What to eat in Istanbul? (Vol.1)

A classic: Kebab

As a popular tourist destination and the hometown of roughly 15 million people; Istanbul offers a vast amount of choices when it comes to eating and drinking.

Kebab is the first meal when someone thinks of Turkish cuisine. Basically Kebab is a dish that consist of cut up or ground meat cooked generally on charcoal grill. Although many dishes are categorized as kebab in Turkey the most famous ones are Adana Kebab, Doner (rotating) Kebab and Shish Kebab.

Adana kebab is hand minced meat mounted on a metal skewer. Served with various side items like lavash, grilled tomatoes and capsicum, onion etc. This kebab is named after Adana city, one of the top foodie cities of Turkey. This kebab has its unchanging place in the menu of almost every Turkish restaurant that serves meat.

Doner kebab is a column of stacked meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. When the outer most layer of the column is cooked enough, slices are cut and served. Traditional serving styles are:

  • “portion” (on plate with some vegetables)
  • “over rice” (slices on a base of rice)
  • “iskender” (speciality of Bursa city. Slices on a base of pide, with tomato sauce and boiling fresh butter )

Shish kebab is seasoned lamb meat pieces on a “shish” (skewer). Thanks to the seasoning it is very soft, juicy and tasty, a “must to eat” of someone who is curious about Turkish tastes. 

Adana Keabab
Doner Kebab
shish kebab
Shish kebab

Seafood

Surrounded by the sea on 3 sides, Turkey has many tastes to offer for the lovers of sea food.

Anchovy, sea bass, blue fishbonito and bream are the generic fish varieties that are available in sea food restaurants. The fish season in Turkey is the winter time. That’s also the right time to eat fish as they are rich on fat due to the cold sea temperatures. Please note that it is a wise decision to order the cheapest option in the menu as this one will be the fish of the season which is abundant.

Sea bass and bream are widely cultivated in captivity in Turkey. If you are not expert enough to distinguish the difference between a cultivated and a natural fish, better be cautious. Those 2 fishes may be risky choices as they will not be very tasty if cultivated.

To satisfy customers, a typical Turkish seafood restaurant should offer much more than just fish.  The richness and quality of the appetizers is a factor of great importance for naming that restaurant a “good one”. Appetizers (“meze” in turkish) are served in small plates and shared by everyone at the table. Yogurt, cheese, vegetables and beans are the main ingredients of Turkish appetizers. It is very common to find at least 20 different type of appetizers in the menu of a good restaurant.

Needless to say, one should have a glass of rakı (traditional Turkish alcoholic drink) to enjoy the table in a Turkish way. With an alcohol content of 40%, raki is served cold and diluted with water. 

anchovy istanbul
Fried anchovy
Grilled Bluefish
raki
Turkish Raki
Just some examples of Turkish meze varieties

Desserts and Delights

We believe that this topic merits its own page. Will be added to posts shortly.

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