Monday, January 17, 2011

Eating amazingly fresh seafood is one of the joys of living here in Istanbul!

I usually make it to one of the “Balik Pazar” about once a week. I probably should shop there more often since we are practically surrounded by water from the nearby Black Sea, Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. (I blame it on my carnivore-like tendencies since I grew up in the Midwest.)

This past weekend, I finally had recovered enough and felt like my normal self. Luckily, we also had visitors coming from Bulgaria and they wanted to eat at a fish restaurant. One of my girlfriends whom I worked with in New York City is originally from Bulgaria and happened to be visiting her family back in her hometown.

Of course, Jason and I were happy to show off our city! Taksim – is the best place for guests to experience Istanbul’s varied nightlife at its best. On Saturday night, the main street of Istiklal Caddesi was completely full of people!

For dinner, I had made a reservation at Asmalımescit Balikçisi, Asmalımescit Mah. Ve Sofyalı Sk. No: 5/A in Tünel-Beyoğlu. (I think the restaurant has been renamed to Rakici Asmalımescit.) This was my first reservation I made entirely in Turkish! I was quite proud of myself! For the most part, I just had to know my numbers.

For mezes, our server brought out a large tray full of approximately 15 small white dishes. We selected a yogurt and pursulane dip, cold octopus salad, patlıcan salatası, mackerel, and some other type of fish. Of course, we also started the meal off with raki, the popular Turkish anisette-flavored liqueur.


The restaurant was full of people – all Turkish, which we saw as a good sign! And everyone was drinking raki too! The menu was in English and Turkish. For the most part, we try to practice our Turkish as much as possible.

Çoban Salatası and a fried liver meze.
On the menu, Jason was happy to see “hamsi” which are small anchovies. He’s been dying to try the hamsi - a Black Sea seasonal fish. October is the beginning of the hamsi fishing season, and it continues through the winter months here. These silvery, tasty morsels are lightly fried. Jason said they are like “fish French fries” and you must eat them while they are hot. (I had previously tried hamsi twice at a small restaurant in Yenikoy.)


Apparently, I have a lot to learn about this little fish. Just this morning, one of my local friends told me that I need to learn how to make hamsi with a fresh tomato sauce. There’s another Turkish recipe where the hamsi are deboned, filleted and stuffed with various goodies. Well, I’m happy to learn. Sign me up!

The rest of us ordered the “levrek” or sea bass. This fish is always fresh and light. All it needs is a little bit of fresh lemon juice.


Dinner lasted nearly three hours, and the raki kept flowing. It was fun to catch up with my friend and learn about Bulgaria from her, her brother and his wife. It sounds like Bulgaria would be good weekend trip for us, especially during the winter months for skiing. It looks like we can drive to some of the ski resorts in about five to six hours.
My friend, Rosalina, and me
Hopefully, we can cross another country off of our list and experience a different cuisine!

Afiyet Olsun!

This isn't the best photo, but at least you can get a general idea of how crowded the streets are at night.

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2 comments:

Sippy Cup Central Mom said...

The food looks great, I adore sea bass, especially in ceviche.

ilker said...

The part of sentence about : "hamsi - a Black Sea seasonal fish"

I will give you a secret ! We people from Blacksea region, we do not call hamsi as a fish.

It is a special asset and we call it always Hamsi :)