Burger joints and cupcake cafes have dominated the food scene in Cairo over the the last year. There hasn’t been much by the way of new restaurants, much less juice bars: places that sell only freshly pressed/squeezed/blended drinks. I mean aside from the locally-owned Juice Guy on the 26th of July corridor (and others like him around the city), there aren’t many places for thirsty Cairenes to get a healthfully blended and/or juiced drink.
Until now that is.
Wandering down Brazil St. (Zamalek) on a rather balmy Saturday, I wandered right past Lychee before doing a double take, retracing my steps, gazing through the window for a good 30 seconds and walking in. I was met with colourful, paint-splattered furniture, wooden panelling and shelves of fresh fruit lining the walls. Bananas there. Pomegranates (fruit of the GODS…yum!) here. Apples in that corner and oranges in this one. Large black chalkboards on the North wall listed the fresh juices, smoothies, and cold and hot drinks on offer, while two iPads – encased in wood frames – were fixed to the wall ready to take orders from eager customers.
Because I’m a sucker for juice. I totally got in line.
Instead of using the handy iPads to place my order (such an ingenious idea) I instead consulted with Lychee staff for a recommendation. I mean, there’s so many juices to choose from, each one as tempting as the next. Do I go for the Guava Lava (guava + mint) or the Real Passion (passion fruit + mango)? Do I try the Cinna Boulevard (cinnamon, apple + banana) or branch out and take the Carrot Tree (orange + carrot)? The menu in itself was deliciously overwhelming with juice after juice and smoothie after smoothie etched onto the towering blackboards.
Yes, I needed help to select a Berry Land concoction (raspberry, cranberry, blueberry, strawberry and banana) in the end. I was really itching for something with pomegranate in it, but decided it to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. My walking buddy – on the other hand – went straight for the Peapple Mountain (pineapple, apple, lemon).
I totally dig a guy who knows what he wants.
Normally the Berry Land smoothie is made with yogurt, but the great thing about Lychee – regardless of whether you use the order-taking iPad or not – is that you can make your own drink, mixing and matching fruits and vegetables to create something that perfectly suits your palate. This meant I could drop the yogurt from my drink so it contained fruit and ice only, thereby rendering it 100% Intolerant-friendly.
We waited a short five minutes for our number to be called. I moseyed up to the counter, collected our order and dove right in. Slurping away, a medley of berries hit my tongue in one go. Delicious! I’m not a big banana fan, but I quite enjoyed it in this drink and I could taste the zing of blueberries and cranberries fighting to take top billing against the banana and strawberry. The cost for a drink at Lychee is almost 200% more than at Juice Guy (6LE for a glass of guava juice vs. 16LE for Lychee’s Guava Lava), but it’s not surprising given the variety on offer and the location of Cairo’s newest juice bar. The only critique I have of Lychee is that my drink was slightly too sweet making me think there was extra sugar added. Not a big deal by a long stretch, but given the sugar content of most fruit to begin with next time I’ll ask for my drink without any additional sweetener. I think I’ll also go for a mix of fruit and veg to boot, the Carrot Tree already on my mind.
Now if only Lychee could get their hands on some kale.
While our drinks were bone-shakingly cold for the temperate January weather (brain freeze anyone?), I can imagine the perfection of tipping back a Natural Mojito (apple, pineapple, lemon, mint + melon) on a sweltering (think +40°C) July day. *sigh* My imagination is already running away with me, I mean, instead of walking a kilometer home in a sweaty, molten mess – Wicked Witch of the West style – I could stay as cool as ice with a freshly blended drink in hand. One that’s fresh and made to order no less.
My, my, I have a feeling Lychee is going to be heaving with customers soon enough.
Better get in line and take a number.
5 Brazil St.
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt
Open from 8:00 to 00:00.