Van Kahvaltı Evi: The Kurdish Breakfast Club
In Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern provinces, breakfast is not just for breakfast anymore. Particularly in the city of Van, not far from Turkey’s border with Iran, the morning repast has been turned into serious business: the town is filled with dozens of kahvaltı salonları – breakfast salons – that serve a dizzying assortment of farm-fresh breakfast items day and night.
In recent years this boffo breakfast has been working its way westward, with several Van-style kahvaltı salonları now open in Istanbul. Our favorite, by far, is Van Kahvaltı Evi (“Van Breakfast House”) in Beyoğlu’s Cihangir neighborhood. The restaurant has quickly become one of the area’s most popular, and it’s easy to see why. The people running the friendly place – a crew of hip, young Kurds who seem to be members of the slow food movement without even realizing it – serve a mean Van breakfast, bringing in most of their ingredients, some of them organic, from back east.
The Van breakfast takes the traditional Turkish breakfast of cheese, tomato, cucumber and some bread and turns it up several notches. At Van Kahvaltı Evi, along with the standards, your breakfast plate comes with an assortment of local Van cheeses (including a very tasty one that contains brined wild herbs), the heavenly kaymak, tangy cacık (thick yogurt spread) and murtuğa, a heavy wheat-flour porridge that looks almost like scrambled eggs. Butter, jams, olives and some of Van’s famous honey round all this out – along with endless glasses of strong tea. One plate is certainly enough to feed a whole family. Along with the breakfast plates, the restaurant also serves fried eggs and menemen, scrambled eggs cooked with sautéed onions, green peppers and tomato. They also serve excellent gözleme, thin sheets of hand-rolled dough that are wrapped around cheese, potato or spinach.
Van Kahvaltı Evi can get quite busy on the weekends, when a line usually forms outside, so come early if you want to get a table. Or, better and easier yet, do like they do in Van and come later in the day to have breakfast for dinner.
Address: Defterdar Yokuşu 52/A, Cihangir, Beyoğlu
Post Tags: Beyoğlu, breakfast, Cihangir, eggs, Istanbul restaurants, specialty foods, vegetarian
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