How do you write about a city such as Istanbul? A city with so many amazing sites, smells and sounds; a city which has been central to great empires, each of which has left its mark which you can still see today, including the Celts with the often seen red head Turk; a city of more than 12 million people across two continents. We are not sure that you can. So instead we just want to write about one sokagi – Tellalzade, in Kadikoy.
After the day exploring Kadikoy, riding our bikes from Europe to Asia (via the ferry), navigating our way out to Kadikoy markets in Hasanpasa and wandering the many winding cobblestone streets we returned to a little bar on Tellalzade Sokagi. This street had caught our eye earlier in the day as it was the street of antique stores, including Antik Technic selling beautiful antique audio equipment. If you want to buy something in Turkey you need to find the correct street and once you have the whole street will be filled with stores just selling that one thing. During our adventures in Istanbul, we walked down light street (actually in this area it was street after street just selling lights), exhaust fan street, music shop street, scarf street…. It must make shopping easy once you know where that street is.
The majority of ‘Stanbullers live on the Asian side commuting across to Europe to work on the many ferries that cross the Bosphorus. In the streets down by the ferry terminal in Kadikoy there are many restaurants, cafés and a couple of bars which become very busy as everyone returns after work to eat, drink and socialise before walking up the hill home. Chay (tea) drinking and backgammon are serious business in Turkey. As Rob pointed out although Istanbul is a big, bustling city, it still feels relaxed because people take time out to stop and drink a Chay (many times a day), perhaps this is a good example of how the east and west come together in Istanbul. One of the things we love the most in Istanbul is the mobile Chay men, who deliver Chay to the store owners and market traders on silver trays so that the shop keepers can carry on their business without missing out on that important cup of tea. Of course Tellalzade Sokagi was no different, with one gentleman going up and down the street delivering fresh Chay and collecting the used glasses.
While we sat on Tellalzade we were entertained by those around us playing backgammon and the crowds they drew, the old men who owned the antique stores sitting out on the street watching the world go by and the life and energy this little street had.
Of course we also enjoyed some delicious food while we were in Kadikoy.
Guneslibache ask, No. 43A
Ciya actually has three restaurants on this street, Sofrasi is a self service restaurant with food from across Turkey but particularly the east. It is written up in lots of guide books but there were also lots of locals there because the food is just so delicious. The cold Mezze had dishes with so many different flavours that we are not sure we can describe them. However, the dolma are the best we have ever eaten. The selection of hot dishes was amazing with so many new dishes and ingredients and unfortunately not enough space in our stomachs to taste them. We didn’t get to try the baby goat or the meatballs with sour cherries. We did however really enjoye the artichokes stuffed with rice (they had walked past us while we were eating the cold mezze) and aubergine with lamb.
Serasker Sokak 78, Kadikoy
Lahmacun! According to Istanbul Eats, this is one of the five best places to eat lahmacun in Istanbul. We didn’t get a chance to eat at any of the others, but we did eat at Borsam Tasfirin twice, in one day. Lahmacun is a Turkish type of pizza with ground meat. At Borsam Tasfirin it arrives on a round wooden plate and on the table are big tupperware containers of parsley and lemon. You pick as many parsley leaves as you want (i.e. lots) and place them in the middle, give a good squeeze of lemon and (again lots) of chilli flakes. The lahmacun is then rolled up, looking at the locals some did it tightly others not so, and then eat this beautifully thin crispy pizza with the refreshing flavour of the parsley spiced up with the chilli. As I said it was so delicious we had to go back later in the evening.
Muvakkathane Cad. No:24/C, Kadikoy
We have eaten a fair amount of baklava in our time and Istanbul wasn’t any different. We tried from shops that claimed to be the oldest and the best, but generally found them to be a little on the sweet side for our liking or a little soggy. Whilst eating our lahmacun as above we stared across at this little baklava shop that was doing a brisk trade. On leaving we decided to pick up a few pieces to have at home as a night cap. If only we had gotten more. It was delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness, and the pastry was flakey and crunchy. It is worth a trip on the ferry to Kadikoy alone.