Güneslibahce Sk. 48/B
Kadiköy – Istanbul
From Lonely Planet:
“We’re going to go out on a limb here, and say that this is the best lokanta in the city. We love the simple modern interior and ever-friendly staff, and we adore the food – everything from the delicious self-service meze spread to the icli köfte (spicy meatballs rolled in bulgar and deep fried) to the plentiful vegetarian choices. Two dishes wowed us on a recent visit: a stew of fresh apricots, chestnuts and lamb; and katmer fıstık şeker hamun kaymak (sweet pistachio flaky pastry with clotted cream). Next-door Çiya Kebapçı is owned and run by the same people, and is just as impressive. If these places served alcohol, we’d move in permanently.”
Our visit to Çiya was an outing, indeed. It started with a ferry ride from the European side to the Asian side of Istanbul (and ended this way as well). The restaurant is located on a side street in the shopping district to your right when you exit the ferry. Our host said that she had to visit some 15 times before she could find it on her own. The restaurant is split into two opposing buildings, both serve the same menu. Without a command of Turkish (or hosts) it may be difficult to figure out how to order as you have to visit the cold and hot counters separately before you reach your table (drinks and Kebaps can be ordered once you sit down). Our dinner (40 TL each or roughly $24) was a sampling of many dishes, all of which were fantastic. As an aside, the image of the turtles below is from the visit to the pet store around the corner, which our hosts do every time the eat at Çiya.