Monday, November 27, 2006

Grocery Shopping in Cairo

Hmmmmmmm,

I've been figuring my way around shopping for groceries & thought that maybe a couple of you could benefit from my experience.

Metro Markets are dotted around the city. They are each a small supermarket. Like a Foodworld from Bangalore. They have all the baiscs that you need for daily use. Some fresh fruits & vegetables. A small selection of raw meats, marinated meats, cold meats, cheeses & pickles. They have some variety in brands but not a huge lot. They are ok when you need to pick up groceries in a jiffy. But I have found them more expensive than the other local groceries or the bigger ones. The advantage is that most items are labelled in English as are the prices. A lot of expats do their regualr shopping here because of the convenience.

You can also try the Hawary Supermarkets. Its similar to metro but with more reasonable rates. The locals shop here. A word of warning though. Most prices are written in Arabic if they are written at all. The store personnel cannot speak too much English & the stores are quite crowded. The aisles are small & have a lot of people jostling for space for themselves and their trolleys. Once you know which brands you like & can speak a few words in arabic then you can attempt to shop here.

For your major shopping, try Carrefour It’s a French Hyper Market where you can get everything you want, that’s available in Egypt in quite a few varieties. You do get good discounts & they always have some offer or the other on. Most of the service staff can speak some amount of English or can refer you to someone who does speak English, so its quite a pleasure to shop here. The aisles are wide, the air conditioning works, lots of choice, good rates. Drawback : It’s a long drive from most residential areas. There's one on the Cairo-Alex desert road at Dandy Mall & another at Maadi grand mall (which isn't within Maadi as the name may suggest but some way off) They are both located in pretty decent malls, so you can plan a day around the experience. Of the 2, the Maadi mall is a better mall & there's a new one with more shops coming up along side it.

If you are more confident of yourself & know for sure which brands you want to purchase, then Hyper1 is a better option than Carrefour because their prices are much lower & they have a huger range especially of local products. Most locals shop here for their monthly shopping. Its completely worth the drive if you have to spend about 100LE on your groceries, you will save at least 15LE. So very worth it. Nicely spaced out. Only, the identifiers are written mainly in Arabic, prices are written in English numerals but not the names.

Between Hyper1 & Carrefour, I would recommend Carrefour for cold meats (cheaper) & unpacked spices in barrels -which you decide how much you want(labelled in English) For everything else Hyper1 is a better bet.

I've heard that the CityStars Mall in Nasr City has a Grocery store too in a Khan El Khalili Section, but I haven't really checked it out. So I can't comment. The Virgin store, located here is excellent for music & books & the Food Court is humongous. But I digress. Longer post on that sometime.

The local markets are always good for fruits & vegetables. Whatever I've seen of them, they look fresher than the stuff inside the supermarkets. I'm not yet too comfortable haggling in Arabic, so I've not attempted them yet. Although I have been told by locals, that they sell at a fixed price & there's no need to bargain. But given that I have no clue what the fixed rate should be, I'm still apprehensive. Maybe in the next couple of weeks.

You can buy lovely spices at the Khan El Khalili for much lower rate than at the above mentioned locations. But be ready to bargain. Most of these guys can speak enough English to bargain with them because of the sheer number of tourists that visit the market.

Your neighbourhood grocer will have a lot of the stuff that you may suddenly run out of, but I feel that the guy next to my house is overcharging me. Its easier to walk up to Metro Markets where prices are fixed & marked. At least there I know that I'm being overcharged the same as the other customers. LOL ! Your bowab or his wife will just as easily pick up the stuff for you from the grocer for a small tip (50p to 2LE depending on how much stuff he has to carry up)

Anything else you would like to add or would like me to answer ? Just drop me a comment. I'll be posting again in detail on what things are available & not available in Cairo.

Edit Add (29 Nov 06) : Spinneys at City Stars mall is similar to Hyper1 & Carrefour but I found its meat section cleaner & the general overall ambience was much better. But I was just window shopping, so I can't really comment on the prices vis a vis the others. Whatever little I saw, they were comparable & they have a better section of clothes here.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Grand Mall is actually right in the centre of Maadi. I think that Carre Four is actually located outside of New Maadi (do they call it City Centre?)-on the road that stretches between Maadi and Nasr City, no? (Ring Road?)

Another 'western' market is Alfa Market (there's one located on the corniche outside of Maadi) and sometimes you can find treats there like Hershey's chocolate, tortilla chips, etc. There's a sporting goods store upstairs, which is nice if you're planning a camping trip. Cost? Some items are in line w/ Metro, and others a bit pricier. I think you're right about using the little shops on the street for basics like canned goods, pasta, etc. Fruit and veg always tastes nicer from the green grocer, too.

