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Jun 04
Friday
Reviews (Eats)
Antebi: Straight Outta Antep


On Saturday afternoon, in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, our baklava was neatly wrapped with plastic and then paper, tagged “Antebi, Istanbul” in black marker and escorted to the bus station by either Levent or Bülent of Zeki İnal Baklavacısı. While we slept that night, our baklava passed through the central Anatolian plains, logging 850 miles on the road before reaching Istanbul.

The baklava was supposed to have arrived by noon. We’d confirmed that by telephone before setting off for Antebi, a Gaziantep-style kebab restaurant on Istanbul’s Asian side which serves a sweet flaky pastry straight in from the baklava motherland. We planned much of our weekend around the baklava’s arrival. However, it was late.

“It will be here at 1:30,” the waiter told us while we were en route to the restaurant, quickly hanging up the phone.

Arriving at Antebi with nearly two hours to kill, we perused the menu and ordered a lahmacun and an Ali Nazik kebabı. The lahmacun arrived steaming and flopping cartoonishly over either end of the plate, like an elephant riding a tricycle. Our Ali Nazik, shreds of marinated meat over a bed of smoky eggplant mash mixed with yogurt, was nothing impressive. The kebab at this kebab house seemed to us an afterthought, or perhaps we were distracted by the day’s main course, the baklava.

While in Gaziantep, we ate enough baklava to understand the mania around it. Tasting baklava in Gaziantep after years of eating it in Istanbul is like switching from Nescafe to espresso. It is that much better, the chronic of baklava. On our last visit to Gaziantep, we even skipped a side trip to the historic town of Hasankeyf in order to free up the day for more baklava eating, with no regrets.

How perfectly frivolous it may seem to bus in a dessert to Istanbul, like bringing a pocketfuls of sand to a beach. But this baklava with the giant carbon footprint satisfies something important for people like us who need to find, eat and declare the best.

So if it is agreed that the best baklava in Turkey comes from Gaziantep, and some of the best baklava in Gaziantep is crafted by moonlight at Zeki İnal Baklavacısı, then the last word in the Istanbul baklava debate belongs to Antebi. Case closed.

Finally, our baklava arrived.

If baklava has one thousand and one layers of membrane-thin flake, we detected well over 500 individually on the first bite. We might have understood more of the baklava’s complexity if we hadn’t been slapping high fives and hooting our approval to the waiter. The thick deck of pistachios sandwiched by airy flake and saturated lower levels unite in a bite that is neither dry nor goopy, has crackle and ooze. The bright nutty flavor of the local Gaziantep pistachios worked its magic against the sweetness lurking below.

In short, this was the baklava that kept us away from Hasankeyf. Luckily, we didn’t have to board a cross-country bus to find it.

(Note: Antebi only offers Gaziantep baklava on Saturdays and Sundays. Call ahead to make sure a shipment is coming.)

 

Address: Acıbadem Caddesi 74/A, Kadıköy
Telephone: 216-340-7820

 

(photo by Ansel Mullins)

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8 Responses to “ Antebi: Straight Outta Antep ”
  1. Just arrived back in the UK from a week in Antep and agree completely that there’s none to compare. We found Sirvan’s the best, just nudging Imam Cagdas into second place. Well worth 19 hours on the train there and back!

    There’s a photo of Sirvan’s Ali Nazik on my site, again I found it slightly more to my taste than Imam Cagdas’.

  2. Thanks for the field report! Sounds like we need to give Sirvan a second look. An Ali Nazik better than Imam Cagdas’s? We’ll take the next train down to Antep to check it out!

  3. Güllüoglu is the best Gaziantep-style baklava I’ve had in İstanbul, but it still wasn’t as good as İmam Çağdaş. I’ll have to make another trip to the south to try Sirvan.

  4. I am planning a trip to Gaziantep next month. I have read good things about Imam Cagdas but after this review I will have to try Zeki Inal also. Can you please post the address?
    Thanks, Ron.

  5. Here’s the answer:
    Here you go:
    Zeki Inal Baklavacisi
    Ataturk Caddesi 38
    Sehitkamil Mah.
    Antep
    03422312069
    It is right near the Tugcan Hotel. It’s mostly a sales point bit they have a few tables where you can sit and eat.

  6. While you’re trying the baklava don’t forget the beyran and the kelleye kavurma (sp?) .

    Our host, Timur Schindel at Anadolu Evleri, recommended a neighbourhood restaurant called Kelebek and it turned out to be the gastronomic highlight of our stay in Antep, baklava notwithstanding! I can’t remember exactly where it is but it is opposite a large park, on the corner of Sair Nabi Sokak.

    The following may be the same place but I can’t guarantee it! If only I spoke Turkish 🙁

    http://www.lezzetduragi.net/kelebek-kelle-paca-beyran-r78.html

    Adres : Kemal Köker Cad. Ulu Cami -Civarı Sahil Yolu:65/A / GAZİANTEP
    Telefon : 0342 230 96 33

  7. This seems to be their website:
    http://kelebekrestoran.com/

  8. Yes, that’s it – I’ve just watched the video on my link. Delicious!


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