If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto! You can find all past recaps here.
Man, I really need to eat some big countries, like Russia, China, and the US and Canada, so I can purple that map up.
Anyway, for Turkey Evan and I went to a cute family-run authentic Turkish restaurant at Steeles and Highway 400 called Sofra Istanbul. Evan actually took me there last year and I remember absolutely LOVING it. The inside is understated and reminds me a bit of a diner or a coffee shop, but the food is delicious and the portions are HUGE.
(my beef saute from last time)
Sofra Istanbul is a kebab/kabob house but they do also have a list of traditional Turkish dishes on the menu. I was after those because as I have noticed as I’ve been eating the world, kabobs are everywhere. Many of the countries in that area I’ve already eaten are big on kabobs: Iran, Afghanistan, Greece. I love a good meat stick, but I want new things. Luckily Sofra Istanbul had an entire non-kabob section (their kabob’s did look delicious though).
I think what I was most surprised about is Turkey actually borders Georgia, which I have already eaten, but the food was very different, as far as I could tell. You can read all about Turkish cuisine here if you’re interested.
We started with a green salad, which I am pretty sure is not specific to Turkey and probably just a restaurant thing, but either way it was a good green salad.
Mostly because of the dressing, which they do make in-house. I am not sure how to describe it, garlicky and herby and a little yogurty maybe? It was wonderful.
For an appetizer we went for the Turkish cigar rolls, a popular Turkish treat! Feta cheese with parsley, herbs and spices deep fried in phyllo dough.
I already know I am going to be a fan of any sort of cheese wrapped in any sort of carb, so it was no surprise that I loved these. I had a bit of salad dressing left over and they were really good dipped in that as well!
Evan and I both really badly wanted to try the manti, which are basically little dumplings filled with lamb or ground beef (or a mix), and sometimes known as Turkish ravioli. Unfortunately Sofra Istanbul was out of them when we were there, so no manti for us. It was disappointing and we may have to go back for them sometime, but instead we ordered the Iskender kebap. Shaved beef/lamb mix with a warm tomato sauce and melted sheep butter, served over a bed of Turkish bread and with yogurt (very popular in Middle Eastern countries).
It was very good. Very, very good. I don’t love lamb on its own but I find it much more appetizing when it’s mixed with beef. Iskender is apparently one of the most famous meat foods in northwest Turkey. I loved the bread underneath the meat also.
Eat all the meat!
We also ordered a Turkish pizza (or pide), lahmacun (or lahmajun).
The crust is very thin and crispy, and unlike traditional pizza there is no sauce or cheese (and usually sauce and cheese is my favourite part of pizza so I was a bit skeptical at first). The thin dough is topped with minced beef (or lamb, but beef in this case) and minced vegetables and herbs like onion, tomato and parsley, and then it is baked. It was SO GOOD.
We couldn’t finish it all so we packed half of it up to bring home. I am excited for lunch today. Lahmacun is also popular in Armenia and Syria. If you ever have the chance to try it, go for it!
We finished our meal with Turkish black tea.
It is called çay (pronounced Chai). Basically just black tea, but very popular throughout Turkey.
And stick a fork in Turkey, it is done! Another delicious eating experience for sure.