The air vibrates with the pulse of the Egyptian music and all eyes turn towards the lady in white who is holding a sword above her head.
Steaming cups of fragrant mint tea and plates of shawarma are forgotten as, slowly, she brings it down and balances it delicately on her chin, while her hips start to swing and shake, her exquisite outfit tinkling as her skirts swirl about her.
She is a vision among ornate artefacts and exotic décor and she holds her audience enthralled, while in the background a boat glides gently by.
Smells, sounds and looks a lot like Egypt but actually it’s much closer to home, at The Nile On Broadwater, a new restaurant at the Aqua building, Labrador.
Owners Ihab and Aisha Heriz have sought to re-create an authentic Egyptian experience, of which the belly dancer, who is there every Friday and Saturday night, is just one part.
Colourful pieces, tapestries and more from Egypt have been imported to deck out the restaurant, which features sandstone facades, sarcophagi standing guard and subtle lighting for a moody, den-like appearance for those who choose to dine inside, rather than alfresco where Broadwater views can be enjoyed.
The smallest details are covered, from the sphinx wine holders to the golden decorated, ornate wine glasses and tiny pyramid chocolates that come with dessert.
Some of the furniture has been handmade by Ihab, including tables and the long bench-like seats and armrests carved with intricate detail.
These bench seats are covered in cushions made from luxurious fabrics, which make it easy to sit back and settle in for a comfortable evening of Egyptian delights.
The Nile On Broadwater has been open for only a short time but is already attracting lots of discerning diners.
Ihab says it is enjoying strong bookings on weekends for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For those who have not eaten Egyptian food before, be prepared for an entrée of falafel, labne and baba ghanouj served with Egyptian bread and the sambsac and fatayer, comprising pastries filled with spinach, ricotta, feta, onion, mint leaves and haloumi cheese, served with a tahini sauce.
The falafels are golden and crunchy and when eaten with the tangy labne (a yoghurt-derived accompaniment) and smoky baba ghanouj are a tasty start to a meal.
The shawarma is a main dish of strips of marinated lamb full of flavour from various herbs and spices and served on rice with salad, tahini and Egyptian bread.
The mixed grill is made up of skewers of shish kebab (barbecued cubes of tender lamb with onion and capsicum) and shish tawook (char-grilled chicken fillets marinated in lemon, garlic and coriander).
The coshare is an unusual combination of rice, pasta, lentils and chickpeas in a spicy sauce.
The meal is typically Egyptian and if ever on a walk through Cairo expect to find several stalls serving this wholesome, tasty dish.
For dessert sample delicate, rose-flavoured Egyptian ice cream topped off with a sprinkling of pistachios and cream and crispy baklava served with vanilla ice cream.
The food is different and delicious, with efficient service and a smile and the atmosphere makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
This BYO restaurant is open daily from 8am until late.
There is a children’s menu.