Want to explore the more unusual side of Turkish cuisinein Istanbul? Then you want to take a ferryboat cruiseacross the Bosphorus to Kadıköy for a meal at Çiya Sofrası ("The Çiya Dinner Table").
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").
Take the ferry from Eminönü or Karaköy (map) to Kadıköy, then follow this map to find Çiya.
Caferağa Mah. Güneşlibahçe Sokak No. 43 (map)
Kadıköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 (216) 330 3190
Fax: +90 (216) 349 1902
—by Tom Brosnahan