Tag Archives: istanbul

Gelik (six courses of meat)

10 Feb

Gelik Atakoy (near the airport, outside the city, though there are two other locations) was another local recommendation in Istanbul, and was probably my favorite meal of the trip (followed by the informal adana kebab in the Grand Bazaar).

To start, a sort of rice pilaf with lots of cracked black pepper (excellent — I don’t know if it was fresher or different black pepper, or if there were other spices as well), a salad, some pulped eggplant (in white), and more adventurously (the brownish-pink lump): çig köfte, a sort of meatball of raw ground beef, bulgur, and red pepper. I liked it quite a bit. [ side note: looking up its name later turned up an NIH paper about the antimicrobial effects of chopped garlic in raw meat ]

Then, many courses of meat, including döner (roasted lamb on a vertical spit), kofte (meatballs), a mouth-watering small lamb chop, lamb cooked in an underground pit until very tender (which Wikipedia’s List of Kebabs suggests was kuyu kebab), and chicken wings. Just a few photos:

For dessert, a pastry with a crunchy, threaded, shredded-wheat-like texture (Kunefe, Kataifi, or one of many other names), pistachios, and a soft cheese. It wasn’t really my thing, though the texture was interesting: [ side note: how it’s made ]

Yüksel Balık (fish restaurant), Istanbul

10 Feb

(wrapping up a few food photos from a recent trip to Turkey):

On the recommendation of a local, we went to Yüksel Balık, a good fish restaurant right by the ocean, a bit outside the city center. They bring you into a side room where recently-caught fish are laid out on a cold marble slab. You pick one or more, tell them how you want it cooked (they typically fry it), and get charged based on the weight.

I chose some hamsi (a type of anchovy) as an appetizer to share, and a spiky, fierce-looking turbot (a sort of flat fish, see below:)

Fried bones-in, the hamsi were very good, and fish-oily:

The spikes on the turbot survived the cooking process… and it was good, though a bit bland:

Overall, a good dinner (and sweet-dessert collection with variants on baklava).

Eating in Istanbul

6 Feb

I suddenly had to go to Istanbul for a few days (long story). So, of course, I have to fit in some eating:

People were drinking Turkish tea in small clear glasses with a lump of sugar everywhere I went. In the Grand Bazaar, I’d see delivery people running around with trays of 5 or 6 glasses of it. I finally happened on a tiny tea stand in the market where the runners were picking it up:

I had a few glasses over the course of the day– it was the default drink to get with any food, and as a slightly bitter and acidic drink was a nice break from all of the intense sweets and fatty meat:

My favorite food so far was at Kara Mehmet, which I’d read about on Chowhound and some random blogs. It’s an informal little cafe in one of the quiet courtyards (Cebeci Han) nestled within the Grand Bazaar. It took some time to find, but I finally noticed a sign with an arrow pointing towards Cebeci Han.

Their Adana Kebab is a mix of minced lamb and some “tail fat”, giving it a rich flavor and cohesive texture (reminding me of  meatballs I’ve had wrapped in caul fat). And the onions covered with slightly-acidic sumac were a great complement, along with a charred pepper. I highly recommend this place. And it was only about $7.


I also had a Turkish Coffee, which came in this presentation:

One piece of Turkish Delight (gel, sugar, mastic, some date puree perhaps?), and the thick, silty, sweet Turkish Coffee, which may have now edged out Vietnamese Coffee as my favorite strong-small-sweet form for coffee.

Lamb shawerma / gyro, cooked on a spit in front of a stack of coals, with a nonchalantly elaborate tile wall, also inside the sprawling Bazaar:

Served with bread, pickled hot peppers, and a shaker full of sumac powder. Tasty, and cheap, but not change-my-life amazing (perhaps slightly better than Truly Med in San Francisco):

Many street stalls selling fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice for $1:

I’m a sucker for roasted chestnuts when it’s cold out. And for old mechanical balances for weighing them out:

Even a normally-boring hotel breakfast isn’t too bad– olives, fish, a sesame sweet similar to halva, dates, and so on (Turks are comfortable eating sweets any time of the day):

And, a street bread vendor in the Book Bazaar:

Off to a good start…

“Lion’s Milk” (Raki)

5 Feb

Once I heard it was anise-based (like Pernod, Pastis, Ouzo, and so on, but unsweetened, unlike Sambuca), I had to try the unofficial national drink of Turkey, Raki.

Not bad, though better with food (cooked meat).