Istanbul Restaurants: Tom's Favorites

Comments and recommendations for Istanbul restaurants

Moderator: sinan

turkeytom
Site Admin
Posts: 1527
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:20 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Boston & Istanbul
Contact:

Körfez & Kumkapi

Post by turkeytom » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:54 pm

Wendy,

Körfez ("Gulf") is a well-established restaurant on the Asian shore, as you indicate. I've heard about it since it opened, but I have yet to dine there so my info is second-hand. They used to have motorboats to ferry diners across from the European shore. I assume it's good, and it's probably pretty expensive by Turkish standards, which is still cheap (or at least moderate) by US or European standards.

Kumkapi is an old Greek and Armenian fishermen's district on the Sea of Marmara due south of the Grand Bazaar. You can reach it by banliyö train from the Sirkeci or Cankurtaran stations (get off at the Kumkapi station); or by taxi (US$5 or less).

A small square where six streets meet is surrounded by seafood restaurants, and restaurants line many of the streets radiating from the square. In good weather (ie, after April and before November) tables are set outside, and every night is a lively, sometimes boisterous and joyous dining scene with smiling customers, scurrying waiters and itinerant peddlars and entertainers.

It can be lots of fun, but there is a longstanding and intractable problem of cheating on the restaurant bills. Dodges include: bringing you items you never ordered and charging for them; charging for items you never ordered and never received; overcharging for items (especially fish); recommending the most expensive items (such as out-of-season fish); faulty addition (always in the restaurant's favor), etc.

A true Turkish dinner with lots of friends inevitably results in a l-o-n-g bill scribbled in cryptic Waiter Runic that lends itself handily to cheating. Stories abound of foreign visitors being presented with US$200 bills for meals that would've cost a Turk $40.

That having been said, there have been efforts to clear up the problem, as some restaurateurs have come to realize that cheating pays in the short run but not the long.

While I recommend that foreigners go to Kumkapi with a Turkish friend who is more in touch with local customs and prices, I realize that this is not always possible. If it's not possible for you, I'd take these steps:

1. Ask at your hotel for a restaurant recommendation and, if possible, have a hotel staffer write a note on the back of the hotel's card to the restaurant staff--just so the restaurant knows some local (upon which the restaurant's prosperity may in part depend) is watching. Presumably the restaurateur will want to keep you happy and treat you well so that your report to the hotel staff is good and brings more customers.

2. Take your time ordering, especially the fish, and be sure to ask mevsimli mi? ("Is it in season?") Someone in the restaurant will speak English so the Turkish word may not even be necessary, but the point is to order a fish that is plentiful and in season, not something that is a seasonal rarity and therefor especially expensive. (Fish is more expensive than meat in any case--perhaps 100% to 150% more expensive.)

3. Check prices on a menu/price list, and if there is no menu/price list (which is possible, as they are not used nearly so much in Turkey as in Europe and the USA), be sure to ask the price of each item. This is tedious, but the possibility of cheating may make it necessary. I myself would write my own 'ghost bill,' noting the items ordered and the quoted prices, and do my own tally. By doing it, I could be pretty well assured that it would not be necessary, because the owner, seeing my resolution to avoid cheating, would not bother to do so.

4. Notice what is brought to your table and question any items that you did not specifically order. If you want them, ask the price and agree to keep them. If you don't, have them taken away immediately, untouched.

5. Bring a calculator and add up the bill yourself, taking your time and questioning any items you can't read or otherwise don't understand. Keep in mind that it is the duty of any establishment to provide any customer with clear and comprehensible information on any item(s) being purchased. They owe it to you to do this; you don't owe them anything but payment for items and service received. They're supposed to make the accounting clear, accurate and easy.

I'm sure there are plenty of Kumkapi restaurants where all this is not necessary, where the service is good and honest and the fish first-rate, and I wish I could tell you which ones they are, but I don't dine there often enough to stay up-to-date. In all probability you'll have a fine dinner at a decent price, but do be active in the defense of your interests. The more active you are, the more pleasant (and inexpensive) your evening is liable to be.

Tom Brosnahan


Guest

Typical dinner hour in Turkey?

Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2004 7:27 pm

Thanks for the update on Kumpaki, Tom. I know you've said that dinner typically goes on for hours in Istanbul, but what't the typical dinner hour? Is it late like some other parts of the Mediterranean?

Thanks,
Wendy

turkeytom
Site Admin
Posts: 1527
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:20 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Boston & Istanbul
Contact:

Istanbul Dinner Hour

Post by turkeytom » Mon May 03, 2004 1:13 am

Wendy,

Restaurants tend to be open pretty much all the time (unlike, say, France), but Turks tend to sit down to dinner from 7:30 to 8:30 pm (19:30 to 20:30). Four-hour dinners are the norm, with lots of jolly conversation and good cheer. Nothing wrong with sitting down at 9 or 10 pm, but 10 would be a late seating.

Tom Brosnahan

turkeytom
Site Admin
Posts: 1527
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:20 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Boston & Istanbul
Contact:

Could Be Better...

Post by turkeytom » Wed May 05, 2004 7:28 pm

"DEAR SIR,

"PLEASE BE INFORMED THAT YOUR RESTAURANTS LIST FOR ISTANBUL IS VERY POOR. 

"RASIM B~"

[Tom:] Dear Rasim,

Yes! You're right! It will be improved as soon as possible.

With almost 1700 pages on the website, it takes a bit of time to get everything the way I want it.

Thanks again for your message.

Best regards,

Tom Brosnahan,

ChrisWinston
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 3:14 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Fairbanks, U.S. Territory of Alaska

Wendy's nerede?

