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No trip to Egypt is complete without at least one visit to a koshary restaurant. These Egyptian "fast food" restaurants offer only one thing: koshary (macaroni, lentils, rice, chick peas and fried onions smothered in spicy tomato sauce). El-Tahrir is considered one of the best. The marble floors here are kept immaculately clean and it is hassle-free. Simply order at your table and pay on the way out. Koshary comes in three sizes and each table provides two bottles - one contains hot chili sauce and the other is a garlic, lemon and spice mix. Soft drinks are available too. Abou Tarek is one of the most famous restaurants in Cairo, if not the whole of Egypt. It's not the sort of place you go to for a lingering, four course meal, because it really serves only one thing: koshary. Koshary is the best contender for Egypt's national dish, and it's certainly the food that Egyptians living abroad miss the most. Koshary is a carbohydrate bomb: a mixture of different types of pasta, mixed with lentils, chickpeas, fried onions and a sort of tomato salsa. You then season it to taste, with a combination of chilli sauce and a surprisingly fiery lime juice and garlic concoction. It's fast food at its best: cheap, filling, and surprisingly tasty. While you can get koshary on pretty much any street corner in Cairo, the koshary at Abou Tarek is particularly tasty. There's a high turnover of customers, so it's always freshly made, and pleasingly moist. As befits this no-frills dish, Abou Tarek restaurant is a simple affair: long metal trestle tables, with a splash of greenery about the walls. Service is very quick, and the staff are used to tourists and are pretty welcoming. The only choice you have to make is whether you want a small or large dish of koshary, and what the best drink is to counteract the burning throat induced by a reckless dollop of chilli sauce!


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