Travel

Istanbul Eats Part III

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Best Kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) breakfast – Besiktas Kaymakci (AKA Kaymakci Pando)

Since I read about Kaymak here. I just had’t been able to get the image of pillow soft looking clotted cream out of my mind. Just typing this makes me drool now..

Besiktas Kaymakci (aka Pando) has been around since 1895 and had made a name for itself by doing simple breakfast well. We stayed at the beautiful Kempinski, which is just 15 minutes walk from Pando. When we asked the concierge for direction, they were initially surprised (how did you hear about this?) and then looked really concerned. They explained that this is a very simple local breakfast place and we assured them that we knew what we were getting into. Even though it wasn’t the easiest task to get to Pando (even with maps in hands) because of the confusing address, people were just soooo helpful, we were incredibly grateful for everyone who stopped and helped us, either by pointing us to the right direction, or by helping us ask around, one even stopped and looked up the map on his phone!

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Even though Pando and his lovely wife do not speak English, nor were there any menu to point at, I showed them the picture in the article, we exchanged nods and smiles and Pando went on to prepare our long awaited meal (at this point I was seriously grinning from ear to ear). When the breakfast was set before us, it looked identical to the one in the picture! And there it is! Cloud of white clotted cream soaked in honey, light and fluffy but dense and creamy at the same time, so decadent and divine. I could fly to Istanbul just for this pure indulgence 🙂

Add: Koyici MeydanI Sk,Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey

Go early to avoid the long line

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Islak Burger (Wet burgers)- Taksim Square

I know it sounds nasty, I first heard of it on Anthony Bourdain’s show and he seemed to have enjoyed it immensely. Lisa and I were just strolling along the trendy Taksim neighborhood and there it was, just like the one I’ve seen in the show, burgers staked in a glass “incubator” where they are kept warm/hot/wet.. sounds like a hot mess already.. Lisa and I looked at each other and decided to share one. OMG, you won’t believe it, soft, fluffy, chewy bun coated in bright orange garlic infused tomato sauce with juicy patty in between. The surface of it was kinda like the Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts with sticky glaze surface but instead of being sweet, it’s savory and slightly spicy. It’s been voted as one of the best street foods in Istanbul, even though it’s been described as drunk’s best friend, it tasted every bit delicious sober!

Kizilkayalar Hamburger

Add: Siraselviler Caddesi 6, Taksim Square (Open 24-7)

I’m missing Turkey dearly at this point … *cry*

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Travel

Istanbul Eats Part II

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Confectionary stores in Turkey (selling lokum and baklava etc) are like 7-11s in Asia, you can’t walk a few steps without running into one, although they all look temptingly delicious, only a handful of them do it well. I was obsessive about doing my research, reading all about the best baklava and lokum in Turkey before our trip and had my fair share of tasting when I was there. The first day we landed in Istanbul, Lisa had to drag me away from baklava and lokum, I wanted to try all the ones listed on the top 10 list; Karakoy Gulluoglu, Haci Bekir, Hafiz Mustafa 1864 just to name a few. While the famous/ popular names offer a wide variety (one might ask how many variation can baklava or lokum come in, the answer is A LOT), they were not particularly outstanding. Thanks to the local blogs and friends who are seasoned travelers- these recommendations made my heart sing 😉

 

Best baklava-Cigdem pastanesi

Layers of paper thin phyllo pastry sheets stuffed with chopped nuts drenched in rich honey sounds every bit alluring. I dragged Lisa over to the Galata Bridge just to try Karakoy Gulluoglu but their baklava were overly heavy. Cigdem Pastanesi’s baklava was by far the best I’d tried, it was rich, decadent, moist and sweet without being cloying the pistachio fresh and crunchy… mmmmm… the amount of honey/ syrup/ butter lavished in this “small” dose of sinful pleasure has gotta be bad for you but it tasted sooooo good!

