It seems that eating out in a foreign country often turns into a kind of culinary russian roulette. Some establishments with inviting trendy decor and plush seating end up serving bland and expensive fare, while the hole-in-the-wall next door churns out a pastry you now can’t imagine your life without.
Luckily, this week another TIME traveler and I serendipitously stumbled into the best meal I’ve had abroad thus far — I’m talking lick your plate good eatin’. After a ferry ride to kadıköy, and following the necessary poking around in antique stores and fish markets, we decided it was time to find some sustenance. Having had a busy day already, the goal was to find a Lokanta or what we have come to call a ‘point and shoot’ restaurant, where you can motion toward your food of choice without being hampered by a language barrier. We found such a place, ‘Ciya’, nestled in a street of similar establishments, gave it a quick once over and entered.
The first tip off was the bread. While a basket of bread is customary when eating out, I knew immediately that this loaf was on a whole new level, a precedent that was set and matched by the cold dishes and bubbling stews laid out near the entrance. As I looked around, marveling at our good fortune, my eyes alighted on the magazine spreads that were practically wallpapering the dining room. It seemed that this unassuming lokanta had attracted some attention in the past from such prestigious publications as Food & Wine Magazine, and The New Yorker (click on the links to read the articles). Attention well-deserved in my opinion.
As I polished off my bowl of lamb and okra stew I couldn’t help but wonder at the good fortune that had led two travelers to the best meal I’ve had in Turkey so far. It just goes to show that every once in a while that gastronomical gamble can lead to a delicious payout.