Kim said...

Guess I'm a little confused on the Carre Four location in Maadi. Will recheck that and repost here

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim, Found your web blog concerning grocery shopping in Cairo. I wanted to let you know a new option, available when expats will return from their summer break.. Vegetable and fruit boxes will be home delivered in Maadi and New Cairo (Katameya). The company is set up by Nasr, who has 15 years experience in fruit and veg in Maadi and is now starting his own business. E-mails for more info can be sent to thevegbox@hotmail.com Maybe something you can try out or mention in your webblog.. thanks
Suzanne

Kim said...

Thanks for the info Suzanne. I'm sure people reading this post can benefit from it.

Do they have a brick & mortar store ? I live in a part of town where they don't deliver.

bowiebeane said...

Hiya, I'm from the US on a business contract here. Just wantd to mention that there is a Spinneys supermarket on the first floor of City Stars Mall. Besides many western type foodstuffs, there is also an assortment of electronic products, housewares, and clothes.
Steve

Alliyah said...

Hi, I'm living in Nasr City, Cairo. Two other supermarkets that are worth a look are Ragab & Sons and Mahmal. They are both mostly used by locals but they are spread and you can find one or both of them in your local area. The prices are cheaper than Metro and Spinneys but not as much of a selection in American products.

Hope that helps.

khuu dong tuong said...

hi Kim,
I'm vietnamese, i'm on business in Cairo now, could you let me know is there any Asian supermarket in Cairo? i want to cook some asian food for my self.
Thanks
Dong Tuong Khuu

Kim said...

Hi Dong,

What ingredients are you looking for and which part of town are you in?

Things like Soya sauce, fish sauce are available at MEtro Markets. Slightly more specialised ingredients like Tofu etc, can be found at Kimo's or Miriam Supermarket in Maadi.

Asian Restaurants like Gaya in Maadi sometimes sell things like tofu.

Maadi is again the best place to get a few more south asian vegetables like snow peas and baby corn.

Anonymous said...

i would like to know where there is a tailor in maadi.. someone to hem and sewing repairs? thanks layla

yabu said...

Hi Kim,

First of all thanks for this nice informative Blog. I am from India and currently working on a Research Study on Hair Oil market in Egypt. As I saw you have a very good knowledge in Retail shopping in Egypt, I would appreciate if you could provide me your inputs on the below mentioned queries:
1. What are key Hair Oil brands you can see in the retail shop/market?
2. Which are the key Retailer/Supermarkets/Others who store Hair Oil products?
3. If you are a User of hair oil, could you please tel me the SKUs you have observed for the key brands and also the SKUS?

Thanks in Advance.

yousuf

Ahmed said...

Hi everyone,

I also heard there is a new fresh fruits & vegetables supplier with all the customization you need i.e. no fixed order.
They have a call center which you can call on all days of the week, yet they deliver six days a week only. You can check out thier website themar-egypt.com for more details.

bleach16 said...

which store can i find cheese at? like sharp cheddar...or monterey jack? also, if you can please name other cheeses sold in egypt...thanks!

Kim said...

All the stores mentioned above have a cheese counter. I've found the quality at Carrefour and Spinneys to be quite good.

What cheese they have is completely dependent on your luck. Its best to go there and check it out. But I have seen Monterrey jack etc. The imported cheese are more expensive than the baladi cheese, but they are available.

Anonymous said...

For local markets try the seoudi market in Digla and one of the branches is close to the rugby club 10 Road 214 Near Victory College.
Good Luck Cairo is a great place to live.

Anonymous said...

hello every one i just want to ask where i can find a Korean super market because i want to make Korean food and i can't find the ingredients even in the big super markets

DI said...

hey :)
i want to try the Indian food so what do you recommend and where i can find places to buy Indian stuff ??? and also i want to ask about Korean grocery markets where can i find such a place ??
thanks :)

jemiljan said...

DI, I found a different blog with info on an Indian grocer in Maadi. His name is Hassan and his address is

3rd floor
building 106, Road 9
Maadi, Cairo

0111883800.

I haven't been there myself (am moving to Cairo in February), but wonder if this place still exists.

I am also looking for Thai ingredients: not only curry pastes, fresh Thai basil, galangal, lemongrass, etc.

Jake

Anonymous said...

I brought a Johnson's moisturising cream (small blue tub) and I love it!! but I can not find the same in UK as it is an Egypt Brand. Is there somewhere I can buy it online?

Anonymous said...

hello! do you know where i can find japanese ingredients here in cairo?

Anonymous said...

There's also a new online grocery store called Beqala.com. Its still in its Beta phase but I've tried the service myself and its revolutionary in Egypt. No more waiting in endless queues for me!!!

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