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Turkish Kitchen, Berkeley

Turkish Kitchen is a potentially interesting Mom & Pop (or Anne & Baba) operation which last month replaced the Medterranean on Shattuck. The menu goes well beyond the usual hummus and kebabs. I was intrigued by the tripe soup - a $6 special, "iskembe corbasi" I think - which turned out to be a simple cloudy broth served with a lemon-egg sauce on the side. I wasn't entirely sure how to consume the sauce but I presumed you were just meant to mix it in to taste. The soup was OK, though there wasn't much tripe taste. For dessert I had kazandibi ("bottom of the pot", $4.50), a pleasantly sweet, starchy pudding caramelised on one side. The crust was firm, but not creme brulee-hard, with a slightly wrinkly surface. Would have it again.

The food was all very homestyle: there are no flourishes in presentation, at least not at this early stage, and I think I could accurately replicate the dishes if I had a Turkish cookbook, a couple of practice runs, and a few hours to cook. But I haven't, so I'll come back.

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  1. Can't get the Places link to work, so:

    Turkish Kitchen
    1986 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley

    1. Thanks! Something new in Berkeley that we will have to check out! S

      1. I was wondering if that place had been bought by Turks! Smart move to change the name to reflect the new menu.

        1. Hopefully there will be more info in the future, but here's the website

          1. That soup sounds interesting - is it like a do-it-yourself avgolemono, but with tripe? Did the soup come out hot enough to cook raw egg?

            Did you see any pide on the menu? If have pide, I'm there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: daveena

              Avgolemono would be "Terbiyeli Shehriye Chorbasi".

              If my memory serves me right the tripe soup has a similar look and taste, but may not have the same ingredients.

              Ahmet Toprak
              Director, San Francisco Turkish Radio

            2. While we're asking about the menu, do they have Iskendar Kebap? After a very disappointing and overpriced one last week at Ephesus in WC, made with kofte instead of doner, I'd love to have the real thing!

              9 Replies
              1. re: jmarek

                I scribbled names of a few dishes I'd never had before on the back of my receipt (which also tells me the kazandibi was only $3.50):

                Shepherd's salad
                Stuffed grape leaves
                Kiymali Borek
                Baked pies
                Grilled kofte

                I'm not even close to sure, but they might've had iskendar and might not have had pide.

                1. re: bradluen

                  Aaaah! They have lahmacun! (I use the terms lahmacun and pide interchangeably, don't know if there's a subtle difference between the two). They're flatbreads with a thin layer of finely minced, seasoned lamb and beef. And manti are the other thing I've been craving lately (little lamb dumplings with a yogurt and chili sauce).

                  Thanks so much for the report. I'll have to get there soon.

                  1. re: daveena

                    Lahmacun at A La Turca in SF is the thin flatbread with minced lamb. At the same restaurant, pides are a chewier, fluffier dough formed similarly to a stromboli, with cheese and other fillings (e.g. sujuk, mushrooms, chicken). In my experience (not vast) of other Turkish restaurants, lahmacun always conforms to the former description.

                    1. re: daveena

                      Pide may be a more generic term than that. Here's an old post about pide (though the restaurant in question is long gone),

                      Looking forward to trying this place, thanks for the report, brad.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Thanks for the link.

                        At leisure for my evening meal tonight, I conquered my Berkeleyphobia for long enough to have dinner there. I never went to the Mediterranean, but I am guessing that the brightly colored space with painted murals on the walls and ceiling is left over from that restaurant. Apart from normal menus, the menu is printed, along with photographs of the food, high on a wall above the kitchen area.

                        The menu is very similar to the local reference, A La Turca, and indeed, if I am not mistaken, one of the gentleman puttering about in the kitchen area has worked at A La Turca in the past (I am not 100% certain).

                        Based on the photographs, I agree with ace below that they do have pide similar to A La Turca, and they are called baked pies. In answer to jmarek, they do indeed have Alexander Iskendar Kebap as one of their entrees.

                        I had lahmacun and an Adana Kebap sandwich. Sandwich came first- I did not specify and was not asked, but you have the option of lavash or pita, so mine came in a lavash, wrapped up like a long burrito with one end open. Adana Kebap is a spiced minced/ground lamb kebab, and the seasonings on this one were bright and strong, and it tasted wonderfully of being grilled over an open flame. Wrapped up inside along with the meat were some lettuce and tomato, tahini and some hot sauce. It was delicious. Normally if given the option I get the pita, but the lavash here was very tasty, about as crispy as it gets whilst still being rollable.

