One of the things that most people rave about in Istanbul is the food, so I wanted to find a tour where we could experience as many different types of food as possible, and I found it. A Progressive Dinner on Two Continents provided by My Local Guide Istanbul. I like progressive dinners, have even organised one onboard a cruise ship, you get to dine at different places / restaurants as you progress through the different courses and the Taste of Turkey on Two Continents Tour was exactly what I was looking for. The Bosphorus is the demarkation line between Istanbul’s European and Asian districts, one side of the Bosphorus is the European Continent, the other side is the Asian Continent, so there are some very different cultural aspects on each side, especially when it comes to food.
Our guide for the tour was Salih Batkin who really enjoys providing his guests with a unique experience. He really made sure that we were looked after and answered all of our questions.
One of the key things that make this tour fairly unique is that we used public transport, trams and public ferries, everywhere we went, a lot more fun than sitting in a tour bus or car.
We met at the Fuego Cafe & Restaurant, point A on the map, which is on the European Side of Istanbul, where we met Salih and the other couple who would be joining us on the tour, they were from the UK. At the Cafe, Salih showed us on a map the areas that we would be visiting as a part of the tour after which we headed to the tram stop to catch the tram to the Eminönü Port, points B & C, where we would catch a ferry across the Bosphorous to the Kadıköy Port, point D, on the Asian Side.
After a short walk from the Port we arrived at the Kadıköy Market. Wow, what a selection of produce, fish, Turkish delicacies, spices, meats, small-goods and ….. The place was full of life, everything was fresh and the prices made me remember just how expensive it is in Singapore to buy good quality fresh food, spices, meat, etc.
First Stop – Ecevitler Gıda Pazarı (point E)
Our first stop was Ecevitler Gıda Pazarı which is a delicatessen / farmers market. First up on the food menu was Midye Dolma, mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, enjoyed them a lot, just had to add lemon juice and then eat them out of the shell, could have eaten them all night, but needed room for the next courses. We also got to try some Turkish cheeses, cured meats and olives, a nice mezze plate.
Well worth a checking out Ecevitler Gıda Pazarı if you are in the Kadıköy Market area as they have good quality products at a reasonable price (apparently).
Second Stop – Çiya Kebap (point F)
Çiya Kebap was where we would have our “main courses”, lots of different dishes to try. Çiya have a few different restaurants all in the same area, all of them were very busy, filled with locals, which is always a good sign.
- Turkish Lavash Bread
- Spicy lentil soup
- Goat with rosemary, chili and olive oil
- Mezzo plate
- Eggplant Dip (Patrician Salatasi)
- Yogurtlu Pazi
- Lahana Sarmasi
- Lamb and Mixed vVegetables
- Perde Pilaf – Dough, Rice, Raisins, Pine Nuts, Almonds, Chicken
- Chicken Kebab
- Lamb and Pistachio Kebab
After we completed our entrée and main courses, we all needed a walk to make room for the next course, dessert, so we headed back to Kadıköy Port to take another ferry this one to the Karaköy Port, point G, on the European Continent.
Third Stop – Karaköy Güllüoğlu (point H)
Karaköy Güllüoğlu is where we had our dessert, Baklava and Maraşh ice-cream. Karaköy Güllüoğlu is run by the Güllü Family who have been making Baklava since 1820 and are considered by the locals as the best in the business. What we tasted was definitely a step or three above some of the other Baklava that we tried during our time in Istanbul and the Marash ice-cream was also very good. Visiting this place is a must for anyone who travels to Istanbul!
From Karaköy we caught our last tram of the night to Beyazıt, point J.
Salih – our tour guide
Forth Stop – Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa Medresesi (point K)
Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa Medresesi was originally the Medresesi (school) attached to a Mosque, but when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, initiated a series of education reforms, including the consolidation of all Education Systems under the Ministry of National Education the school itself closed and the associated buildings had a number of uses over the years, including selling rugs, and is now a Shisha Cafe.
We arrived at around 10:30PM and the place was filled with locals all enjoying their Shisha and tea. I have smoked a Shisha pipe in other places in the world, but it is definitely something that should be experienced in Istanbul, it was a great way to wind down after a fun, interesting and very filling night!!
I recommend this tour as a great way to experience Istanbul and its food, whilst you can find and visit all of the places we visited yourself, it is doubtful that you will get the opportunity to try the same food or get the same level of service as we did, of course if you have your own Local Tour Guide you will, but not everyone has a Local friend. Salih is the guy you want as your guide as he was the person who created the tour and knows all the right places. As the Tour does not always go to the same restaurant, he selects other restaurants for the main dining experience when he feels that it might be a better option on the night or for the group.
FYI, there is a decent amount of walking, but nothing too difficult and it helps to create an appetite, you will need one, and walking off all of the food!!
The other couple who were with us on the tour had also been on one of My Local Guide Istanbul’s tours earlier in the day and they were very happy with it, and were considering booking another one with them. If we had more time, we probably would have booked another tour with My Local Guide Istanbul as well. I recommend them as well, they will also tailor tours to meet your needs, all you need to do is ask!!