Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul

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About halfway through our day tour in Istanbul our best taxi driver Ihsan took us to a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain had ate at located under the shadows of the Valens aqueduct. When I saw Bourdain eating at this restaurant in the TV show they brought him all of these huge plates of food and were greeting him kindly and explaining everything to him in English  Surely I thought I would not get that treatment but surprisingly this was the most welcoming restaurant we ate at! We walked in and there were about 3 workers there who greeted us and Ihsan. Our table was upstairs and the restaurant was packed for a 4 PM dinner. There are seats by the windows so you can people watch, and check out framed articles from all of their known press on the walls.

Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul




Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul


The owner and his brother came and greeted us right as we sat down and thanked us for coming to his restaurant. Promising us we were going to have a good meal Ihsan proceeded to order a bunch of things and I was honestly concerned. I had no idea what I was in for. This is the real deal for Turkish food. Your surrounded by locals and it just smells amazing here.

Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul


Almost as soon as we sat down we were being brought all of these trays of food and drinks! We had water in these little sippy cups, hot tea, and Ayran. It's a yogurt water mix drink that is foamy on top. It is the standard drink in Turkey people would drink this instead of a soda. I thought it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever tried to drink but I still tried it.


For appetizers we had some sort of eggplant roll with a Spanish Bulgar rice tasting mix inside and a pointy oval fried looking corn meal pastry. The pastry had a mix of ground beef and spices I tasted a lot of cumin. These were both OK the thing that I really thought was interesting was this cous cous mixture they eat in a lettuce leaf. It had a lot of intense herb and lemon flavors. You put this adobo spicy sauce on it that's way hotter than anything I am used to. Although it does look like straight raw ground beef (I was assured it was vegetarian) it had such an interesting flavor I ate a few servings of this.



Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul
Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul
Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul





Shortly after this they brought 3 large trays of food. When it arrived everything was covered with the pita/naan bread I guess to help it keep warm. Since I do not eat lamb the chicken kabob platter was for me. On the tray we had these long green roasted peppers they had a kick but were not too spicy. You just eat these straight with your fingers no fancy eating manners here! Also on our plate were these thin shaved white onions and they were STRONG! I love onions but these were almost too intense to eat period.

This is the place where they cook the lamb underground oven using hot coals called Lamb Tandir. It is served over a pita/naan type bread which soaks up the juices of the chopped up lamb meat. Ihsan told us you eat it like a sandwich.


Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul

Sur Ocakbasi, Istanbul


Bottom line-- We left this place with full stomachs! I felt like this was an amazing well rounded Turkish meal! We had lots of flavor profiles here that we are not used to and lots of new things to try! Although I didn't care for the Ayran drink we had great service with a happy and warm experience! I would recommend this place or go back in a heart beat.