Food Trip in Istanbul, Turkey: A Savory Journey with Istanbulite @istanbulitecom

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor February 22nd, 2016 Posted in Destination, Restaurant and Recipes, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 21 Comments

Turkish cuisine is highly anticipated when you visit Istanbul. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to experience it’s diverse and rich flavors? There are more savory, sweet and unique dishes to explore other than the popular Turkish Delights and Doner kebabs.

Our experienced guide Eda of Istanbulite, a private travel specialist, walked us through the popular, narrow and unexplored streets of the city for our savory journey, following the footsteps of award-winning Australian chef Shane Delia’s food tour in Istanbul. Shane Delia owns a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia and was in Istanbul to shoot Spice Journey where he tasted Turkish food all over Turkey and Eda was his guide to Episode 10: Secret Flavors of Istanbul.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Cooking Kebabs inside Zübeyir Ocakbaşı

Looking back at this experience and while writing the story and reading it makes me hungry. We started in the late afternoon and shortly after walking passed by the famous Taksim square, we arrived at Zübeyir Ocakbaşı, our first stop. This place is popular for its delicious Sebzeli Kebap (kebab with vegetables) which we had for our main. It has a very friendly ambiance and the staff are very welcoming and attentive to your needs. You can see inside how the kebabs are being grilled and cooked to perfection. While waiting for our main dish, we had  Acılı köz patlıcan as a starter. It’s a grilled eggplant served warm with awesome flavors to wake up your pallet. Perfect match for our yoghurt drink called Ayran (yoghurt mixed with water and added with salt). The mains and starters were served with different types of bread. The kebab is very tasty and exploding in flavors, it was a good introduction to Turkish cuisine.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Acılı köz patlıcan (Grilled Eggplant)
A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Sebzeli Kebap (Kebab with Vegetables)

After our delicious meal, we walked through Balık Pazarı, a Fish Market in Galatasaray  to our next stop to beat the cold weather with a hot Turkish coffee. Thanks to Eda for being flexible towards us, we made a detour as we passed by some interesting street foods. We are feeling adventurous so we tried  tried kokoreç, made from intestines of a lamb. It’s served with bread like a sandwich, very exotic and delicious. We also tried the fried mussels and midye dolma, mussels stuffed with rice and spices. It’s very aromatic and a squeeze of lemon makes a refreshing taste of it.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
midye dolma

Satisfied our little cravings and within a short distance, we arrived at Mandabatmaz Cafe where we had our Turksish coffee. Manda means ‘buffalo’ in Turkish and Batmaz literally means ‘does not sink’.  Interesting, the name of the place is coming from the saying, “the bubble of the Turkish coffee was so thick that even a buffalo would not sink on it”. This place is serving coffee since 1967. It’s a small shop with several tables and small stools outside along the alley, frequented by locals of different ages. We love how the coffee is being prepared traditionally using a small copper pot heated over a stove. The coffee is really good and we bought some packs to bring back home.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Cemil Pilik is serving coffee here since 1967

Our next stop is at Asri Turşucu, a pickle shop since 1938. The place is full of jars with different pickles, the dates were displayed and they have oldest pickles from the 1960’s that were just on display and cannot be consumed. Here, we had a turşu suyu, pickled juice made of cucumber and beetroot which has been pickled with vinegar. They said it’s good for digestion and hangovers. It has a strong sour taste and I felt a bit hungry again after finishing my glass.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Different kinds of pickles sold in this shop.

The last stop of course is for dessert at Özkonak Muhallebicisi, this place started in the 1960’s as a dessert place for Muhallebi, a Turkish dessert.  But since we can’t get enough of Turkish food we also had Turkish ravioli or locally known as Mantı in this place. It is small dumplings filled with groundbeef and is served with yoghurt and tomato sauce with some garlic. It’s delicious and heavy so we are just ready to try our dessert, Kazandibi, famous in this place. Kazan means ‘pot’ in Turkish and dibi means ‘the bottom of’.  It literally means, “the bottom of the pot” where this dish is taken from for its caramelized texture. It is cooked with milk, rice pudding, sugar and tiny, thin pieces of boiled chicken more of like a floss.  It’s creamy and sweet, a perfect ending to our Turkish culinary journey.

A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Mantı (Turkish Ravioli)
A Savory Journey in Istanbul
Our dessert: Kazandibi

We had a fantastic time with Eda, though we did a shorter version of the tour, the experience is very unique and authentic. If you want to do this trip, you can checkout the full itinerary here.

Monkey DividersAbout the Writer

Jaypee LicudanJaypee Licudan is a Filipino Expat based in Singapore. He’s a traveller and writer for Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog and has been to over 30 countries across 4 continents. He’s major long term goal is to go back to the Philippines for a long time travel to discover the hidden gems of his home country. Follow his personal blog: The Rustic Nomad

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A Savory Journey in Istanbul

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21 thoughts on “Food Trip in Istanbul, Turkey: A Savory Journey with Istanbulite @istanbulitecom

  1. Hi malaking hindrance ba kung di ako marunong mag drive tapos pursue ko mag travel? I have a valid US 10 year visa pero parang di ko masulit since di ako marunong mag drive sobrang limited lang ng kaya kong puntahan. di rin ako physically fit. lol

  2. It’s so nice to travel to Istanbul through your blog, learn all about those food, and the dessert, yum!

  3. I would love to get my hands on their Sebzeli Kebap, midye dolma, and turkish coffee. I wonder how they prepare the midye dolma. It’s kinda time consuming to separate the musssel meat from its shell, then stuffed each meat w/ rice and other spices.

  4. The different kind of pickles got me interested and I wanna taste each one. The mashed grilled eggplant looks like something my granda prepares for sidedish. I’m not sure if there’s a restaurant in the Philippines serving Turkish cuisine. It’s worth a try if there’s any.

    1. We love pickles! I think there are some fusion restaurants serving Turkish cuisine. But nothing beats the authentic. Plan your visit to Turkey. 🙂

  5. I’m not a big fan of eating anything I’m not familiar with but those dishes look good and maybe worth a try. Hehe. I hope I get to try the Sebzeli Kebap and Kazandibi. 🙂

  6. The food looks so alien to me that if I get the opportunity, I am gonna try. 🙂 Kebabs is the first thing I am ordering!

  7. Great post! I’ve actually never tried Turkish food before except for their famous sweet treat, Turkish Delight! I hope I get to visit Turkey soon 🙂

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