I had a small cuisine tour for those who haven’t yet met this healthy cuisine, those who want to eat something different, or those who are already regular customers.
Pera Thai When it comes to authentic Thai cuisine in Istanbul, Pera Thai is the first that comes to my mind. It’s a peaceful and quiet restaurant with chic white clothed tables, authentic busts, walls decorated with pictures and its dim lit environment. One looks for original tastes in ethnic cuisines, and the food here is neither fusion nor stylized: they are from original Thai cuisine. Thai style noodle (Pad Thai) can be a good start for those who will meet this cuisine for the first time. Spices and sauces come from Thailand. Their curry which is prepared by mixing 15 different spices is quite different from the market curry as we know it. Therefore, please check the curry food section in the menu and comfortably order whichever you would like to. For those who are open to new tastes, I recommend baked duck with red curry and green pepper (28 TL). Steamed jasmine rice (6,5 TL) would be a good company. Coconuts, ginger, basil, curry, pineapple are the musts of this cuisine… It is also a plus that unlike many Far Eastern restaurants they do not use flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG)… You can have a perfect meal for an average of 50-70 TL in this restaurant. Address: Meşrutiyet Caddesi No: 134 Ph: +90 212 245 57 25 Fast Wok Fast Wok is a Chinese restaurant in the middle of Asmalımescit… It’s a clean, delicious and cheap fast-food restaurant for those who have a snack before going to the main venue, those who walk around Asmalı and then starve, or those who want to eat after enjoying a concert; it’s a small and cute place… Don’t pass it by if there are no seats available. Customers of this place order their food; they eat it in a bar, or even standing in front of the restaurant when they can’t find a seat. They also eliminated the smell problem with new air conditioning system, now it’s very sweet. What makes this place attractive is that they have a good balance of taste and price… Moreover, you can order your food in full or half, depending on how hungry you are. Many Chinese restaurants in Istanbul do not have this detail. Since everything is ordered for the table in this restaurant, you can order half portion from everything you want to taste and leave with a quite affordable bill. The most preferred options are shrimp tempura (12-19 TL), ginger crispy chicken (8-12 TL), noodles (6-10 TL), fried ice cream (4-7 TL). The prices of the food in the menu vary from 6 to 19 TL. Their ginger lemonade is very famous (7 TL). In fact they have Take-Away service for the area between the Boğaziçi Bridge and Fatih District. It’s a perfect alternative for lunch. Soon they will introduce sushi types. In many places, eating sushi is quite expensive. Fast Wok is planning to become the restaurant to sell sushi for the lowest prices in Istanbul, for the information of sushi lovers. The restaurant is open between 09:00 am and 01:00 am in weekdays, and until 03:00 am in the weekends. Address: Sofyalı Sokak 24, Asmalımescit Ph: +90 212 245 68 44
Tokyo Tokyo is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Istanbul… The place with 10 years of history is in its current location for 5 years. Tokyo makes a difference with its food as well as its ambience. The ground floor of the two storey restaurant has a modern design. In the upstairs, you find Tatami rooms where you can eat without being disturbed. While eating in peace and quiet, you can call the waiter by pushing the buzzer on the table. The place has 20% discount during the happy hours everyday between 03:00 pm and 05:00 pm. You must also try their set menus in the noon, they have very affordable prices. The sushi set (36 TL) includes offer of the day, 6 pieces of sushi, 6 pieces of maki sushi, Japanese pickles, miso soup and green tea. I love their spice sauce tuna (15 TL) Saketen (25 TL), unagi (24 TL) and shrimp tempura (41 TL). If you’re going there as a group, I recommend that you order the 36-piece Tokyo special sushi plate (153 TL). If you are away from Beyoğlu, the restaurant has order service as far as Sarıyer. Address: Istiklal Caddesi Meşelik Sokak No: 24 Beyoğlu Ph: +90 212 293 58 58
Cafe Bunka Café Bunka, which is located under Japanese Culture and Information centre, is a small and cute Japanese restaurant… Food, presentation and the ambience in Café Bunka gives a fully Japanese experience. Actually, everything is hidden in details. Plates and cups used in the service, teacups used in the tea ceremony were individually selected with care. In every detail of its internal architecture you can find traces of Japanese culture. There’s a Tatami room on the left from the entrance. There’s a small Zen garden in the middle, and an area with granite floor called Doma on the right, where you can enter with your shoes. It was first opened as a café, and when people started to ask for sushi, they increased their assortments. Sushi prices are quite acceptable; I especially recommend California party sushi from set menus (27 TL). Dragon roll (24 TL) and salmon tempura roll are my favorites. Other than nigiri, sashimi, maki, tempura, handmade sushi, you can also find hot Japanese meals and kinds of noodle if you’re not on good terms with sushi. Ginger fillet steak (15 TL), teriyaki chicken (13 TL) are the most preferred ones… Address: Istiklal Caddesi Fransız Konsolosluğu Arkası Ana çeşme Sok. No: 3 Beyoğlu Ph: +90 212 293 32 49
Çin Büfe When I discovered Çin Büfe back in 2005, I was very happy to have found a delicious as well as cheap Chinese restaurant. Since then, Çin Büfe has preserved its style. In the entrance you’ll meet the Chinese cooks who turn the wok on fire. Actually this is where the food is given a final touch, the actual kitchen is upstairs. Just on the right, there is a modern and comfortable area in a long hall, with red seated tables. Çin Büfe has a very rich menu. Soups are between 5,5 and 7,5 TL, starters are between 5,25 and 9,5 TL… Prices of specialities vary between 13 and 35 TL. Hot sour soup (11 TL), Beijin style veal (13 TL), shrimp noodles (9 TL), sweet sour sauce chicken (11 TL) and ginger sauced crispy chicken (11) are among those which are most preferred. Crispy chicken (6 TL) and duck wrap (6 TL) which are recently added to the menu are also worth a try. If you’re going as a group you can prefer fried Peking duck (35). In 2010 we’ll see mainly vegetable foods, good news for vegetarians. Address: Kuloğlu Mahallesi Turnacıbaşı Sokak No: 6 Ph: +90 212 251 87 02
