Çiya: A gustatory adventure
The best place to enjoy Ottoman, Kurdish and Turkish dishes in Istanbul is Çiya on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in the Kadiköy neighborhood’s bazaar.
Actually there are three Çiya restaurants, all by the same proprietor. The oldest and most cozy to have a meal with friends is the Çiya Sofrası. The other two are on the opposite side of the street and are named ‘Çiya Kebab restaurant’ where they offer more than 65 kinds of kebap during the whole year.
It has been called ‘Istanbul’s Culinary Shrine’ and ‘the best restaurant in Istanbul’. Sure there are restaurants which are fancier or have a far better view. It is the food and the always changing selection of dishes that makes this a popular place for food lovers all over Istanbul.
Proprietor of this restaurant is Musa Dagdeviren, a Turkish Kurdish cook who is from the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. He traveled all over Turkey to discover old local recipes in remote villages from the times of the Ottoman Empire. He is a man with a mission: to discover and present what he calls ‘the forgotten farmers’ dishes from Anatolia’.
The New York Times hailed him as a ‘culinary Indiana Jones’ and a ‘Midas of fruits’ who transforms them ‘into golden juices and desserts like candied pumpkin slices’.
A visit to this cozy, informal eatery is really a gustatory adventure as you will have authentic regional dishes from all over Turkey and combinations of ingredients and tastes that you will not find in any other regular kebab house.
The menu is changing with the seasons and the best way to dive into all the unusual tastes is to go to the counter with a rich variety of salads and starters and just put some of all of it on your plate. For the main dishes you go to the cooks who are standing near their pots with prepared food and point to what looks interesting.
There are always different kind of soups, stews of lamb, eggplant dishes and a variety of rice and bulgur dishes. Leave some space for the deserts. Not your regular baklava, but delicious sweets from all kinds of citrus fruits; sweet tomatoes with almond, sesame, thick cream, lemon, sugar; pumpkin with sugar, lemon, tahini or walnut; green walnut shells processed with limestone; and even sweet olives.
Address: Güneşlibahçe Sokak 43
Plus: a variety of vegetarian dishes available
Minus: no alcohol and metal plates