Best bites of 2012, our reviewer’s top picks

With so many restaurants reviewed in 2012, it’s hard to pick our favorites, so we’ve decided to cheat! Here are our top 10 foods from the year from different restaurants and representing different cuisines. More restaurants opened around the city of light and the choice of luscious bites is rocketing.

Liver sandwiches? Rediscover the essence of street food with Ezz al-Menoufy; this humble cart off Dokki Street offers the best liver and oriental sausage sandwiches in town. The meaty delights are wonderfully spiced with chili and pepper giving the mini sandwich a zesty tinge. The meat is well cooked and the liver is thinly chopped and done the Alexandrian way, stir fried with green and hot peppers.

Casual fusion. Cocoon Restaurant in Maadi does the best chicken breast with prunes…the strange mixture is simply heavenly. With tender chicken breasts (juicy!) and a brown sauce sweetened with prunes, you’re likely to lick the plate clean. Accompanied by rice cooked with oranges.

Pomegranate sausages. Tamara took the world of Lebanese food by storm when it opened this year…the Maqanek (oriental sausages) are doused in pomegranate molasses mixed with chili, which creates an incomparable rush of tastes.

Mixed grill. With Turkish soaps on TV and Turkish politics in the news, it’s not surprising that Turkish restaurants have been cropping up left, right and center. Our pick for the best mixed grill in town is the karisik izgara at Anadol downtown. It is not your traditional mixed grill; the meat is tender and the sumac added to the marinade, simply divine.

East meets west. At Wings in Flavors (WIF), the labnah wings simply blew our minds. Although an unconventional mixture — we would have never ordered them if we hadn’t been on a tasting mission — the wings are covered in a generous layer of labna and garlic and the combination is intoxicating.

Contemporary koshary. The koshary bar at Cairo Kitchen is one of the best additions to the town’s delicious menu palette this year. Not only can you pick and choose your favorite koshary ingredients, with the additions of cracked wheat, shrimp in tomato sauce and lentil soup with chicken, you’ve got some very unique koshary options. Don’t forget the fried onion shreds; they are the heart of the dish.

Tex Mex delivery. Gringos — not yet a restaurant, only tdelivery — has taken a bite out of Maadi’s delivery services this year and if it’s not because of the good timing, proper service and yummy food, it’s because of the roast pepper salsa. A concoction that could only come from a chef who is willing to experiment, this condiment has just the right kick of spice and flavor. Dip your chip (or quesadilla) from roast pepper salsa to sour cream to guacamole for a perfect bite.

Yoghurt and cashews. Despite a mediocre review to say the least, the shahi korma at Begum still lingers in our palate memories and we couldn’t leave it out of the mix. Eat the chicken with some pulai rice and wipe the dish clean with garlic butter naan.

Decked out in red velvet. Despite a close battle of cupcake wars, Crumbs red velvet takes the cake (pun intended). With its sour cream frosting and moist red fluffiness, red velvet lovers were mesmerized. For an over-indulgence of red velvet, order their red velvet layer cake a couple days in advance.

Turkish crowned jewels. The jewel in the food crown this year must be the baklava at Osmanly Restaurant, Kempinski. The soft dough is coated with a mildly sweet syrup and layered with generous amounts of buttery paste of pistachio. Savor it.

This piece was originally published in Egypt Independent's weekly print edition.