Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Hamdi Restaurant Istanbul
The multinational Ottoman Empire that once spread from the borders of Persia to just outside Vienna and as far south as North Africa, greatly affected the Turkish cuisine culture. Turkish cuisine now offers a wide variety of choices from meze, soups, meat and vegetable dishes, dishes with olive oil and pilafs to pastries, milky desserts, Turkish delights and ice cream.
Hamdi is a restaurant in Istanbul with three venues located in key city neighborhoods. The locations are: the original in Eminönü, where we have eaten a number of times and like the dishes very much, one in Pera at the Radisson Blu hotel and one in Şişli also at the Radisson Blu. See: www.hamdi.com.tr
The original is located at the top floor of a high-rise next to the Spice (Misir) Bazaar with spectacular views especially in the evening of the Golden Horn, the Yeni Camii (New Mosque), the Bosporus and the Galata Bridge and Galata Tower. It seats over 300 people but, if you decide to eat there, make sure you make reservations and ask for a table by the windows or on the terrace in the summer for the view, as the restaurant gets very crowded for both lunch and dinner!
Chef Hamdi Arpacı, the founder of Hamdi Restaurant, was one of several kebab masters who migrated from the Urfa province to seek fame and fortune in “The City.”
His restaurants now offer one of the best examples of fusion cuisine. Fusion cuisine is the synthesis of various cuisines from different cultures and Turkish cuisine is one of the leading fusion cuisines in the world.
Hamdi is a grilled meat heaven, a Turkish southeastern style kebapçi (grilled meat restaurant) with interesting meze starters; and the variety and quality of grilled meat dishes such as the classic Siş Kebap and Adana Kebap, the Yoğurtlu Kebap and the really authentic İskender Kebab is exceptional.
Additionally there are other typical dishes including Turkey’s and Armenia’s answer to Italian pizza, the delectable Lachmacun or Pide Lachmajoun, a thin flatbread topped with a slightly spicy mixture of diced tomato, ground beef and lamb meat and aromatic herbs.
The restaurant offers excellent food and a nice wine selection along with the spectacular view.
Save some room for the restaurant's renowned pistachio baklava or the decadent katmer, a flaky pastry with crushed pistachio slathered with kaymak (clotted cream).
For beverage, you can have raki, wine or ayran. the wine is quite good from vineyards in Souther Turkey; there are a couple raki options and the ayran, yoghurt deluted with ice cold water and salt, is very refreshing and pairs surprising well with the grilled kebabs.
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