                        The lahmacun was on a crispier lavash like crust, spread with a paste of lamb and tomato, and served with lemon and a mini salad of lettuce and red onion sprinkled with something like zatar. This was also very tasty, but differed from the A La Turca version in the consistency of the lamb-tomato topping. At ALT, it is more like seasoned ground lamb atop a tomato paste, while here the paste was more of a combination.

                        I saw a basket of sliced pita bread go by, and it looked promising. For those unfamiliar with Turkish pita, it is a round thick, chewy bread unlike the Middle Eastern pita or pocket bread. To my taste it is infinitely superior.

                        I will be returning soon. Let's hope it holds up and does well.

                        1. re: twocents

                          Thanks for the report. What is the difference between Adana & Iskendar Kebap? And where does Doner Kebap fall in the picture? I take it there is no rotating spit out in the open?

                          1. re: DezzerSF

                            Adana is ground meat formed on an individual skewer then grilled to order or sometimes they're made like flattish hamburger patties. When I've had Iskender (aka Alexander) kebap around here, it's slices of meat cut off the doner spit sauteed with bread cubes and lots of melted butter, tossed with tomato sauce and topped with yogurt. But I've read references to Iskender as slices from ground meat cooked on a spit. Doner kebap is stacks of sliced meat (lamb, beef, veal, chicken, or a combination) cooked on a rotating spit, then shaved off to serve.

                            I'm excited to have another place to try Beyti kebap.

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          Mmm, makes sense. I guess pide is a generic term for flatbread, and lahumacun is a subset. Most of the places I've been to call the flatbread topped with minced lamb lahmacun, but one place I used to go to a lot in NYC called it pide. Anyway, twocents description sounds like the kind I've been looking for... can't wait to try it!

                        3. re: daveena

                          Yes, there is a difference between pide and lahmacun.

                          Lahmacun has a very thin dough underneath, and has only one type of topping.

                          However, pides have a much thicker dough underneath and all sorts of different toppings. Also pides are usually made into boat shape.

                          Ahmet Toprak
                          Director, San Francisco Turkish Radio

                    2. I checked this place out tonight and my friend and I had a delicious dinner. We shared two appetizers, the shepherd's salad and borek (deep fried rolled pastry stuffed with parsley and feta). For entrees, my friend had a pide with spicy meat (their pides are listed on the menu as "baked pies"- they have both lahmacun and pide on the menu), and I unfortunately can't remember the name of what I had, but it was described as ground chicken rolled in lavash with a tomato and yogurt sauce. It was served hot and the rolled lavash was sliced...very good. The meal, including a soda and a beer, cost $33. I'd describe the service as eager to please. Our food came very quickly, but then the place filled up and I had to go ask for the check. But they were sweet. My friend and I both give it a definite thumbs up.

                      1. I tried this place earlier tonight, and I like it already. First off, I was glad to see the food really is Turkish...I had my suspicions that it would be just be sort of vaguely Mediterranean.

                        I had the doner & cheese pide, which I liked quite a bit. Their lamb/beef doner is flavorful and makes a good filling for a pide. I remember really liking the desserts in Istanbul, so I think it's great this place has a dessert menu (which I'll probably work my way through soon enough...)

                        Has anyone tried Bosphorus (now closed) on University? Curious how this place stacks up against that one.

                        1. Had dinner here tonight - really liked the manti and the kazandibi. The manti are more pasta than filling - thick, handmade pasta, satisfyingly chewy, with a bit of seasoned lamb inside. They're small dumplings, roughly the size of a thumbnail - the smallest ones seemed to be all dough. Yogurt and chili sauce could have used a touch more heat. I loved the texture of the dumplings and will be back for this dish alone.

                          The kazandibi ("bottom of the pot") is a rice flour and milk pudding with a creme caramel-like top. This had an appealing texture and a straightforward, caramel and dairy sweetness.

                          The lahmacun are good, but I like more seasoning and less tomato in the lamb topping... also, I actually like a little topping, as the flatbread got soggy quickly (also, if you order more than one order of lahmacun, they stack them all up, so they're pretty much guaranteed to get soggy.)

                          The beef pide and kofte kebab were fine but not remarkable.

