Istanbul’s food was always good, but the choice was so limited. A new generation of chefs is changing all that, says Tina Walsh
……. “At Kantin, in Nisantasi, an upmarket district in the north of the city, the approach is “new Turkish cuisine”. So, it’s out with the kebabs (which originated in Persia, anyway) and in with fresh, local produce and a menu that changes every day. This is a good place to find vegetable dishes such as kabak sarma (thinly sliced stuffed courgettes), and the artichokes served here are among the best in Istanbul.
The café-restaurant (a modern version of the esnaf lokantasi or “lunchtime canteen”) closes at about 9pm and doesn’t serve alcohol (not for any religious reasons, just because it hasn’t got a licence), yet these factors don’t seem to dent its popularity. On the Monday lunchtime when I visited, it was packed with business people, fashionable young guns and ladies who lunch, Ray-Bans perched on their expensively coiffed heads.
Chef and owner Semse Denizsel learnt to cook at her mother’s knee. “The single biggest threat to Istanbul cuisine is Istanbullus forgetting their roots,” she says. “We must protect the food of everyday Istanbullus as though it were the food of the sultans. Even the peasant food here was refined.”“…….