May 222015
street food

typical Istanbul street food vendor

the food of istanbul has been at least as good as expected – which is great because we arrived with high expectations! i have posted lots of images on instagram but i figured some readers may not follow my instagram account so i better throw some foodie pics up for them! so apologies to those readers that have seen all the yummy food already.

eating out here is certainly very cheap, we do frequent the local street vendors, cafes and restaurants, but even the bigger, flasher restaurants are cheap by australian standards. its easy to get a simple lunch with a drink for $4-5 and not much more for a filling dinner. $15 per head will get you dinner and a drink of ayran in a comfortable restaurant with table service.

we have grown accustomed to the turkish national drink, a form of salted yoghurt drink, its called açik ayran and special machines foam it up to give it a frothy head when served in pewter bowls. its actually the perfect accompaniment to the meaty and spicy dishes so common here. the cheaper places just have the ayran in plastic cups like a small yoghurt container, but its still yummy!

we have also grown to love the turkish coffee and the many glasses of tea that are a part of any meal or conversation or opportunity!

anyway, i will let the images speak for themselves!

i realised i need to update with a few more images and words! so firstly dürümzade, reputably the best dürüm in the world, another place made famous by anthony bourdain – and another place in istanbul that doesnt trade on the attention and custom he has brought to the restaurant. it remains a tiny, corner shop, char grill in the window, about 3 tiny tables and a non stop production of one simple dish done really well! two dishes actually, i had a bowl of the mercimek çorbasi (lentil soup) and it too was to die for. the prices are the same as they have been for years, about $3.50 of our pesos gets you the worlds best dürüm.

dürüm is the name of the kebab wrap that is the perfect fast food in turkey, its made with a lavaş a tortilla like flat bread. the lavaş is heated on the charcoal and then the kebab of choice (we had lamb) is grilled, after one rotation of the kebab, out comes the lavaş, the grill master then drapes it over the kebabs cooking over the coals, creating a smoky tent for the meat while keeping the lavaş off of the fire directly.

as the lavaş heats up, the spice rub on the wrap imparts its flavor onto the skewered meat below. While the lavaş is still flexible, the usta (“master” in Turkish) pulls it from the grill and covers it with a bed of chopped parsley, sumac-dusted onions and tomatoes, onto which he lays the freshly grilled meat from the skewer.

no discussion of food in istanbul would be complete without a tip about the best place to eat lahmacun, the amazing dish made with flat bread spread with a paste of finely ground meat, spices and herbs baked to perfection in a wood fired oven, then served on a platter. the customer then adds a handful of fresh parsley and a big squeeze of lemon juice before rolling it up and eating a little bit of heaven, standard cost 4 TL or $2 aussie.

quite by accident sal and I stumbled upon borum taşfirin in kadiköy on the asia side. we went over on the ferry to have a wander round and after a few hours of aimless wandering we happened upon this little shop, again on a corner, it immediatley looked like our sort of joint, not at all touristy, packed with locals, a gaggle of yourng turks in a production line to roll out the dough, spread the secret topping mix and load them in and out of the wood fired oven. we have had lahmacun in many places around the city, but this one was the standout.


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