Post by ChrisWinston » Mon May 10, 2004 6:14 pm

So, there's Burger King and Mickey D's but is there a Wendy's in Istanbul?
***if i could think right now of something snappy or something important for my signature it would go here***

turkeytom
Site Admin
Posts: 1527
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:20 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Boston & Istanbul
Contact:

Wendy's in Istanbul

Post by turkeytom » Mon May 10, 2004 8:33 pm

I haven't seen a Wendy's yet, but it can't be long before one pops up.

Wendy's is where I'd go for burgers if I were still eating burgers, but I'm off of beef. Call me paranoid, but I think mad cow disease is here to stay, everywhere, so long as the beef industry follows current practices.

Besides, the meat to eat in Turkey is lamb, lamb, lamb! See these pages:

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/Trav ... ebaps.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/Trav ... Kebap.html

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/Trav ... Kebap.html

Chicken döner and shish kebap are excellent. Then there's the fish....

Tom Brosnahan

Tom Brosnahan

zeynep

Istanbul Restaurants - Tom'sFavorites

Post by zeynep » Mon May 10, 2004 9:58 pm

There used to be a Wendy's, on the Asian side (Kadikoy/Altiyol), but it closed.. Besides McDonald's and Burger King, Pizza Hut is also quite popular. There are also a few Starbuck's, Dunkin' Donuts, and TGIF restaurants, but these are usually located in non-touristy areas, such as in Etiler (up in the hills of the European side) or Bagdat Caddesi, on the Asian side. There are also local versions of fast-food chains, such as the Sultanahmet Koftecisi, which you'll find in the food courts of shopping centers. Trust me, you won't have trouble finding food that satisfies you in Turkey.

zeynep

Istanbul Restaurants

Post by zeynep » Mon May 10, 2004 11:07 pm

I'd like to add a few recommendations for restaurants in Istanbul. I'll call this category "Memorable Meals" or "Special Event Meal". If I could only eat at one restaurant in Istanbul, it would be Beyti. It is out of the way (in a residential district in Florya, near the airport), but well worth the trip. Beyti is a top-notch restaurant, specializing in kebaps, and Istanbul families have been going there for generations. The original owner, Mr. Beyti, still oversees operations. They grow their own lamb. My stomach doesn't tolerate meat well, and I never get sick there. The restaurant is two floors. If the weather is nice, you can eat outdoors. When you walk in, you'll see all the pictures of the dignitaries who have visited. Don't panic, it's not too expensive, but it's not a budget meal either. It is a really nice dining experience. You'll probably have to take a taxi from your hotel, or you could take the train, and then got off at Yesilkoy?? or Florya and then take a taxi from there.

Another restaurant that is supposed to have authentic "Ottoman" cuisine is Asitane, near the Byzantine church on the outskirts of town (Kariye - St. Chorea??). I have not been there, but I have heard gourmets recommend it.

At the Grand Bazaar, at the entrance of the Spice Market, is Pandelli (second floor, you have to climb some steep stairs). Superb selection of authentic Turkish food, but the waiters will keep bringing you stuff suggestively, so be firm but polite when you're full. Really good quality food.

Finally, a trip to Istanbul would not be complete without a meal on the Bosphorus.. These tend to be a bit pricey, but again, it is an experience of a lifetime to be able to sit right on the water and enjoy a leisurely seafood lunch or dinner. I recommend some of the restaurants in Bebek, like Poseidon or Les Ambassedeurs.

turkeytom
Site Admin
Posts: 1527
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:20 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Boston & Istanbul
Contact:

Excellent Suggestions!

Post by turkeytom » Tue May 11, 2004 3:56 pm

Zeynep,

Very good recommendations. Beyti truly is superb, very high class but moderately priced. Excellent service.

I haven't been to Pandeli for awhile. Its situation--in lavishly tiled rooms above the main portal into the Misir Çarsisi (Egyptian Bazaar) in Eminönü--is unique, and I've enjoyed the food whenever I've been there. But the founder long ago went to that Great Mutfak in the Sky, and the current management seems particularly mercenary. (One reader of my Lonely Planet guide complained that guests even had to pay a boy to hang their coats on a hook!)

Asitane, I believe, is in the Kariye Oteli next to the Kariye Müzesi (formerly the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora--it's the one with the marvelous Byzantine mosaics, out near Edirnekapi and Tekfur Sarayi). The hotel was founded by the late Çelik Gülersoy and the Turkish Touring and Automobile Association, but I think it is now under different management. Problem is, it's quite a way to go for a meal. I'd plan to combine it with a visit to the neighboring church/museum (which is closed Wednesday). Here's the page:

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/Wher ... uzesi.html

Tom Brosnahan

Rauf
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:14 pm
How many stars? **: 0
Location: Istanbul

Post by Rauf » Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:28 pm

I have not read anyone on this forum about Kaşıbeyaz in istanbul Florya.
I have been eating there for at least 4 years and it's a great place and really huge.

there is a meat and fish restaurant but you can't order fish at the meat rest. and the opposite. (unless you eat there a few times a week, then evrythings possible but you ought to know how Turkish business works by now ;) )

anyways,
The food is great and the service is superb for a low price (altough the "elite" eat there) you might spot top players from f.c. galatasaray etc.

we had a table for four and i remember paying about 85 million
and that's about 60$ (rough est.)

(it is possible to eat outside when the weather permits it ;))

you will hear a plane land every few minutes tho becouse it's very close to the landing platform of the Istanbul Airport

address: çatal sokak no:10
florya
tel: (+90)(0(212)) 663 28 90


Post Reply