V: *about to step into yet another confectionery after devouring 3 pieces of baklava thru the day and had more lokum than any human could possibly have*

Lisa: stop!! *pulled viv away* learn to say no!!

V: *with tears in her eyes* no…  *stuff another lokum from the sampling plate in her mouth*

Address: Divanyolu Cad. 62,  Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

T: +902125268859

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Best Lokum (Turkish delight)- Egyptian Bazaar Pinar (No.14)

I read about store no. 14 at the Egyptian Bazaar which apparently has exceptionally good lokum and was determined to hunt it down. There are two sets of store numbers, one set runs outside the Egyptian (open air) and the other set numbers the stores that are actually inside the bazaar. Pinar is inside the bazaar, I bought the double pistachio lokum after sampling the first plate they handed me. Its texture was perfect! It was chewy without being tough, it was bouncy with a good bite to it. The flavor was excellent too, it was sweet without overly sugary and the pistachio flavor was very prominent. They were so good, I probably din stop eating since the minute I stepped in, and even after they wrapped up my purchase and was waiting for me to leave I was still hanging around and stuffing my face, they had to move that sampling plate away from me *blush* at which point Lisa peeled me away from the store

Egyptian Bazaar stall no 14

Open 8am-7pm Mon-Sat

Stayed at the beautiful Ciragan Palace Kempinski

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Travel

Istanbul Eats Part I

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Lisa, Xing and I went on this amazing trip in Turkey last fall, we visited 6 towns/cities in 12 days; experienced different landscapes, architecture and cuisine, we were greeted with the warmest smiles, seen the most beautiful sunset, had the best laughs =) Lisa’s post on Turkey inspired me to blog about the food we ate, a lot of the pictures are from her too since our official photographer takes such gorgeous pictures

Turkey’s unique heritage of having been under Roman, Christian, Ottoman empire and its strategic location straddling Asia and Europe; being the melting pot of different culture and religion gave rise to the diversity in architecture and cuisines. When people think about Turkish food, they think of kebab, yes there are kebab everywhere but there’s also a lot more to Turkish cuisine than kebab. The cities/ towns along the coast serves up some of the most incredibly fresh seafood and the use of olive, spice, herbs varies depending on the region you are in.

I’ve sent this list out about a thousand times after my trip so its good to have it documented finally:

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Best Dining Experience- Matbah Ottoman Palace Cuisine

As its name suggests, Matbah serves delectable dishes from Matbah Beray (Kitchen of Sultan’s Palace); a feast fit for royalty. Food was delicate and well thought out, I would recommend the sailor cheese, honeydew melon with chopped beef, white and black pepper,raisins,almonds and rice and the lamb shank! If weather allows, I would ask for a table on the rooftop garden, excellent service and the environment inviting and comfortable; we had a great time that night.

Add: Caferiye Sokak No. 6/1, Sultanahmet 34400 Istanbul

T: +90 212 514 6151

W: www.matbahrestaurant.com

Best View-  Hamdi Restaurant. It’s not the best kebab I must admit but food is decent and this is the view you get

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You can watch the sky changes from azure to orange, red and pink to purple to dark blue as you take in all the delightful mezes and kebab. The restaurant is right at the harbor front overlooking the Galata Bridge, with the Spice market being just 5 minutes away. We went there twice that trip as Lisa’s camera ran out of battery the first time we were there. Make sure you book a table on the top floor by the window as the restaurant is very popular. I had the pistachio kebab, the pistachio bits added a rich, nutty flavor to the already flavorful lamb kebabs, they brought us a few mezes to choose from while we were waiting for our mains and those were very tasty as well. We wanted to try the little lahmacun which is the Turkish version of thin crust pizza but it was unavailable =( all in all I think it was a good dining experience as service was great, food was decent, it’s in a great location and the view was fantastic

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Add: Tahmis Cad KalcIn Sok No.17 Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey (on the open square to the right of the Spice Bazaar)

T: (212) 528-0390
Web: www.hamdi.com.tr

More on the next post 😉

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