The team behind Middle Eastern favourites Sahara and Le Souk are covering more Soho ground with the recent opening of The Nile, which replaces The Wheel on Hollywood Road (although, curiously, the old name still hangs boldly on the newly painted façade).
As you can guess by the name, as well as the owners’ track record, The Nile specialises in Egyptian cuisine. This time, however, the idea is to take diners on a culinary journey along the banks of the River Nile, serving dishes that are famous throughout this region, made with ingredients found on the fertile banks of the river.
Although I could still vaguely picture the interior of The Wheel, the new restaurant has had a bit of a facelift, and is now adorned with bright colours and beautiful Egyptian lanterns, as well as a number of Middle Eastern-style paintings.
Wanting to sample as many dishes as possible, we began with the vegetarian mezze platter, consisting of hummus, babaganoush, foul, yellow lentil dip, basarah, zaaluk, falafel and mixed olives, served with a basket of piping hot pita bread. Each dip had its own unique flavour and was wonderfully comforting. I was most impressed with the rich, smoky babaganoush, the basarah (pureed broad beans with roasted onion, coriander, garlic and olive oil) and the zaaluk, another delicious aubergine dip. The olives were also exceptional.
If I see haloumi on a menu, I cannot help but gravitate towards it; there is something about the saltiness and squeakiness of the cheese that fills me with happiness. The haloumi salad at The Nile was happiness on a plate. Whilst some restaurants skimp on haloumi, teasing you with just a few little bites before it’s over, here there were three decent-sized, thick-cut slabs of perfectly pan-fried cheese that paired well with the fresh salad leaves and sweet balsamic glaze.
Even though one of the owners gently insisted that we had ordered too much food, we ignored him and shared an Egyptian mixed grill platter for two. This included lamb chops, chicken breast, lamb Kefta and Merguez sausages, all marinated in tahini and the chef’s special spices, before being grilled to perfection and served with veggies, tahini and couscous. Although my lamb chop was a little on the tough side, all of the flavours were divine, particularly the Merguez and the Kefta, whilst the buttery couscous, topped with the rich vegetable sauce, was the perfect accompaniment. I added a dollop of harissa paste, which gave it more than just a hint of fire. We were a little confused by the garlicky veggies, which seemed more Chinese than Egyptian, but they were tasty nonetheless.
Since there is always that trusty second stomach for dessert, we finished with a selection of homemade baklava. These were just sweet enough, without being too sickly and were the perfect end to a lovely, comforting meal.
Prices at The Nile aren’t unreasonable. We paid around $650 for the two of us, with enough leftovers to easily feed a third. Service is also very good, particularly if either of the Egyptian owners are on hand to give you their personal recommendations. It’s a welcome addition to Hong Kong’s Middle Eastern scene and one that I can see a return to for a casual, comforting and most of all tasty meal in the heart of Soho.
G/F, Winning House
26 Hollywood Road
Tel: +852 2431 0475