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Don Eatery: the Soul of East Asian Street Food in Cairo

May 9, 2024


The pure joy of eating, and sharing that joy with others, transcends language. Even without understanding the local tongue or the cultural customs, the flavors on their own can connect to the heart.

A single dish, even if it’s small, can be a cultural encyclopedia. It tells stories of the environment that nurtures the ingredients, the values that guide its preparation, and the way people express love and joy.

In Egypt, one of the restaurants that best acts as a culinary encyclopedia for East Asian street food is Don Eatery.

Once you step into Don Eatery, you are transported to the heart of East Asian street food culture. The aromas, the décor – from the chairs to the tables, and even the open kitchen – all recreate the lively atmosphere of a bustling East Asian street corner.

The simplicity, humbleness and affordability of East Asian street food are reflected in the casual atmosphere and signature serving bowls. The menu also showcases the region’s food philosophy, particularly the Korean emphasis on nature and balance. The sweet and sour shrimp dish, for example, balances out the fiery chili sauce by a bed of cool, soothing rice, perfectly capturing the essence of this philosophy.

Credit: Don Eatery

The food also echoes the region’s shores and landscapes, with vegetables taking center stage alongside fresh seafood and meat. Dishes mostly incorporate regional vegetables like pickled onions, avocado, and edamame (Japanese soybeans), with a sprinkle of spring onion and furikake (Japanese rice seasoning).

The hearty ramen and soups, particularly the chicken laksa, offer a taste of East Asian comfort, like a warm hug from across the ocean. The homemade noodles bathe in unique broths, like the creamy red curry option, which is a popular spice born on the streets of East Asia.

It’s also good to keep in mind, however, that Don Eatery’s dishes stay true to their street food inspiration, and are usually meant for rich yet casual bites. Their classic bao buns, which are delicious steamed treats, might be smaller than the traditional portion sizes of Egyptian cuisine.

While Don Eatery offers street food portions, it also reflects a core principle in East Asian cuisine, which emphasizes the joy of communal dining and reconnecting around the table. Sharing these slow bites with others is a mindful ritual in itself, and a way to honor the balance and artistry of the food itself, allowing one to fully absorb the experience.

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