Çiya Sofrası, Istanbul

Before I embarked on this trip, already my friend has asked me what I wanted to eat. My answer was simple – anything she thought I should try, specifically Turkish food. So for dinner on my first day, we headed for Çiya Sofrası in the balık pazarı , or fish market district at Kadıköy. Walking the streets was interesting as it showed me the market scene of Turkey.

It was raining a bit so we didn’t really get to linger. Our destination was Çiya Sofrası, a restaurant known for serving Anatolian cuisine from different provinces of Turkey. I reckon that this was a good place to start as it did introduce the flavours and taste that I would be enjoying through the turkish leg of my trip!

Çiya Sofrası displays the many dishes of the day cafeteria style, behind a glass panel. Reminded me of our own nasi kandar joints. The only thing about having cooked dishes on the constant low heat is that the dishes are prone to overcooking. I was lucky to have a local order for me, but fear not, they do have English translations of their menu.

Thanks to the rain and wind, it was getting rather cold. So to warm ourselves up, we started with ezo gelin, a delightful, heartwarming lentil soup with mint and red pepper. It’s really quite a simple yet earthy tasting soup that was great with the bread.

My friend’s favourite is the içli köfte which is described as bulgar wheat encased meatballs. It looks more like croquettes to me, but has a harder, crunchier shell. Actually this is one of those addictive snacks where you won’t know when to stop.

We also had lahana sarmasi, stuffed cabbage with minced beef, onions and spices. Lahana is Turkish for cabbage whilst sarmasi translates to “wrapping” so this is somewhat similar to chinese cabbage wraps or rolls. Apart from ground meat fillings, other versions also has rice fillings.

For a taste of the south, from Urfa, we had pazi borani, a medley of swiss chard, chickpeas & black eyed peas with yogurt. The Turks love to serve a dollop of yoghurt with their greens from what I noticed. I don’t mind coz I really love the yoghurt in Turkey. So yummy!

Another wonderful dish that I’m itching to cook at home is diyarbakir güveç, a savoury stew of lamb, cooked with eggplants and tomatoes. Güveç is the clay or earthenware pot that cooks the meat and vegetables slowly, bringing out all the flavours that gives this stew its heady aroma. Very satisfying.

We also had lahmacun another form of Turkish flatbread pizza with minced meat, red peppers and parsley. The bread base is so thin it’s almost like eating baked tortilla with a meat spread. We just helped ourselves by tearing at it and rolling it up and stuffing it into our mouths. So good!

The Turks love their sweets (think baklava, lokum and sweet çay and you’ll know what I mean) so it’s only right we ended the meal with a dessert. Kerebiç was our choice, a semolina flour ball filled with pistachio bits. It is served with a foam that is purportedly to aid digestion and dusted with cinnamon powder. Yes, it was sweet and crumbly but the foam balanced that a bit. It’s nice but not really my thing due to the sugar level. Lucky we had the complimentary kekik (wild oregano) tea to wash it down. Hehe.

Overall it was a delightful dinner discovering the taste of Turkey, so to speak.

Çiya Sofrası (www)
Caferağa Mah. Güneşlibahçe Sokak No. 43
Kadıköy, Istanbul,

other reviews;
ozlem’s turkish table
opining, whining & dining
new york times


1 Comment »

  1. Zeytinyagli said

    Well, three of us who had nothing else in common to eat that day had dinner there and we all got food poisoning. Next day, when we called their management, the possibility of such a poisoning was categorically denied. Nice going, Çiya. Way to keep up your reputation.

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