Somewhere between Al Reda Exchange and Diwan bookstore on the 26th of July corridor in Zamalek is a small, locally owned juice bar. The place is quite nondescript. Nets filled with oranges hang out front and plates of colourful seasonal fruit – pomegranate, bananas, guava – sit on the long marble counter. Regardless of the time of day, clientele are always finding their way there to get their fix. Businessmen, housewives, school kids, baoabs and/or labourers slip quickly and quietly in, place their order, chug their juice and are gone.
The name of the place is Ganet Fawakeh though a lot of Egyptians and expats I know simply refer to the place and the man behind the counter as the “Juice Guy.” A community proclaimed king of juice in a way, and rightfully so. The narrow “bar” is always tidy with a small freezer at the back that keeps freshly prepared mixes frozen until they can be snapped up. The water filter hooked up to the sink is regularly cleaned and maintained and the storage area in the back is host to countless crates of fruit and tall stalks of sugar cane that lean casually against the wall.
A kindly older gentleman is usually seated at the small wooden desk to your right upon entering (the “cash register” if you will) and he’s apt to making recommendations, pointing at newly made concoctions with his gnarled cane and insisting that you “must take the [insert type of fruit here] today because it’s fresh and very, very good!”
From lemon to guava, orange to grapefruit, watermelon to banana or a mix of two or three, this place is serious about juice and the owners take pride in the quality and freshness of what they serve. While a few of their juices are made from fruit that’s not in season (read: imported), most of what they press depends on what they can get their hands on. Case in point: I’m a huge fan of the grapefruit juice and every time I’ve gone in since August I’ve asked if they have some only to be rebuffed with a small chuckle: “Madam…there is no grape. Grapefruit not in season.”
Alas, you win some and you lose some.
Large bottles run between 21 – 26LE, smaller ones between 9-12LE and glasses are around 4LE. Of all the juices worth going crazy for at the moment, both peach and mango have to be it. The sugar cane is equally fantastic, though be wary of the fact that additional sugar is added to a lot of juices, courtesy the average Egyptian’s sweet tooth, but they gladly comply to create something sugar-free if you make the request. One other thing worth noting that I haven’t experienced at this place, but it does occur is that sometimes certain juices (guava and date for example) are mixed with milk to enhance the taste and consistency. It’s wise for lactose Intolerants to ask to be on the safe side, but aside from that anything, and everything, is fare game.
Order up. Drink up. Enjoy.