New colonial flair near Ýstiklal Street
A new restaurant has opened on a side street off Ýstiklal that aims to subtly transform the neighborhood. The restaurant, located in a new boutique hotel, might be hard to find, but for those seeking mouthwatering, zesty Thai cuisine, it's worth the search
The number eight in China symbolizes health, wealth and good luck. The restaurant 8 Istanbul, with an Asian twist, which opened almost three months ago, is bound to be one of the most successful, swanky restaurants in Beyoðlu district.
Located next to the Taksim police station on the bottom floor of the Misafir Suites Istanbul Hotel, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner to both hotel clientele and its popular Turkish patrons. 8 Istanbul likes to maintain a low profile; many customers have only discovered it by word of mouth.
Walking into the establishment, a mixture of spacious, rounded, wooden Thai colonial-style tables catch the eye. High ceilings, modern metal details, Sahara-style shutters and palm leafs are delightful details to match the French colonial image. A 100-year-old oak wood communal table is set in the middle of the roomy dinning area. An open kitchen across the bar gives an impression of high self-esteem and good hygiene.
With regard to the food, the menu is described as "world cuisine with a Thai twist" and concentrates on a few classic southeastern Asian dishes, though Wiener schnitzels and sandwiches are also available. As in many cuisines, freshness is key to Thai cooking, and every dish sampled at 8 Istanbul had the zing of being freshly made. You can watch the peeling, tossing and cooking in the open kitchen as the Thai cook and her crew whip up the dishes.
Overall the sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors of the cuisine will be leave a mark and leave one longing to return to 8 Istanbul – especially those not fortunate enough to visit Thailand any time soon… For starters, Thai Chicken Sate is tender and sweet and comes with a well-rounded spicy peanut sate sauce. The Samoras are quite different from what one has come to expect of fried food in Asian restaurants: They do not taste at all heavy and are light, crispy, and fresh. The dish comes with an arrangement of diverse, homemade dipping sauces.
The Shish, tastefully arranged on a platter with a green salad and fries, is excellent. The meat has been carefully selected and marinated and is tender and succulent. The salad comes with well-rounded vinaigrette and the fries are thick and crispy – honestly one of the best shish kebabs in Istanbul!
The Seafood Salad consists of greens mixed with a variety of squid, calamari and other seafood. The homemade sauce is zesty, spicy and typically Thai with traces of lemongrass and red chili. Yet the highlight of the meal was the Pad Thai. Noodle dishes are another Thai specialty, and the Pad Thai – noodles with shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts and onion – at 8 Istanbul was superbly rewarding.
For dessert, the menu specializes in a few items. The suggested Apple Tarte Tatin is one of the best desserts in restaurants in this price category in Istanbul. An apple cinnamon stew rests atop a tart pie. The creation is crowned by a generous helping of the house cream mixture – yogurt, cream, clotted cream (kaymak) and cottage cheese. Although this delectable dessert will not help one trim their waste line, one will leave 8 Istanbul reassured that good food and good desserts can be had at reasonable prices – right in the middle of Beyoðlu! Expect to spend around YTL 50 per person for a three course meal, not including drinks.