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Jun 14, 2010 10:55 AM

Istanbul - what am I missing?

I have three weeks more in Istanbul and I want to keep sampling this amazing food! I've eaten many (most?) of the staples: Adana kepab at Durumzade, islak hamburger at Kizilkayalar and Bambi in Taksim (thanks Bourdain), cigerci sandwich from some hole in the wall in Sultanahmet, kokorec at Sampiyon, lahmacun at Hacioglu, gozleme, kumpi in Ortakoy, manti at Sinop Manti, varities of borek and dolma from my girlfriend's mother, "Bebek" style kofte pide at the Bebek festival last weekend (not sure what Bebek-style refers to, but it was good), kaymak from the Bulgarian in Besiktas, Mado ice cream, profiterol from Inci, ekmek tatliler, simit, baklava.

I recognize that I haven't eaten at any fine restaurants - which I am OK with, as long as the delicious food continues! Any thoughts on what I should eat next, or whether I could get a better version of something I've eaten in the list above? I'm in Macka, but willing to venture out if the food demands it.

Currently, I am thinking of Hacibey and Kantin in Nisantasi (the former I hear makes a great iskender, that right? Or should I go elsewhere...), as well as a breakfast at Lokma or Kale before visiting Bogazici, some fish in Arnavutkoy, buryan kebap...

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  1. seems you are doing quite well so far.
    For Kokorec, I ma not a big Bambi fan. try it from a street cart where they grill it over charcoal on a horizontal spit. much better. You can find it around the Galata Tower most days.
    Speaking of horizontal spits, you must get a cag kebab- probably my favorite kebab. the easiest place to get it is in Hocapasa sok. in Sirkeci at Sehzade.
    Get some simple honest fish at Adem Baba in Arnavutkoy, even though its not really fish eating season. Or go up to Kiyi in Tarabya for a more formal fish meal.
    I highly recommend a dinner at Antiochia in Tunel/Beyoglu. Great Hatay specialties in a fun and lively environment.
    For something different, try the Uighur manti and lagman at DTVAE in Fatih. Its the real thing, prepared fresh by a UIghur fellow from Kashgar.
    Get yourself some chicken breast pudding down at Kismet Muhallebecisi in Kucuki Pazar after a Buryan lunch at Siirt Seref in the Kadinlar Pazari.
    There's a lot of fuss on the subject of Iskender. I like Bursa Kebab on Sakiz Agac in Beyoglu but some people shrug this place off. My friend Atilla swears by one in Kadikoy next to the post office at a place called Kebapci Iskender.
    Good luck. Hope you'll report back on your findings.

    3 Replies
    1. re: antman

      Lots of Istanbul reports here. Followups to recs off

      Adem Baba, Ismet Baba and Zubeyir are the ones off the top of my head that would be labeled don't miss on any trip to Istanbul.

      In Macka, Orhan's sucuk stand is top notch. It would take a solid year in the city to even scratch the surface but good work can be done in 3 weeks.

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        After reading this:

        I have a few questions:

        How is İskele Rumeli Hisarı?

        How is Zuma London?

        How is Aşşk Cafe?

        How is Borsa Lokantası? And how can they get away with calling themselves a lokanta with those kinds of prices?

        How is Eftalya? And how does it compare to Adem Baba?

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          I also read that article in the newspaper and was equally puzzled by some of the selections.
          Iskele is a wonderful place to splash out on a traditional meal of fish. Not peerless in Istanbul but definitely top notch.
          Zuma is a London-based Sushi chain with a branch in a hotel in Ortakoy. Good sushi. light lunch will cost $100/person easily. Its inclusion in this roundup makes no sense to me.
          I havent been to the other places (aside from the not very noteworthy Borsa) and I am not inclined to follow this articles advice.
          I think it is important to note that a certain local Istanbul clientele (that this article was probably aimed at) often prefers glitz to great food.

    2. What you are missing? Originality!!

      You can understand what I mean when you try Adana kebap and lahmacun in original form for example in Yuzevler Etiler, Dostlar, Kozyatagi.

      Fast food service wherher keeps visuality or not, unavoidably wipes out taste or flavor.

      1. I posted this before, here I paste it for you....have fun and bon appetite....

        1- Street food: Make sure you try fried mussels with tartar sauce and also kokorec (sauteed lamb intestines with spices) both at Sampiyon in Taksim (next to Cicek pasaji).
        2- Go to Nevizade at least one night for trditional turkish meyhane. I suggest either Imroz, Boncuk or Demgah. Try pacanga borek, lakerda and arnavut ciger (sauteed liver) with some Raki (my favorite is Tekirdag).
        3- Go to Set Balikcisi (seafood restaurant). Don't order main dish! Order few unique seafood appetizers.
        4- Try adana kebap at this street restaurant, not fency but real genuine and always grilled over hardwood charcoal: Musa Ustam in Taksim/Beyoglu.
        5- Before you depart Turkey, make sure you go to Bebek Badem Ezmecisi (in Bebek) for Almond or Pistachio paste. Get box of 1 pound (or 2 :o)) each!
        6- A modern fusion restaurant with some turkish twist: Canga in Siraselviler.
        7- High end kebap: Tike Restaurant (make sure you get some kofte, cacik, grilled eggplant).
        8- Inci Pastanesi in Beyoglu: Best profiterol money can buy, period!!!!
        9- For late night drink with beautiful views: Anjelique, Hotel Marmara rooftop, 360 are hard to beat!