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Eastern vs. Egyptian Arabic and Cairo restaurant recommendations

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Apr 17th, 2008, 07:32 AM
  #1
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Eastern vs. Egyptian Arabic and Cairo restaurant recommendations

My friend and I are doing a tour in November to Egypt and Jordan. I like to learn a little of the language before I travel to a place (have used Pimsleur CD's in the past) and noticed that there are different audiotapes of Eastern and Egyptian Arabic. Is one better than the other to learn? Are they very different?

Also, we will have 2 nights in Cairo free for dinner. Can anyone recommend some of their favorite restaurants. I haven't seen many posts in my reading. Thanks to all for your help in answering my questions.
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Apr 17th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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Most people in the Middle East are familiar with Egyptian Arabic because Cairo is the center of the ME film industry so its movies television programs are in Egyptian Arabic. The converse is not true.

What type of restaurant do you want? Expensive, Egyptian, Italian?
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Apr 17th, 2008, 05:56 PM
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Thanks Sunshine for your reply. I will look for the Egyptian Arabic version of Pimsleur. As to restaurants and price range, from $20-50 pp, types of food, we like seafood, Italian, French, Asian, would be interested in trying a good Egyptian restaurant, we're quite open to various types of food. Since this is our first trip here, I have no idea of where things are, neighborhood wise, Cairo looks so huge. Any recommendations are appreciated.
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Apr 17th, 2008, 11:53 PM
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I have a copy of the Pimsleur CD's and they aren't all that good. I started using them after living here some time and knew most simple Arabic, and was hearing such odd ways to say things on the CD that I finally asked an Egyptian friend what she thought of the CD. She fell apart laughing. She said they had many of the expressions wrong. I think the first one they have wrong on the first CD is how to say "Excuse me" as in Excuse me, what is your name - or something like that. The Excuse me is completely wrong for the useage they are teaching you. Be careful about memorizing what they teach as many people may think you are nuts when you say whatever you learned. LOL
If you can find an Arabic friend that can listen to the CD first and explain what will be useful and what isn't so useful that may help.

Now, about restaurants - what hotel are you in. That will help us help you find one.
Otherwise, if you know the neighborhood you will be in, look at this website to look over menus from all sorts of restaurants all over Cairo and Alexandria - www.otlob.com

Have a great trip.
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Apr 18th, 2008, 12:13 AM
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There are several Egypt experts on this, so I defer to their superior knowledge.

However, I would definitely recomment Abu-as-Sid in Zemalek and Naguib Mehfouz Cafe (sp?) in Khan-al-Khalili market.
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Apr 18th, 2008, 02:49 AM
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We had a fantastic meal of koshary at the Abou Tarek Restaurant in downtown Cairo. They have a web site & you can Google "Abou Tarek" to get more information. The restaurant was constantly busy with locals, and the meal was amazing. Koshary is a local dish that combines macaroni, rice, spaghetti, lentils, chick peas, garlic and fried onions with a spicy chili sauce. I think we paid about $4 U.S. for a large portion. We took a cab from the Nile Hilton & it only took about 5 minutes to get there. It really was an authentic Egyptian meal and well worth the trip!
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Apr 18th, 2008, 09:06 AM
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TMP - I'm sure it was 4 EGP not $4 USD. You could have bought a whole LOT for $4.... even at Abou Tarek.

It's probably a little more these days as macaroni, rice, and all the ingredients are much more expensive these days....but it's still an inexpensive meal for tourists.

Enjoy!
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Apr 18th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Thanks Debbie for your input on the Pimsleur. Rather disappointing to hear that. I don't know if any of the other companies like Berlitz, Rosetta, etc. are any better and unfortunately I don't know anyone who is Egyptian so I guess I'll have to wing it and suffer through the laughter. You're right the first thing they teach you on the CD is "excuse me", afwan it sounds like. I never think that the conversations they have are the greatest as to what is really important that you might want to learn to say. Perhaps if I just get the basics down that one needs to know like yes, no, thanks and a few other important phrases I'll be ok.

We'll be staying in the Le Meridien Pyramids, not sure where that is, I had a hard time even looking it up on TripAdvisor so it's hard to pinpoint the neighborhood since I don't have an address. I will check out the website you put down.

