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If you only eat kosher, Istanbul doesn?t have much to offer. There are plenty of vegetarian options, of course, but the smell of all that meat grilling ? kebaps, koftesi, etc. ? does give you an appetite. So what do you do? You hop on a ferry and head for the island of Buyukada where they have a kosher meat restaurant.
?Meshur Sultanmehmet? (which the waiter translated as ?Vision of Istanbul?) is on Nisan Cadessi, where all the restaurants and shops are clustered, just up the road from the ferry station. It looks like all the other restaurants, but with one distinction. It has a certificate on the wall and a big sign in Hebrew that says ?The Restaurant, Reliable Kashrut, Buyukada, Rabbinical Supervision.?
Why is there a kosher restaurant on the island? Apparently this is where many Jewish Istanbullus (Yes! This is the plural!) spend their summer vacations.
We ate out on the wooden deck that overlooks the harbor. You do see the shimmering blue water (although the view is somewhat blocked by an asbestos roof and a TV satellite dish). The food was simple but nice. The grilled meat patties (koftesi), which came with a few shredded vegetables, cost 6.5 YTL, and the Denise fish (sea bream) was a little pricier at 10 YTL.
In the corner two workers were sitting at a table spreading chopped meat on what they described as Turkish pizza. Dozens of these meat-topped rounds were laid out on the table in preparation for freezing. Kosher cuisine does not mix meat and dairy, so obviously these were not the tomato and cheese triangles that one normally associates with pizza.
Updated Mar 8, 2006
Address: 23 Nisan Cadessi
If you are hungry you wlil find a lot of restaurants from all kinds on the first square (from the ferry stop) , kebap , seafood , coffee and many more.
Favorite Dish: We ate in a restautant that i dont remember the name , i ate chicken kebap in a pita bread with french fries and it was very good and not too expensive (4-5 YTL).
Updated Dec 4, 2006
Address: The first square
Restaurant is located in beautiful surrounding just on the hill nearby Greek St. George monastery. The place allows enjoying Marmara sea with Istanbul panorama far away.
I ordered apple tea and chicken shish. Not so usually, but main dish was not as big as I expected (as I tried it in other places before). Service was a bit too slow. Anyway, place is worth visiting for nice views to the sea.
I paid about 14 liras (6,30 euros) for apple tea and chicken shish.
Updated Jul 3, 2011
There is a line of seafood restaurants along the shore of Buyukada, of which Mimosa was one of the first. I have to say I chose it mainly based on the fact that we'd been annoyingly targetted while on the mainland by someone handing out leaflets for another restaurant, Ali Baba. That said, we were practically dragged into Mimosa.
The restaurant was empty except for the staff, something my partner immediately started moaning about. Well, it was a raining day in November, so everywhere was deserted (except Ali Baba). He also wasn't too keen on the smell of cat wee, which I had to admit was fairly keen. Or the fact the restaurant was rather tatty.
But I was determined to enjoy my meal. We asked if we could just have a selection of mezze and the staff were happy to do that, although they did mislead us over the prices*. What came was good, though, and went some way to winning my boyfriend over. We chose a spicy spinach and aubergine stew from the cold mezze list and calamari (nice and tender) with cacik and shrimps baked in tomato and cheese sauce from the hot menu. The last item was off the menu, made up for us, and was particularly tasty. You enjoy all of this while looking out over the sea.
We were feeling better about the Mimosa by this point and another couple had even come in. I can even say that the smell of cat urine is probably not a reflection on the place - Buyukada is crammed full of the creatures and the seafront restaurants are semi-open. However, the bill rankled. Now, I enjoyed my food overall and our waiter was helpful, but make sure you know what you're going to be paying.
*I've written a Tourist Trap tip if you'd like to know more...
Updated Jan 20, 2008
Address: Gulistan Caddesi, Buyukada
Great location and welcoming staff but the name should have been a warning. 50 lira for a very small flounder, fried. They didn't even add garnish. With many other restaurants to choose from, avoid Ali Baba and his 40 theives.
