Çiya is famous for its unusual vegetarian dishes from the region of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey. Located in a small, unassuming storefront in the middle of Kadıköy‘s appealing fish market district (map), Çiya has become a point of pilgrimage for Turkish foodies.
In fact, according to Istanbul friends, it has gotten very crowded and expensive.
For meat-eaters, two nearby Çiya Kebap restaurants supply ample southeastern grills.
The dishes at Çiya draw on the expected southeastern flavorings: garlic, parsley and hot pepper, but also çağla(unripened fruit, especially almonds, apricots or plums) and nar ekşisi (pomegranate pulp).
Although the roots of Çiya’s menu are in the southeast and eastern Mediterranean, spicy-hot dishes are not the norm. Rather, suble flavors predominate.
Çiya Sofrası is not a fancy place. Rather, it’s one of a variety of good, moderately-priced restaurants within Kadıköy‘s balık pazarı (fish market) on aptly-named Güneşlibahçe Sokak (“Street of the Sunny Garden”).
Outdoor tables on the pedestrian way in fair weather…
—by Tom Brosnahan