whole dish to a paragon level. The final two mains we were regaled with were the Halibut and the Broiled Chicken Thighs. The Halibut is cooked using the sous vide technique, and sits on a bed of sweet-tasting, delightfully surprising fermented cabbage. The Broiled Chicken Thighs came with an uncomplicated, no-cream potato gratin that inspired in its simplicity.
Sipping on mastermind (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) cocktails engineered by mixologist Spiros hailing from Greece offered a respite between bites. Eager to catch our breath and committed to go all the way to the end, two desserts landed on our table. Indulgent and sinful, just the way we like it. An authentic French Mille Feuille to compete with the Parisian best, served with a cooling raspberry sorbet, and a rich Violet Cake made with a mix berries crème brulée, and almond and raspberry cream.
U Palm, we are in love.
Other Menu Options that Appealed & Beverages
Ribs Sliders, Zucchini Flowers, Mushroom Mille Feuille, Australian Lamb Rack, Chateaubriand, Duck Breast, and Mix Berries Cheesecake
A highly sophisticated roster of international spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs, digestifs, champagnes, wines, beers, and more are available. Local wine and beer, signature alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks.
Décor and Ambiance
U Palm is quite spacious, sleek, and sexy. A red statement wall stands as a backdrop to industrial lockers conveniently placed to house your winter coat. After all, who wants to mind their coat when they’re busy savoring delectable gourmand dishes and sipping on inventive cocktail creations. Warm neutral tones and blueish hues marry a modern urban flair with a high-end VIP vibe. Lush green plants bring the whole scene to life, adding a vibrant touch of nature against the sleek and elegant touch of man.
A long well-stocked bar, a glass-walled kitchen (with the sprawling main kitchen tucked away from your eyes), varied seating options, black mirrored glass ceilings and columns, metal chain chandeliers – you are not in suburbia anymore. Think of a 2019 Great Gatsby high-rollers exclusive club, less flamboyant, and more refined.
An entire side of U Palm is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows covered in sheer drapes, sheltering you from the non-descript view, while giving you the feeling of a swanky sky-rise restaurant in a cosmopolitan city. During the day, the massive windows let in daylight that transforms the evening’s sexy vibe into a fresh and energized one.
Clientele Mix: West Cairo residents, businessmen, groups of 30 to 40 somethings, the see-and-be-seen crowd.
Price Range: High end.
Worth Noting: U Palm will be open for lunch starting this month. Reservations are a must. Ask to meet the chef if he’s there when you visit and not tending to the Zamalek U Bistro. Conversation with him is a delight!
Address: Street 88, Palm Hills, above Fresh Food Market.
Tel: 0112 000 0089