Once inside, noticing that no-one was prepared to recommend menu options, my expectations were all over the place.
Astonished by its heavy 1990s sober style, I found myself on the second floor, which was completely empty, so I picked one of the tables and sat down and waited for my companions while observing the large signs with Wi-Fi passwords printed on the wall above every table.
We finally managed to order a few things from the menu, although we had also the option to choose from the table itself — where there were a few photos beautifully printed with names and some cheeky spelling mistakes. After waiting what seemed a long time for the food to come, it successfully arrived all at once.
Saved by the Food
Presented in a tidy and cute display, our choices were a selection of Egyptian dishes. The country’s culinary history, a legacy of a mixture of different civilizations, is rich in legumes, vegetables and fruits thanks to the fertile Nile valley and delta.
It was my first contact with Egyptian cuisine. We began with a light and creamy hummus (VND50,000), which was not quite as intense as we would have liked but perfectly satisfactory. This was a good side dish, together with the Egyptian falafel (VND55,000), which came along with a refreshing yogurt dip. In Egypt, this deep-fried patty is made of fava beans, which makes the falafel lighter and moister than chickpea versions elsewhere in the Middle East.
I enjoyed the lentil soup (VND45,000). It was incredibly tasty and creamy, probably thanks to the addition of some tahini. We helped ourselves to a squirt of lime, which transformed the dish into something exceptional. With croutons, this made the soup into a winner.
We were then recommended to try the charcoal chicken, and it did not disappoint. Tender inside and crispy outside, it was a pleasant on the palate with a smoky aftertaste. Less of a standout were the okra soup (VND68,000), which seemed to be more like a simple tomato soup that lacked personality and the fattoush salad (VND60,000), a veggie salad topped with toasted bread pieces and a lemon dressing. To get through this Egyptian feast we ordered a few smoothies for VND49,000.
Eating at Sahraan was an interesting experience, which thanks to the service turned the writing of this review into a challenge. However, the food — though a bit pricey for the type of local restaurant it was — was a definite plus point.
The lentil dish was our clear favourite, and in fact our overall opinion of the restaurant takes its cue from the humble lentil. In Spanish there is the expression ‘Lentejas: si las quieras las tomas y si no las dejas’, meaning, ‘lentils, one can take it or leave it’. — Natalia Martinez
Sahraan opens every day from 9am to 11pm and is at 6 Truong Dinh, Q1, HCMC