For all those that know me and for those that have recently come across my blog, an important thing to remember is that I LOVE food and I love to take images of my food. This isn’t something new but I am not going to pretend like I don’t love sharing images of one of the sources of pure joy in my life. Tasting the food around Turkey had its advantages in two ways: for starters, majority of it was halaal, and secondly, it wasn’t as irrationally priced. As someone living in Cape Town, I have to admit the best place to get amazing food is South Africa in terms of price, value and halaal friendliness. Therefore, any place I travel to is automatically compared to South Africa.
In my opinion, Turkish food is generally bland and while I can’t tolerate hot food (I know I am an embarrassment to Indians worldwide), I still require some spice! Luckily, I had the pleasure of trying different cuisine in Turkey every night. The occasional take out was inevitable but the restaurants that left a place in my tummy and my heart are all below.
This restaurant is the place to visit if you wish to tantalise your taste buds with an authentic Turkish meal. The word Gelik refers to “Mountain House” as the quaint aesthetic of the restaurant resembles a house with a garden growing through it (strange but you’ll understand when you notice the creeping fig everywhere).
For starters, I helped myself to a basic Turkish salad and of course their mouth-watering bread. My main meal consisted of the Turkish pilau (divine!), a mixed grill of lamb and chicken served with vegetables and chips. As if this wasn’t enough, I helped myself to a truly authentic Turk dessert known as Kanafeh. Now just a heads up, it is filling and I am pretty sure I still have some Kanafeh in me! It is also known as kunafeh or kunafah and it is cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. If you have a sweet tooth then this is your perfect dose of diabetes, however, I would recommend sharing the dessert. To end off the night, it is a Turk tradition to wash the sweet with the strong, bitter taste of Turkish tea. Perhaps you may have tried this at a restaurant, but I guarantee nothing can ever come as close to the real deal!
If you’re a big lover of Italian food and you need your fix of Italian in Turkey, then Punto is the place for you to visit. I visited the Punto situated in the Zorlu centre not too far from my hotel, so accessibility was fairly easy. I treated myself to a Napoletana pasta (it is probably my favourite pasta sauce) and a simple Turkish salad. It was a simple meal and it may not be for everyone but wherever I go I still need my pasta fix so I had to try something! The service was fantastic and I think a treat all round.
On our first night in Istanbul, we tried out SushiCo. As a chain restaurant, it lives up to its reputation as being top-notch food. As a lover of Thai and Asian cuisine, we visited this place twice!
Another reasonably priced restaurant and value for money as well. The service, as all over Turkey, was great. The food rolled in swiftly and spicy – just how we liked it. We ordered an array of ginger chicken, pad thai, gyoza, spicy beef, prawns, sea bass and any form of thai food you could imagine. Seriously, look at this food…
Saving the best for last over here and my mouth is already watering before I have even started typing. Unless you have been living under a rock the last year, you would have heard of the famous #saltbae. That’s right, the man who sprinkles salt like a sprinkler! Before he became famous for this hand gesture, he was known by his name Nusret Gokce. As a Turkish chef, he owns a chain of steak houses in Turkey, Dubai and soon to be London! If there ever was a man who loved steak more than life itself then it would be Nusret! Out of all the food places I visited, this restaurant was definitely the priciest of the lot but was it worth it? YOU BET IT WAS!
The steak at his restaurants are matured and handled in such a way that the meat melts the minute it touches your mouth. If you were eating a steak a certain way before, you’ll be questioning your life choices after visiting Nusret. The threshold has been set so high that I don’t think Spur would ever seem the same! On top of that, the service was impeccable considering the line to enter the restaurant reached the road. Each employee was on top form and ready to serve at lightning speed.
For starters, the Turkish salad was a must, including their grilled prawns. Salt, being the speciality, was accompanied as a side. As a main, I had a Lokum burger and my family helped themselves to the New York and Nusret Kobe steak. Each meat placed before us was seasoned to perfection – it truly was a delight. The night ended with the scrumptious Mado ice cream served in a slice of baklava, an authentic Turkish pastry. If you’re ever in a country that has a Nusret chain, stop what you’re doing, save up and go to his restaurant! You won’t regret it!
DEATH by food? Oh for sure people. Turkey definitely did not disappoint!!