Touring Istanbul can really work up a hunger and the city offers every cuisine imaginable to whet your appetite.
In Istanbul you can find every cuisine imaginable – the Carrefour branch in Cihangir sells takeaway packs of sushi; BLT sandwiches are on the menu of every self respecting bar/cafe; www.yemeksepeti.com delivers a huge range of takeaways to your door (even if that door is up five flights of stairs) and you can find restaurants offering everything from Korean to Californian food and back again.
But, for this writer, the best thing about Istanbul is finding unusual Turkish food, and the best place to do so is one of the three Çiya restaurants in Kadiköy.
To get there take the ferry from Karaköy or Eminonu across to Kadiköy (cost 1.50TL one way) get off the ferry, cross the main road, turn right into Kadiköy’s fish market area and just ask anyone for ‘Çiya’.
It is all of three minutes walk from the ferry terminal.
Çiya is owned and run by a Gaziantep native called Musa Dağdeviren who now has an international reputation for his cuisine – he was recently invited to California to deliver a cooking master class.
And he deserves his success. When not supervising the kitchens in his three establishments (almost adjacent to each other) he is travelling around Turkey seeking new recipes – and finding them.
One of our party ate lamb with quince, served in a rich gravy; another had onion kebab: tasty pieces of lamb served with mounds of whole shallots cooked in a sauce that contained essence of pomegranate and mint, along with other flavours we failed to identify; the third eater opted for potato kebab which was succulent köfte served with mini baked potatoes, salad and a tasty tomato-based sauce for dipping.
For pudding we tried sweet aubergine with kaymak which defies description but was delicious.
We also had a couple of starters, drank ayran, water, tea and Turkish coffee and the bill for three was 75TL.
Food at Çiya is not only unusual and delectable but very good value – make sure you eat there on your next trip to Istanbul.