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Mar 4, 2009 01:39 PM

Kantin in Istanbul

I am staying in Istanbul for the month of March and delving deep into the city's food culture is my main objective. I am finding it very difficult to venture beyond the confines of the Nişantaşi neighborhood, however, because it is home to an absolutely amazing restaurant called Kantin. Its open from lunchtime til 7pm (their take away place downstairs from the main restaurant remains open til 830pm) and has constantly changing daily specials drawing from the best local and seasonal ingredients, çitirlar (crispy flat breads cooked in a wood burning oven and garnished with toppings), lost of salads, and more. Ive blogged a bit about what ive eaten there ( and will continue to do so throughout the month. afiyet olsun!

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  1. Köfte Ekmek, I think I would want that. I am going to be there soon, I found it on google, can you give some directions if it is tricky to find. Or is it just that you didn't took a map? I will be having a map as I have just few days there and I am sure I get lost anyhow.


    1. Thanks for the great post on Kantin. Could you please tell me the general prices? I'd like to visit in a couple of days, but I'm watching my budget.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

        Koefte Ekmek is around 10$. I can swing that ........ Menu is below .....

      2. While I can't comment on the quality of the food as I've never been here, you're getting ripped off hardcore.

        As someone who knows Istanbul inside and out I'd never EVER in my life pay 18.50 TRY for a kofte ekmek. That's just absurdly expensive.

        Stray out of Nisantasi and you'll find it for a fraction of the price.

        5 Replies
        1. re: radiopolitic

          Radiopolitic I completely disagree. In the restaurant business prices are based on the cost and quality of ingredients and at Kantin, ingredients are meticulously sourced. There is also rent to think of. I think Kantin is moderately priced for its surroundings and absolutely worth a trip for someone looking for a more self-reflexive approach to turkish cuisine. Of course, you can go to Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi and pay 10 YTL for kofte but it is a different type of experience. My advice (as someone else who knows Istanbul and food) is to try both venues. One of the many incredible things about Istanbul is the diversity of places to eat.

          1. re: katieparla

            No need for a lecture on restaurant economics and while Kantin might go the extra yard on ingredients - there's nothing complex or difficult to find for a kofte ekmek. Rent? Just because a restaurant has decided to locate itself in an expensive neighbourhood does not suddenly make a prohibitively priced dish acceptable. That was the proprietors choice.

            Reflexive approach to Turkish cuisine? I'd like to hear an explanation on that, how exactly is Kantin creating food - which all looks to be pretty standard from their website - that is looking back upon itself?

            I don't think I'd even pay 10 TRY for a kofte ekmek. In fact, I doubt I'd pay for kofte ekmek period.

            While I wholeheartedly agree that there is a wonderful abundance of choices that doesn't mean I'm going to spend money on something that pricey just to see what its like. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure its excellent but I would never cough up that much money for that.

            I'll spend good money on food when it is deserved but 18.50 TRY for kofte ekmek is out of the question.

            My recommendation to you is to go to the Asian side of Istanbul stay out of places like Uskudar, Kadikoy, Moda, Bagdat Caddesi and the Bosphorus and go see the real Istanbul, away from tourist districts and away from the glamour.

            1. re: radiopolitic

              @radiopolitic Hate to be combative here but you absolutely need to be schooled on restaurant econ. Since you have never been to Kantin there is no way for you to know this, but the overhead is pretty high. I was actually in there today interviewing the chef/owner for a piece I am writing for National Geographic's forthcoming guide book "Food Journeys of a Lifetime" (look for it in bookstores in Fall 2009). I had the chance to check out the kitchen (it is state of the art), meet her staff (she employs 25 people for a 50 seat restaurant), and eat her food (made with the best seasonal ingredients). I think for a full understanding of cuisine in Istanbul, one must eat, as you say, in many different places. And, yes, you can pay less. But it would be ridiculous to count Kantin out just because it is in a posh neighborhood. It is not expensive ($10 for 5 lamb kofte with bread and salad) and, as a food lover, I am happy to pay a little more for premium meat. One of the great things about Kantin is that, although it is in the most expensive neighborhood in the city, it doesnt put on airs, it isnt pretentious, and the food is simple. I hope that on your next trip to Istanbul you swing by (it makes a nice pit stop after the Saturday organic market in Belmonte), if not to eat at the restaurant, then at least to browse the take away items which are tantalizing and, without spending a dime, will show you the chef's philosophy of creating simple, organic, seasonal fare in a city where that is rare (case in point: eggplants and tomatoes are served everywhere in Istanbul in the winter when they are way out of season. Not exactly authentic).

              Do you think you can post on some of your favorite places on the Asian side. I am addicted to Ciya in Kadikoy but am always interested to hear about other foodie favorites. Any kokorec joints in particular would be great.

              1. re: katieparla

                From Wikipedia, for Kokorec:
                >>Şampiyon is a famous kokoreç restaurant in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district. Mercan is another well known place with its kokoreç. These two have locations both in Beyoğlu and Kadıköy districts.<<

                I haven't tried it yet ... and may never do, still debating.

                1. re: jk1002

                  Thanks so much. I'll check these places out. Headed back to Kadikoy Thursday and am in Beyoglu every day. Ciao!

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