Panda Peeks – Turkish Café Istanbul
Do you have a bucket list of countries you want to visit? For me, Turkey has been on top of the list for the longest time ever. There was even a time where I was trying to save money to visit the beautiful country, but of course life happened and that plan has been shelved – for the time being. The only consolation I have? The existence of Turkish cuisine in Malaysia.
Turkish Café Istanbul showed me that Turkish food is a nice amalgamation of Mediterranean ingredients and Middle-East flavours. Of course, Turkish food has a cleaner palate, because of the abundance of vegetables used in the cooking and also the choice of oil preferred by the locals – olive oil or Turkish butter, nothing less!
We tried the Grilled Mix, which featured chicken kebab, chicken adana kebab (a spicier version of the original kebab), lamb adana kebab, and kofte, which are beef and lamb meatballs. They came with sides of rice, chips and cucumber salad. The first thing that hit us – the spiciness! I always assumed Turkish food would be mild on the tongue but this Grilled Mix definitely dispelled all notions of that.
Of course, Deniz Alkoch, who is the owner of Turkish Café, was quick to point out that all the spices are fully imported to maintain the authenticity of the flavours. He also let us in on a secret – he keeps his chicken kebabs tender and moist by using only meat from the drumsticks and breast. We could definitely taste the tenderness!
Next up, we tried the Lahmacun – which looks like pizza but definitely doesn’t taste like any other ordinary pizza! It is a traditional Turkish pizza, which incorporates a lot of vegetables, some meat – which is usually a mix of beef and lamb, and a tinge of zest thanks to the lemon juice sprinkled on the vegetables. The crispiness of the base was a perfect complement to the fresh toppings and we loved the flavours!
We also tried Pide, which is a different kind of pizza – but we love pizza any way it comes! Pide had a more conventional crust, thicker and chewier, and it had cheese, which was enough to make us tear in joy. Covered in capsicum and marinated meat, this one was a closer cousin to the pizzas we’re used to, so it would definitely be a crowd pleaser!
Deniz also poured me a cup of Turkish coffee, which I had heard lots about. When I reached out for the sugar, he looked like he was in shock. “No sugar!” he said, and I reluctantly withdrew my hand and took a sip of the concoction. One word: STRONG. I am a coffee snob, and can go without sugar in my cappuccino, but this cuppa was out of this world. Definitely not for the faint-of-heart, and I mean it!
Fruit teas are big in Turkey, and we had the privilege of trying some of the fruit teas Turkish Café had to offer. There was pomegranate tea, which was surprisingly sour yet refreshing, like a wake-me-up kind of tea. We also sampled apple tea, which had a very strong apple taste – kind of like apple cider without the alcohol or gas.
When I left Turkish Café that day, I had mixed emotions in me – a strong sense of longing to visit the country and a wash of comfort in knowing that even if I don’t go there soon, at least I have somewhere to go to experience a little bit of Turkey!
Turkish Café Istanbul
Address: No. 12, Jalan Wan Kadir 1, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Mon-Thur 1100-2300 Fri 1430-2300 Sat 0900-2300 Sun 0900-2300
Follow this link to order online
If she’s not busy writing, Yogeetha is usually researching fan theories about Game of Thrones characters or having a cup of coffee in solitude. Also, she loves doughnuts as much as she loves puppies!