Written Sep 28, 2008
Address: Gulistan Caddesi No: 20
Kahve Dunyasi, located just above main street on Buyukada Is., is a coffeeshop and also has chocolates. We wanted to have a coffe and then take some of the chocolates with us for our walk around the island. We entered the shop and asked to try the chocolate covered coffee beans (they were great by the way) and after tasting asked for 200 grams....the manager handed us the bag and said "NO CHARGE"...we thanked them very much and ordered our coffee.
Favorite Dish: The coffee was very good and we enjoyed sitting on the terrace overlooking the sea. You also get a small dish of the candies with your coffee. All in all it turned out to be a great place to stop and rest our feet from our walking tour of the island.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
This "tip" could be in the local customs also, but since we were in Turkey, I enjoyed the local drink each and every day, drinking from a small hour-glass shaped glass. On several occassions I saw tourists being given tea in a porcelin cup instead of this local glass, I was only served this way once in our hotel and asked for a "regular" cup the next time.
Favorite Dish: If you ever see the guy sitting behind me, tell him to write...He is a gentleman from Morrocco who was visiting and we began talking, enjoying a few minutes of getting to know strangers met on the wing. I gave him my card and he promised to write, but so far have not heard from him, so if you know his name....
Written Jan 20, 2009
Although I 've been "studying" this site each time I travel, I had never written smthing in the past. And the reason I became a member today, is to be able to write a warning about a restaurant in Buyukada which I visited yesterday.
I am Greek and visited the island with my wife. As we were walking along the sea-side street (Gyulistan) trying to decide where to eat, we saw the sign-board of "Kapri" in number 10 or 12, indicating that the restaurant belongs to a Greek man named Giorgos. So we decided to stay there.
It all proved to be the most stupid money I 've spent in my life:
- There was no menu with prices. When I asked for one, Mr Giorgos said: Come and see the fish and I 'll tell you the prices. Of course, when I went to see the fish, he had a special technique to make the client concentrate on the food he 'd order and not ask for the prices. I am a merchant and I understood this technique (unfortunately after I paid).
- We were brought extras which we hadn't ordered (a lot of bread, a bottle of water). We thought they'd be free, but the charged them - in prices of two digits.
- My wife ordered a simple glass of wine. The (very polite) waiter opened a bottle in front of her, filled her small glass and took the bottle away. When we paid, the full bottle had been charged.
- When we asked for the bill, everything was only in Turkish (logical), but with such awful handwriting, that even a local person would be unable to read it.
- There was no official receipt from the machine. Just the bad-written bill I mentioned before. Tax evasion? Attempt to leave no traces of overcharging? Who knows!
Conclusion: We paid 190 liras (95 Euros) for one small appetizer of octopus, a badly cut lettuce-salad, one personal dish of fish, one portion of shrimp containing 4 shrimps, one glass of wine and 2 small Cokes (330 ml each). The service was excellent, the food was well-cooked (not the salad), the portions were tiny, the prices were at least double the normal. In a good restaurant at the center of Instabul, we 'd have eaten the same with no more than 100 liras.
As I have understood, this is probably the general situation in the 5-6 restaurants in Gyulistan Street. I think I should avoid this street next time.
Updated Oct 3, 2010
Address: Gyulistan 10 or 12
We were attracted to the fish restaurants on the seafront, and decided to try one of the better looking ones. It was, however, very disappointing - To begin with, the shrimp starter was tasteless, the fried cheese pasties had very little cheese in them. The fish dish baked in clay had been pre-prepared and heated up. All-in-all, very disappointing. We learned our lesson and decided not to go back to this area. The other meals we had were all in restaurants in the town and were delicious and far more interesting. Take my advice and stay away from the seafront - you'll be tempted by the views and the sunset, but it just isn't worth it and you'll be ripped off. We paid a lot of money for a very insubstantial and unsatisfactory meal.
Favorite Dish: nothing we had was very good and the drinks (especially the wine) was extortionate
Written Mar 31, 2010
There are many nice and cheap restaurants on the small streets which goes thru to port. I don't remember the name of our restaurant but I put a photo from there. :-))
Updated Jun 23, 2008