                          Overall, satisfying meal - I'm not really into kebabs, so it's exciting for me to have a Turkish place nearby with good non-kebab items - thanks for the heads up, Brad!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: daveena

                            I know what you mean about the lahmacun, but I still liked it quite a lot. Went again during normal dinner hours- about 7:30; they were almost full. Had the lahmacun again, and confirmed my liking. I agree about the manti- my first time with the dish, and the chewy, fingertip-sized dumplings with yogurt sauce are very appealing. I might have liked the lamb to be seasoned just a bit more, given the tiny size, but very appealing nevertheless. Finally, had eggplant salad, excellent roast or broiled (I think) eggplant marinated in olive oil and seasonings. Pita was served as well, and was great, not the best I've had but still very delicious, a very appealing combination of tenderness (inside) with a chewy, salty and savory exterior. Almost as good as A La Turca, though the best I've ever had was a place in Sunnyside, Queens whose name escapes me.

                            Can't wait to return.

                          2. Had a good lunch today.

                            Appetizer plate: babaganoush was excellent, dolmas, kisir, and esme very good (though we should have asked for lettuce for the kisir), hummus not great.

                            Haydari (strained yogurt with dill and carrot), excellent.

                            Pide with sucuk and cheese, excellent. The sucuk was really gamy and sour.

                            Beyti (lamb kebab wrapped in lavash and sauced with yogurt, butter, and tomato sauce): kebab and sauce were delicous but I wasn't big on the texture of the damp bread.

                            Baklava: good.

                            Definitely going back. Check out the specials board before ordering.

                            The server said all the staff came from A La Turka. I think the food's better at Turkish Kitchen. Best Turkish food I've had around here with the possible exception of the pricey Ephesus in Walnut Creek.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Dinner last night. Place was close to full at around 7:30.

                              Appetizer platter, again good. Hummus maybe improved somewhat. Baba ganoush was fabulous, nice and smoky. Esme was nice and spicy. Again forgot to ask for lettuce for the kisir.

                              I tried the tripe soup special ($6.50). Clear but rich-tasting broth with small chunks of tripe and nothing else except maybe a little onion, LOTS of tripe flavor and aroma. For tripe lovers only, not something to order if you're sitting next to an offal-hater.

                              Since that was lighter than I expected I tried the chicken doner because the photo looked like it came with a cup of garlic sauce like Truly Mediterranean used to make. Nope, just haydari. Tasty but I wouldn't order again given the other choices.

                              One of these days I'll have to try their kunefe.

                            2. I have nothing to really add except a thank you to all who reported. A freind and I ate wonderfully following your recs.

                              Thanks to Robert we tried the haydari - think of all those lovely spreads that Aziza serves... this is like that ... heavenly served on the soft pillowy bread which I hesitate to call pita since it is so different.

                              The only other Turkish food I had before was sigara boregi which I fell in love with the first time at Hayes and Kabob in SF.

                              Can't call a winner. Both versions are delicious. At Turkish Kitchen they are smaller and the cheese tangier. Five to a plate.

                              The manti are lovely tiny dumpling with bits of mint and lamb. I wouldn't order this for a single person though. I think it is a dish best shared by two or even three.

                              We went with the doner and cheese baked pie (pide). Never having had this before the best way I can describe it is almost like a long calzone with the lightest, most delicate crust oozing cheese and also filled with chopped lamb and beef doner.

                              The doner meats were cut off two vertical spits.

                              Either the dumplings or pide came with a chiffonade of lettuce that was nicely dressed with a tasty vinagrette.

                              This is a very pleasant colorful restaurant. The front deli case had some delicious food. There is tables service and the people are very nice.

                              The only thing I can add was the Turkish tea was very good, served in a little glass with two brown sugar cubes. It was not bitter as many Turkish tea I've tried.

                              The only special left tonight was a roast chicken dish.

                              I'll definately be back. Nice to know that it is open until 11 pm on Friday & Saturday.

                              Thanks again all.

                              Turkish Kitchen
                              1984 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              1. Here’s the menu. If someone reported on it as of this post, I’ll only add the price, However, if there was only a one word mention and it is not a commonly known (at least to me) dish, I’ll add the description.

                                BTW, here’s the Alaturka and Ephesus (pdf) menus for comparison


                                Written on whiteboard on top of deli counter

                                SOUPS AND SALADS

                                Lentil soup $3.75
                                Red lentils with rice, onions, carrots, onions, potatoes and spices

                                Green salad $4.95
                                Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, green pepper

                                Chicken salad $6.25
                                Grilled chicken breast served with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red cabbage, onions and house dressing

                                Shepherd's salad $6.25
                                Chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil

                                Caesar’s salad $4.95
                                Romaine lettuce with shaved parmesan cheese

                                COLD APPETIZERS
                                (All cold appetizers are vegetarian)

                                Stuffed grape leaves $3.95

                                Eggplant salad $3.95
                                Baked eggplant, red and green bell pepper, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil

