Cairo's Bits & Places: Shisha

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Written by Yehia O.

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Apple, please.

“What would you like to have?” Said the waiter and I replied, ” Apple, please”

You would think I ordered juice or even a fruit salad, or some eccentric cafe that serves fruits as they are. But it’s none of those; it’s the shisha’s flavour.

Before I started smoking shisha myself, it didn’t make sense to me why anyone would bother smoking a fruit when they can eat it! It’s healthier, cheaper, portable, and you can eat it in front of anyone (we all have hidden at some point from a family member or someone we prefer not to let know we smoke and I’m most certain you have someone in mind as you’re reading this). Basically, it made no sense whatsoever, but this article isn’t about why fruit is more convenient. It’s about a little scoop of the shisha culture here in Cairo.

Shisha (or less preferably “Hookah”) probably has more flavours than any other product I’ve known. It doesn’t stop at one sole flavour and has all these different mixtures. Some of the known ones are vanilla/coconut, lemon/mint, raspberry/grapes, bubblegum/watermelon, guava/lemon and orange/vanilla. If you ever happen to get some flavours like blue cocktail, green cocktail or strawberry ice cream, which you could probably find in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf Region, you won’t believe how good and dense they are. I have come across some peculiar mixtures that were mostly offered to me by friends. One of them was apple/lemon (80 percent apple & 20 percent lemon), and it was surprisingly amazing. However, when I did order it in some other café, it was horrible. So I’d recommend that if you’d like to give it a try, it might be best to setup the “7agar” yourself.

As much as there are so many places that serve shisha, not many know what they’re doing, or else they would put enough effort into setting the setting of the shisha properly. Surprisingly, there are some places that can set up certain flavours well, and suck at the rest, and that would probably be traced back to how keen they are on doing what needs to be done, whether cleaning up the shishas, changing the water or adding actual fruit to it, the coal size and placement and lots of other factors included.

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Na2na2a.

One of the places I like that sells shisha, which is not very pricey if compared to cafes overall, would be “Na2na2a”; they really spoil you. Starting from their colourful shisha menu, matching the colour of the shisha to the flavour itself (for example, you order apple flavoured shisha; you’ll get a red setting). It looks so good, and the flavours are also great. Another place I’d like to mention is “Wel3a” in Zamalek. They really tempt you with their unlimited offers. However in my experience, there was never a consistent quality. At times, the “7agar” burns so fast you don’t get to enjoy it as much and at other times, it’s pretty good. However, the one thing that I did like in “Wel3a” is the unlimited offer of “me3asel”.If you’re into that, you’ll probably have a great time especially if you’re sitting in their new branch. Since it has a nice view of the Nile, you can smoke me3asel with a cup of tea (no, not a teapot as they claim, unfortunately. Let’s hope they change their minds!) “a5er mazag”. They also have a great selection, which isn’t always available at other places. One of the cafes that most people have heard of or have been there is “ahwet Aswan”. The apple and lemon flavours there are really good, and the prices are friendly.

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Wel3a cafe in Zamalek.

Shisha has a culture of its own. With the right setting, the right company of people, the right flavour and the right cafe, shisha can make your night a truly magnificent and “mazag” filled one.

For you shisha fans out there, give us your own take on shisha culture and the places you see are the best ones that offer that kind of “mazag”.  

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