Chomping Around Town: Ciya Sofrasi (Istanbul)

**My Travel Hats is featuring its own Restaurant Week, in which a not-to-miss restaurant from around the world is showcased each day.**

ISTANBUL 256There’s an astronomical clock tower in Prague where statues of the Four Evils hang out:  Greed, Death, Vanity and the Turk. I suppose back in the day, the Turks and their Empire weren’t terribly popular, but if their food was anything like it is today, there’s good reason for the Czechs to be awfully jealous and resentful of the Turks.

But this is not about a restaurant in Prague. Sorry, I didn’t encounter any mind-blowing eating in Prague. We head south, to a more exotic land, where darvishes whirl and carpets fly: the land of Turkey; and more specifically, to a culinary treasure: Ciya Sofrasi.

This restaurant lies on the Asian side of Istanbul, and is far from a best-kept secret: many a Western publication has visited, reviewed and raved about it. And now you can see why. The restaurant’s purpose was to uncover ingredients and recipes lost in Turkish history, or to bring secrets from remote parts of Turkey to the great city and incorporates them into some of the most amazing dishes ever conceived. The restaurant sees its fair share of tourists enough to be patient while they try to read the all-Turkish menu. You won’t be finding the typical kebabs and whatnotbabs here. The waiters, in turn, will ask you to trust them as they bring out a selection of deliciousness, such as hummus and falafel and lamb and eggplant dips and fancy kebabs and soups and grain salads, accompanied with pita. The highlight is dessert: fruits, nuts and even tomatoes pumpkin candied into sugary bites with creme fraise. Even if it looks and sounds skeptical and strange, as I thought, it’s a worthy experience that, tragically, can’t be replicated anywhere in the U.S.

The restaurant is actually split into two locations across the street from each other, and require a ferry ride from the historic center. A absolute must visit. What really should be one of the Four Evils is Missing Dinner at Ciya.

Address: Caferaga Mah. Güneslibahce Sk. No:43 Kadiköy – Istanbul
Tel: (216) 330 31 90

Dress Code: Casual

Price: $6-$9 plates

Directions: ask your hotel. I can’t remember.

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Filed under Chomping Around Town, Europe

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