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During our brief visit to Istanbul in February 2013, we encountered many carts selling chestnuts ("kestane") and corn on the cob ("misir").
I always enjoy hot roast chestnuts and the ones for sale on the streets of Istanbul looked particularly tempting. I finally succumbed and bought some from a cart that was located in the bustling area between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.
Chestnuts could be purchased in the following quantities:
100g = 4 TL (£1.60)
150g = 5TL (£2.00)
300g = 10TL (£4.00)
I purchased 150g, which equated to about 10 chestnuts. They were well cooked and the shells practically fell off them (so no frustration or sore finger nails!)
As well as chestnuts and corn, we also saw carts selling cups of hot halva (delicious, we tried some at a shop near Taksim Square), salep (a sweet drink made from orchid roots that we had previously sampled in Athens) and, of course, the ubiquitous simit carts selling bread rings covered in sesame seeds.
Written Mar 13, 2013
Address: Throughout the city
We ate at The Han Restaurant during our visit to Istanbul in February 2013.
We found this "Ottoman Cuisine" restaurant on Soğuk Çeşme Sokak, just around the corner from Hagia Sofia as we were walking towards the entrance of Gülhane Park.
We would probably have walked straight past it but for the fact that there was a large crowd gathered outside the restaurant looking through the window. We stopped to see what the attraction was and saw two ladies inside diligently preparing Gözleme pancakes by hand. They were carefully rolling out the dough with thin rolling pins, filling the pancakes with various ingredients and cooking them on a large griddle.
Just to the side of the ladies was an inviting area of cushioned seating and low tables (the kind where you sit cross legged while eating your meal...or at least you do if you're more flexible than I am!) and it was bathed in sunlight. We decided to go in and lounge on the cushions and sample the handmade pancakes!
There was a full page of the menu devoted to Gözleme pancakes; filled with feta cheese, spinach, mushrooms, yellow cheese, minced beef and onion and a sweet option containing halva, chocolate, honey and raspberry.
They were quite expensive, but so too was the rest of the menu, which featured various meze dishes and grilled meats. I certainly got the impression that we were paying tourist prices rather than local prices.
We each ordered a Gözleme pancake; mine was filled with mushrooms and cost 12 TL (£4.50) and Emma's was filled with feta cheese and spinach and cost 16 TL (£6.00). Neither came with any accompaniments. The pancakes were nice enough, but nothing special, and we were clearly paying for the novelty value of being able to see them being hand prepared.
As well as the pancakes, we both ordered a glass of Turkish tea. It too was relatively expensive at 5 TL (£2.00) a glass. The same glass would have cost 2TL or less in a local cafe.
When the waitress took our order she enquired whether we'd be ordering "main courses" as well; the pancakes were supposed to be an accompaniment to something more substantial. At the prices that The Han charge, we certainly weren't ordering main courses as well! We didn't feel so bad when the two ladies at the table next to us also just ordered pancakes and tea!
Incidentally, the ladies who were sitting by the windows producing the pancakes continued to attract large crowds of observers throughout the course of our meal. I'm sure we weren't the only tourists tempted inside by the seemingly authentic handmade pancakes. They were nice enough....just not particularly good value for money.
Handmade Gözleme pancakes. Nice enough, but a bit overpriced and touristy!
Written Mar 13, 2013
Address: Soğuk Çeşme Sokak No:26
Phone: (0212) 526 62 62
It's a familiar sight at the Galata bridge: dozens of fisher men busy catching fish.
At the Galata shore side fish is being prepared at the food stalls.
What a direct way in the food chain.
Updated Mar 7, 2013
This place is very popular of its breakfast.It has a great view and very close to the museum Sakıp Sabancı(SSM)
Just go there early because it's very crowded especially on Sundays.
Favorite Dish: Breakfast
Written Mar 4, 2013
Address: Sakıp Sabancı Cad. No:1/3 Emirgan
Phone: 0 212 323 50 30
During our brief visit to Istanbul in February 2013, I was keen to sample the city's famous fish sandwiches ("balik ekmek").
I had read that the area around Galata Bridge was a good place to find balik ekmek, especially the restaurants that line the lower deck of the bridge.
Sure enough, as we walked along the bridge we found dozens of restaurants advertising balik ekmek and saw fish being grilled outside some of them. Most places were charging 5 TL for balik ekmek, but some more basic places just beyond the Karaköy end of the bridge were charging only 4 TL. Prices were pretty standard from one place to the next.
After walking both ways across the bridge, we decided to have lunch at Cansin Cafe; a large restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining areas close to the Eminönü end of the bridge. Where most restaurants had a sign displaying their name, Cansin Cafe had a sign with large bright lettering that read "BALIK EKMEK SALATA 5 TL". Clearly this was a place that, although having a full menu of dishes, specialised in balik ekmek.
We sat at an outdoor table, beneath a canopy. It was a cold day, but the outside tables, overlooking the water, were more atmospheric than the indoor ones in the brightly lit dining room. We could see the fish being grilled just behind our table.
The staff at Cansin Cafe were friendly and welcoming. In particular, one very attentive elderly lady kept stopping by our table to wipe it down and to furnish us with unnecessary quantities of napkins and toothpicks.