Also, thanks to everyone else for the restaurant recommendations. I will write them down and look them up for more info. Ginny
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Apr 18th, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Another suggestion for language learning. Lonely Planet has a purple covered Egyptian Arabic phrase book. It's got the words or phrases in English, a transliteration in English letters and the phrase written in Arabic letters. If the Egyptian cannot understand my bad Arabic pronunciation, I show it to them in Arabic letters. I carry it around with me here. Helps a lot. My Egyptian students really like it, too.
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Apr 18th, 2008, 10:46 PM
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Afwan means You're Welcome. It is the response to Thank you.

Don't worry - they won;t laugh at you for trying to speak Arabic, but you might get some looks like "what the heck is she trying to say? Is she speaking English or what language is that?" I get those looks all the time.

As far as restaurants go - the only two decent ones walking distance to your hotel are Felfella - The Take Away stand is the best. The restaurant is only so-so. But the falafel sandwiches or the eggplant sandwiches or the foul sandwiches from the Take Away stand are to die for. All very good and cheap.

The other restaurant that is good is Chirstos at the end of the street. It is a fish restaurant with a view of the pyramids from their balcony. The bathrooms leave a lot to be desired, but the restaurant is good.

One warning though - as soon as you leave the hotel grounds there may be touts ready to pounce on you and take you to their brothers papyrus shop or perfume factory so you can buy over priced papyrus and perfume and give themn a HUGE commission for bringing you in. Be aware of what is going on, even if someone comes up and is friendly to you by asking "where are you from?" Believe me, he doesn't care where you are from other than to know what kind of money you have in your pocket and what tact it will take to get you to let loose of it. He will not outright steal from you, but it is his mission to separate you from your cash. Watch out!
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Jun 12th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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While not exactly closeby, you might like to to try the excellent Indian restaurant in the Mena House, overlooking the pyramids. This is one of Cairo's most venerable hotels and is only a short taxi ride away from Le Meridien - Pyramides.

If you happen to be in Zamalek, a bit further afield, one evening, try Le Pasha 1900, a restaurant on board a stationary boat which has several restaurants including a steak house, a Lebanese, an Italian and an Asian restaurant, all of which are pretty good. If you get a window table, you'll enjoy a view of the lively traffic on the Nile as you eat!
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Jun 12th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Phinn - there is supposed to be a pretty good Indian restaurant on the 1901 now too. I haven't tried it yet, but it's probably worth trying.

IMHO the Indian at the Mena House is good, but only worth going to if you are at the Mena House already or in the neighborhood - or I suppose if someone else is buying and you don't have to travel TOO far to get to it. It's expensive compared to the many choices there are in town now.

There is one in Maadi, two in Mohadiseen, one at the Grand Hyatt in Garden City, and one in the Karvin Hotel in Heliopolis. Oh and another at the Concorde Salam Hotel in Heliopolis. Indian food is getting more and more accessible. I guess the Karvin one and the one in Maadi are probably the two best values.

If anyone needs more info on where to find these, let me know... I can get you phone numbers or more info if I need to.
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Jun 12th, 2008, 03:56 PM
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My husband and I plus another couple will be going to Egypt and Jordan in November as well. We will be staying at the Four Seasons in downtown Cairo so anyone with good restaurants. We also like all types of food but figure we would like to try local dishes as we can eat italian or french at home. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 07:41 PM
  #14
 
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I too have run into this problem. with Eastern v/s Egyptian. I purchased the Pimsluer Egyptian Arabic CD's up to lesson 20. I was about to purchase the next part but now I am taking a trip to Beirut in 5 weeks and now I'm wondering if I made a mistake in choosing which one? or After reading these responses I don't mind continuing with the Egyptian dialect but I would like advice on how to go about continuing learning if Pimsleur isn't teaching things correctly because I worry about people looking at me funny... plus im taking a lot of time and energy to learn these words!

Any suggestions on #1 continue with Egyptian? or switch to Eastern? #2 Where should I find another source to learn more?? I would like to learn as much as I can before my trip!
Thanks
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