The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Turkish @ Istanbul, Tokyo

Many foodies would agree that some of the best dining experiences in the world can be had in Japan, and this is quite true, but it is no secret that the international cuisines are somewhat limitedly available here. With the exception of French, Italian, Indian and Korean cuisines (or a hybrid Japanised version of them) which are quite excellently represented in Japan, it would be hard to find restaurants that specialise in authentically prepared dishes from, say, Greece, any South-East Asian countries and Russia, just to name a few. Even Chinese food - though there are many Chinese restaurants and eateries around, it is a bit of a hit-and-miss game (mostly miss) to find a good one, even in a big city like Tokyo. We've had plenty of dining experiences in almost four years in Japan, but we've yet to eat any Middle-Eastern food. One of my sister's colleagues from Turkey brought her work mates to a Turkish restaurant in Shinjuku, Istanbul, and Honey gave a good report about the food, with the only complaint being that it was pretty pricey (~4000yen per person). Rob and I were overdue for a date, so two Sundays ago, we went to the restaurant branch in Ginza for a Turkish meal.

The restaurant is run by a Turkish lady with young Turkish waiters, who spoke only Turkish and Japanese, and we took this as a good sign. It's quite a nice restaurant, with separate areas suitable for a noisy group or an intimate meal, as well as bar seats. We ordered some Apple Tea, which was very apple-y, and Turkish Coffee, which packed a pretty strong punch for such a tiny cup.

To start with, we got a Kucuk Meze (a mixed appetisers plate of four different dips), and enjoyed Ekmek (Turkish pita bread) with Cerkez Tavuk (chicken and walnut dip), Humus (chickpeas and tahini dip), Acul Ezeme (an Anatolian spicy and herby vegetable paste) and Patlcan Tarama (fried eggplant and yogurt dip). They were all pretty nice, but we both liked the flavoursome red acul ezeme paste best. We also ordered Midye Dolmasi (mussels stuffed with pilaf) which was delicious.

For our mains, Rob ordered Beyti Kebab (ground lamb and beef kebab wrapped in lavash bread) and I got the Iskender Kebab (doner kebab with tomato sauce and yogurt). Apparently Iskender Kebab is a popular Turkish dish, but I have never had it before, and Rob thought it was something I ought to try. Both dishes were full of flavour and tasty.

We had two desserts: Incir Dolma (baked dried figs stuffed with walnuts and Turkish ice cream) and Cezerye (a truffle-like dessert made of carrot, ginger, coconut and cinammon). Both desserts were really good and not too rich, which is a fine way to finish a big meal. I favoured the stuffed fig whereas Rob preferred the truffles.

I had a good time, enjoying good Turkish food and lovely company with my wonderful hubby. We should really be going on dates more often while we still can.

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