Of course, I opted for the Balik Ekmek Salata (5 TL (£2)) – a crusty bread roll with a grilled fillet of fish, lettuce, onions and grated carrot. It was very tasty. My first mouthful consisted of lots of small bones and I initially regretted ordering it. After that, however, it wasn't too bad; just a few tiny bones to contend with, and a lot of careful chewing.
Emma, who isn't as keen on seafood as I am, enjoyed the Kofte Ekmek (6 TL (£2.40)) – a meatball sandwich with salad leaves, onions and carrot.
We both had glasses of Turkish tea (2 TL (£0.80) each).
A good value lunch of balik ekmek and Turkish tea on Galata Bridge. Recommended!
Written Mar 2, 2013
Address: Galata Bridge (Eminönü side)
We arrived in Kadiköy on a bus from Sabiha Gökçen airport at around 6:30am on a cold Sunday morning in February 2013. The ferries to Eminönü hadn't yet started, so we took the opportunity to grab some breakfast before heading into the heart of Istanbul.
The street immediately behind the bus terminal (Kadıköy Haydarpaşa Rıhtım Caddesi) is lined with cafes, and Murat Muhallebicisi, on the corner of Kadıköy Haydarpaşa Rıhtım Caddesi and Recaizade Sok, looked particularly inviting with its bright lights, clean and modern interior and large windows showcasing a huge selection of cakes and pastries.
Despite the early hour, the cafe was already fairly busy. We sat at a table in the warm dining area and perused the breakfast menu. It included omelettes, burek, yoghurt and continental breakfasts with cold meat and slices of cheese.
We both ordered the same - burek (5 TL / £2) and Turkish tea (2 TL / £0.80).
We had become addicted to burek during trips to Macedonia and Montenegro the previous year, so it was good to start the day with this familiar pastry. The burek at Murat Muhallebicisi was served on a large plate; half of the plate contained flaky pastry filled with minced meat, spices and raisins and the other half contained flaky pastry filled with melted white cheese. It was delicious, and not too greasy.
The Turkish tea, as always, was strong and served in glasses with cubes of sugar to add according to taste.
When we came to settle the bill (a very reasonable 14 TL / £5.60), we were each given another complimentary glass of Turkish tea.
Delicious burek and Turkish tea a short walk from Kadiköy ferry terminal. Recommended!
Written Feb 27, 2013
Address: Recaizade Sok. No: 2/2, Kadıköy, Istanbul
Phone: 0(216) 338 3737
We had our company gathering in Ünlüer Gurme recently. The service was fast and the available options for brunch were a lot. The warm appetizers, omlettes and cheese types were good enough for me to enjoy the brunch. The location is just near seaside and there is playground for kids both indoors and outdoors so that makes it a preferred place for families with children. Brunch is from 10:00 to 13:00 on Sundays.
Favorite Dish: The brunch table has so many variety...
Written Jan 15, 2013
Address: Dr. Sadik Ahmet Bulvari, No:2 Sahilyolu - Maltepe
Phone: +90 216 459 67 96
This is the best döner I have tried in Istanbul so far. Luckily I discovered this restaurant due to its near location to my office. It was a big surprise for me that I haven't heard about this place before, but now I have become a voluntary ambassador to promote here in VT. Most of you know döner kebab so I won't describe that again. This place serves döner kebab in freshly made lavash with some side dishes such as french fries, salad and pickles. The service is very fast and the place is so crowded that you may need to wait for a table to be free. The portions are enough to get your stomach full. Bayramoglu Döner has no branch so you have to come here if you want to experience this delicious feast. I strongly suggest this place and my satisfaction rate is "A Great Experience".
Favorite Dish: You don't have any alternative : Only Döner
Written Jan 15, 2013
Address: Cumhuriyet Caddesi No.2, Rüzgarlibahce, Kavacýk
Phone: +90 216 413 00 45
Develi Kebap has been celebrating its history of a century this year. So I used this chance to introduce this famous kebab restaurant to all VT members. This restaurant is well-known for its tasty kebabs and expensive prices. However, this is a place where it's worth every penny you spend. With the popularity, Develi has 7 branches in total and through the website link you can find one closer to your location. I tried Samatya branch with my friends and we had a great feast. The appetizers and kebabs were simply mouth watering. The service is fast and the environment is elegant.
Favorite Dish: Ali Nazik Kebab, Pistacchio Kebab
Written Jan 14, 2013
Address: Gümüsyüzük sokak No:7 Samatya
Phone: +90 212 529 08 33
I had high expectations when I decided to try Burger Box in Moda. I had given up eating in McDonalds or Burger King long time ago and I was hoping to enjoy the real burger taste again. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the mediocre burgers in Burger Box. I tried a classical cheese burger and a ruccola burger to have a variety. The burgers were ok, but not impressive. Considering the prices of the burgers, it wasn't satisfactory. On the other hand, I enjoyed the cosy decoration of the place and the service was nice. My overall rating will fail Burger Box...
Edit : My rating was bad about this place and it closed out after a while.
Favorite Dish: The ruccola burger
Updated Jan 14, 2013
Address: Moda Cad. No:145/B Kadiköy
Phone: +90 216 449 84 84
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