Ninja Japanese Restaurant Ninja presents nearly three hundred sixty kinds of food with its comprehensive menu. They have a sushi bar in Nişantaşı Biber, with fewer assortments. The decoration of the place which is decorated by Japanese geisha dolls on every desk reflects Japanese culture. Original Tatami rooms are designed to appeal to upper class. Private rooms which can be used in group meals, parties and meetings present an environment for guests to relax in an isolated area. The restaurant, which we learn that it is the only Japanese restaurant approved by the ministry and the consulate does not use frozen products or products for long preservation. The products which come from Japan every two weeks are used fresh. The sushi which is prepared by four Japanese female cooks is perfect. The food which is cooked with special sauces invented by the cooks makes Ninja special. Soups are between 7 and 15 TL, appetizers between 9 and 24 TL and noodles are between 21-42 TL. Sushi price starts from 7 TL. You can leave the restaurant full for 25-30 TL. If you want a perfect meal the price can reach up to 70-80 TL. And Ninja Junior is on the way, though its location is not certain yet; either Bağdat Street or Bebek... Address: Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mah. Istiklal Cad. Meşelik Sok. No: 22 Ph: +90 212 251 58 21
Dragon Dragon, which is one of the oldest representatives of Chinese cuisine in Istanbul, is a place with a past of 24 years and the motto: “the best Chinese Restaurant in Istanbul”. The restaurant which is located in Hilton Hotel Istanbul has a fixed customer group made up of artists and business people. It is impossible to find a place without reservation. It’s completely full on the weekends. The restaurant which is decorated with the colors of black and red, Japanese lamps, jades, folding screens is ideal to celebrate your special days. We should also specify that the prices are not that high. You must try crispy duck with crepe, sweet sour sauce chicken, black soy sauce beef, rice with eggs and vegetables, sizzling shrimp and hot-sour soup. The restaurant serves lunch between 12:00 pm and 02:30 pm, and dinner between 06:30 pm and 11:30 pm. The place has a rich selection of wines, both domestic and foreign. You can eat for 35-40 TL per person, but if you want a perfect meal it can be as high as 110 TL. Address: Istanbul Hilton Oteli Sergi Binası Altı Elmadağ, Istanbul Ph: +90 212 231 62 00
Wagamama Worldwide brand of pan-Asian cuisine, Wagamama entered our lives a few years ago with their motto: “eat positive, live positive”. And that was a good thing. Their services, presentations and foods all make Wagamama a concept. It’s an institution which adopted the know-how of restaurant management and should become an example to many restaurants whether in their category or not. First of all, it has a quick, practical, young and energetic atmosphere. The place is decorated in a comfortable and modern style. Service staff is well trained, and can answer every question. Service is not hindered even in the most crowded periods, the bill doesn’t come late. The food which is marked on your service paper is served to you maximum in 10 minutes. As a Wagamama regular, I recommend you to start with chili prawn (16,5 TL), one of the side meals. You will come back to Wagamama in order to eat the prawn with tomato vinegar sauce. The sauce is the miracle. Noodle is the area of expertise of the spoiled boy Wagamama, so I definitely recommend you noodle. Yakisoba (17 TL) or teriyaki steak soba (24,5 TL) can be preferred. If you’re open to new things, watery noodle is a different experience. If you are in good terms with spicy tastes, you must try chili chicken ramen (18,5 TL). Remember to taste the sake as well. Green tea is served free of charge on request, keep that in mind. Wagamama is open everyday between 12:00 and 23:00. Address: Kanyon AVM Büyükdere Cad. No: 185 Levent Ph: +90 212 353 04 74
Go Mongo This is a Mongolian restaurant which works with the method of “choose your ingredients – let the chef cook it – then eat it”. The tastes which are said to be directly coming to your table straight from “Mongolian tents” are amazing. The best aspect is that you can choose the ingredients on your own. You choose meat, vegetables, sauces, spices as you prefer and as much as you prefer, deliver it to the chefs and your food is ready in 15 minutes with a perfect look and taste. My favorite is the mixture of chicken, small corn, garlic, beans, mushrooms, black pea sauce and satanay. My number one recommendation for you is Mongolian BBQ (26 TL limited – 39,5 TL unlimited); I also recommend you to try Ulanbatur (23 TL) and Garam Masala sauce steak (29,5 TL). The place is decorated simply, chic and comfortable. The terrace is also open in winter time; since it’s surrounded with glass and heated, smokers and those who want fresh air prefer the terrace also in winter period. Address: İstinye Park Ph: +90 212 345 58 88
Zuma World-famous Japanese restaurant Zuma, which is active under Istanbul Doors Group, is a popular place with its food, ambience and high quality. I recommend you not to go to this restaurant which you can prefer for your special days and celebrations without reservation. If you are going for the first time, I recommend the set menu Tadım Menu which includes some of the food in the menu. It is served for at least two people. If you would like to try new tastes which are added to the menu depending on the season, you should check “new food” section in the menu. I recommend swordfish tataki and Black Cod Gyoza. Your preference from Zuma specials can be fried soft-shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise and oven baked lobster. Regulars of the restaurant usually prefer crispy fried squid, sweet prawn tempura and yellow tail sashimi… The restaurant has a rich list of wines which includes both domestic and foreign wines. One person pays 160 to 190 TL on average. Address: Salhane Sokak No: 7 Ortaköy Ph: +90 212 236 22 96
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