Fish Restaurant: Istanbul
Can someone help me identify this restaurant? It was in the Time Out Istanbul guide which I no longer have, but it was a fish restaurant right across the bridge from Sultanhamet. Walked across the bridge, turned left down the stairs passed some hardware stores and a few blocks later got lost a little bit but there was a wooden exterior fish restaurant on the corner. Looked kinda humble, but had the best fish I had in Istanbul. Sea bass, it was.
I think you might be thinking of Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi in Karakoy? I never actually made it there (even some locals said they had not been able to find it; kudos to you!), but your directions sound exactly like the place I read about in the New York Times in May, I think. I can't find the link, but here is an excerpt from the article that I copied and took with me to Istanbul:
"More interesting than any place in Kumkapi is Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi in Karakoy district. Near Tersane Caddesi, Kardesim sok. 30, Karakoy; (90-212) 251-1371. Lunch only; no alcohol; 23 new liras ($15 at 1.53 new liras to the dollar).
Finding the restaurant, however, just behind the fish market near the Galata Bridge, is anything but simple. Down an alley lined with hardware stalls, past 200 yards of screws, drills and hinges, all that gives it away is a wood-framed doorway and a little display window with a small sample of the day’s catch. Everything here is of the day. When they run out they close. And it’s lunch-only, consisting of two tiny upstairs rooms and an even tinier one downstairs. You can’t make a reservation, although you can reserve a particular fish if it’s in Choices go up on a blackboard."
Aha! Thanks so much! That's definitely it. Too bad you didn't make it - it was well worth it, and a lot better than the much heavier-publicized Sabahttin Belikchisi (sp?) in Sultanhamet. The steamed sea bass was ridiculous, oh man. The fish soup too. It's funny, I was there alone and in the next table was a hip young'ish Istanbul couple laughing. I kinda thought they were laughing at me, so I gave them my usual urban "f-off" look, then they stopped to explain that they've been living in Istanbul all their lives and just finally discovered that restaurant, and was surprised to see a young tourist there alone. Anyways, we chatted, had lunch together, and turned out to have a mutual friend in Berlin. Crazy. Anyways, thanks again!!
I'm back in Istanbul now with my parents and headed back to this restaurant. After a really disappointing meal at the end of the Bosphorus Cruise where we ordered Kalkan (turbot) and got over-fried pre-sliced frozen fish, I was really looking forward to it.
It's still pretty fantastic, though I was wondering if the NYTimes writeup was going to mean it would be crowded with tourists. It's a tiny place (6 tables or so?) - half the tables were well-dressed Turks and there was also a British couple.
The fish chowder was really delicious and had to sop it up with the bread w/ toasted sesame seeds. We each got the sea bass & tomato steamed in parchment paper which was moist tender juicy and flavorful. The salad was kinda a lettuce leaf that sorta tasted like parsley?
Wow, hotop1, you seem to make it to Istanbul a lot - how I envy you! I haven't been back since last May and WISH I could return again. And your report of Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi only makes me want to go even more! Check out my long report on Istanbul eats and do tell me what you think.
My wife and I visited Sultanahmet Fish House in September for dinner.
The restaurant is very pleasant with a nice atmosphere and knowledgeable staff.
Each and every dish was perfect, beautifully served and accompanied with a balanced (not too long or short) explanation. The same for the wine.
We highly recommend this restaurant for everyone.