(Editor’s Note: As 2010 heads to an end, we are looking back at our “Best Bites” of the year and are asking our readers to do the same and share their best Istanbul eating moments with us. This submission (after the jump) comes from San Francisco residents David Bowers and Bruce Ivie who had a very memorable meal at Istanbul culinary shrine Çiya.)
We must write to nominate our choice of Istanbul’s Best Bites of 2010 – Çiya Sofrası in Kadıköy! Hands down, Musa Dağdeviren has his heart around the beauty and the glory of all things Kurdish and Southeastern Turkish from some of our favorite cities in Turkey!
We live in San Francisco, California, USA and have traveled extensively each year for the last twenty years in Turkey. As foodies and private chefs, we follow Istanbul Eats religiously after receiving our first issue of Cornucopia Magazine some time ago and seeing your web-site in that fateful issue.
Since our first visit to your site, we have tried many recommendations while in Istanbul in the spring of 2009 and this April and May 2010. It was on our last trip that we first enjoyed the Çiya Sofrası’s delicious cuisine and immense bounty of Southeastern Turkish/Kurdish origins. Our mouths are watering now as we relive our three visits there this spring. As well, we are returning to Istanbul in late December of this year and most of January 2011 and will be heading across the Marmara Denizi first thing upon arriving to revisit our new found home-away-from home. We cannot wait to taste the joys once again…
The service at Çiya Sofrası is impeccable, the location on Güneşlibaçe Sokak is perfect, and the food choices delicious, interesting, exciting and mouthwatering in every way. The sight of slow braised and lovingly prepared foods in the steam table and in crockery pots laid out for all to see and enjoy are a sight to behold and the smells are intoxicating as well…
Some stand outs for us were:
-Erik and lamb stew
-Baked spiced bulgur
-Eggplant and pepper stew
-Stuffed Dried Eggplant and Peppers
-Yogurt soup with tiny meat and rice balls
-Tomato dessert, Pumpkin dessert, Fig dessert, Olive dessert, Orange peel dessert, kaymaklı şöbiyet (We tried them all!)
-Kekik çayı alongside sumak suyu, and a wonderful parsely, apple, kiwi elixir that we had to have seconds and then thirds of because it was so good.
Yes, it is true, we tried these items all in one meal sitting as the attached photo shows and we returned the very next day to try another repeat over indulgence. We owe our thanks and gratitude to you Istanbul Eats for leading us there. We returned and enjoyed a third meal a few days later and it was on this visit that we heard about the New York Times article showcasing the owner and his love affair with Southeastern Turkish and Kurdish cuisine and his work as ambassador to save these special preparations and delights.
Please enjoy this place each time you visit and know that there are few places in Turkey and even in Istanbul, where you can gather up the quality of dishes and enjoy the variety of choices from so many southeastern locations in Turkey all at once while dining at one single table. It is hands down one of the most joyful and delicious experiences of our Turkish travels to date. We thought we were in Karamanmaraş, Ş.Urfa, G.Antep, Mardin, D.Bakır, Antakya and the like all at once without any travel, no buses or airplanes and a short but joyful ferry ride away from Eminönü.
Funny, we have just decided to change our plans and spend 8 days of our upcoming trip in Southeastern Turkey because we enjoy this part of your wonderful country very much. It is all because of Çiya Sofrası and writing this note to Istanbul Eats that we have made this decision opting out of our planned visit to the Black Sea. The rest of our time will be lovingly spent in Istanbul.
WOW Çiya Sofrası — You deserve all of the accolades that you are enjoying. Thank you to Musa Dağdeviren for the joys and the wonders. We look forward to enjoying your dishes for many, many years to come!
Ciao and Peace,
David Bowers and Bruce Ivie