Alhalaka Fish, Hurghada 06-2021

I thought being located on the Red Sea would mean it would be easy to find a recommended seafood restaurant that served locally caught items. It turned out to be surprisingly difficult, maybe because there aren't many (any) decent review sites and so it was really going off Google reviews, most of which aren't the most helpful. Certainly finding out menus and prices was near impossible. In the end the choices near the marina were Alhalaka (4000+ reviews), Shellfish restaurant (5* on Google but only 7 reviews), or Starfish (6000+ reviews). I chose Alhalaka in the end only really because we hadn't walked up north of the marina and there was a fish market nearby that I wanted to see (which was unfortunately closed at that time).

Upon walking in we were directed upstairs. We were ignored up there for a good long period and staff hustled around quickly trying to get things done. Eventually we had a table and started the next wait for menus and service. I asked about fresh seafood and was told about the counter downstairs, right next to the entrance and somehow I'd missed it. It had both Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea options and get charged by weight. There's also some tanks, in which the largest bugs I've ever seen were clambouring. Medium Red Sea shrimp (320g for 6) was EGP450/kg and I also chose a Red Sea grouper (EGP195/kg, whole, uncleaned 500g) for it's beautiful red colour with blue-black spots that at least kept some of the beauty after cooking. They had bigger shrimp and other things from the Mediterranean but I wanted to stay as local as possible.

After choosing from the counter downstairs, they weighed and put them into a metal bowl before it was off to the kitchen. I was sent back upstairs to give a ticket to the waiter and I added some seafood soup and dip.

The food is very good and cooked very well. Bread was fresh, puffy and nice, and aubergine dip was good and really cheap. Soup was delicious with a lovely colour and containining prawns, clams and fish. Prawns had been grilled as had the grouper been butterflied and served sengari style. They tasted good and particularly the fish showed that the seafood lived up to their standing as a specialist restaurant..

However the service is chaos and it takes effort to get attention. Busboys in red shirts worked really hard and deserved tips. When I gave one specifically to one busboy he seemed shocked but thankful. Management staff who deal with orders and payments tried to make me pay for water we didn't have. When I informed him, his reply was it's only a little bit of money and I should pay it anyway, then wanted to deduct less than the actual amount charged for the water.

The bill was printed but the total was hand written so I had to ensure the counting was correct. They need to learn some honesty at the management level.