                                Babaganoush $3.95

                                Hummus $3.95

                                Kisir $3.50
                                Bulgur mixed with lettuce, green onion, cucumber, parsley, spices, lemon juice and olive oil

                                Esme $3.95
                                Crushed and roasted red bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, parsley, spices, lemon juice and olive oil

                                Cacik $3.50
                                Homemade yogurt with diced cucumber, mint, dill and garlic

                                Haydari $3.50
                                Drained yogurt with carrot and dill

                                Combo appetizers for two $10.95

                                HOT APPETIZERS

                                Lahmacun $3.50

                                Kiymali Borek $3.95
                                Phylo dough baked with ground beef, green bell pepper, onion and spices

                                Ispanakli Borek $3.95
                                Phylo dough baked with feta cheese and onion

                                Sigara Boregi $4.50

                                BAKED PIES (PIDE)

                                Kavermali $7.95
                                Chunks of lamb mixed with veggies and spices

                                Chicken $6.50
                                Chicken breasts mixed with veggies and spices

                                Sucuk and cheese $7.95
                                Spiced beef sausage with cheese

                                Cheese $5.75

                                Spinach and cheese $5.95

                                Ground beef and egg $5.95

                                Potatoes and cheese $5.95

                                Donner and cheese $6.95

                                All sandwiches served with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, red cabbage and tahini sauce on homemade pita bread or lavash

                                Chicken doner sandwich $6.25
                                Beef and lamb doner sandwich $6.75
                                Lamb shish sandwich $7.75
                                Adana Kebap sandwich $7.75
                                Grilled Kofte sandwich $7.25
                                Chicken shish sandwich $6.75
                                Falafel sandwich $6.25
                                Combo doner sandwich $7


                                Lamb and beef doner $8.75
                                Combination of beef sirloin and lamb spiced and roasted on a vertical spitfire and thinly sliced

                                Chicken doner $7.75
                                Marinated chicken roasted on a vertical spitfire and thinly sliced

                                Lamb shish kebap $9.75
                                Cubes of tender leg of lamb marinated in special spices

                                Grilled kofte $8.75
                                Ground beef patties with spices

                                Chicken shish kebap $8.75
                                Cubes of chicken breast marinated and grilled

                                Alexander (Iskendar) Kebap $9.75
                                Small cubes of bread, fresh tomato sauce, doner strips topped with a touch of butter and yogurt

                                Beyti $9.75

                                Chicken Beyti $8.75
                                Ground chicken wrapped in lavash, served with special sauce, yogurt and butter

                                Falafel $8.25

                                Manti $9.75

                                Mousakka $8.75

                                Stuffed eggplant (meat and veggies) $8.75

                                Stuffed eggplant (vegetarian) $7.25


                                Baklava (pistachio or walnut) $3.75

                                Kadayif $3.50
                                Shredded phylo dough with walnuts and syrup

                                Kunefe $4.75
                                Baked kadayif with sweet cheese served with syrup, topped with pistachios

                                Sutlac (rice pudding) $4.50
                                Rice, sugar, milk, cooked and baked in an oven

                                Kazandibi $3.50

                                Wines, beer, soft drinks juices, water, coffee, tea. Some Turkish

                                Ayran $1.75
                                Turkish soda $1.75
                                Turkish coffee $2.25
                                Turkish tea $1.00
                                Turkish beer but they don’t have it on the take-out menu

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rworange

                                  Thanks for posting the menu. I didn't know whether they had a vertical spit or not until you mentioned it. My first taste of a doner sandwich was in Paris a few months ago, and I haven't had anything close since. I'll give them a shot.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    thanks for the menu--has anyone been there on Sunday? they supposedly open at 11am and I'm thinking they might be a fun pre-matinee choice before Arabian Nights at the Berkeley Rep.

                                  2. We stopped on for coffee and the owner(?)/cook treated us to some sweet bread. Friendly, cheerful no-frills atmosphere with GOOD coffee. Now if we knew how to read our fortunes in the grounds.... I'll have to return to try the food.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: oaklanddat

                                      Just came back from here and had the Lamb Shish Kebab sandwich and it was delicious. The meat was flavorful, juicy and the lavash was soft and warm, there was also a slight spicy kick to the sandwich which completed the deal for me. I has been to the Mediterranean restaurant that was at the same location before and I was not a fan. I spoke with the server and indeed the chef from A La Turca is working there now which confirmed the superiority in food. Downtown Berkeley needed another place like this and I'm glad we got it.