In the Laz language, “si sore” means, “where are you?” At least twice a week for past few years, our answer to that question at lunchtime would be, “We are at Pera Sisore.” This little restaurant  in the Asmalımescit area became one of our go-to lunch spots by serving some of the best Black Sea food around town. But after a disagreement, the two partners of the restaurant went their separate ways and the quality at Pera Sisore, sadly, took a turn for the worse.
We were feeling a bit lost for a period, not knowing where to go for a quick, honest lunch of hearty Laz fare. The Black Sea area is Turkey’s culinary misfit – it’s not really about kebabs or mezes. If anything, the food there seems to have been mysteriously transplanted from the American Deep South. We’re talking corn bread, collard greens and smoky bean stews. It’s simple, filling, down-home food and Sisore was a great – and affordable – spot to get acquainted with it. We’ve had decent meals there since the split, but it was clear we needed to find a new spot to get a quality fix of Black Sea food.
Then we got a call from Hızır Bey, the shaggy-haired owner who left Pera Sisore, taking with him the kitchen’s A team, including the feisty old lady who prepares the Black Sea specialty dishes and the man working the pide oven. This new venture, called Hayvore, is another Laz word, meaning, “I am here.” After a quick sampling of the dishes we recognized from Pera Sisore – chickpeas in a glowing red gravy, meaty stuffed chard leaves, large hunks of cornbread and Black Sea sardines lightly fried – we knew we’d be coming here regularly.
Address: Turnacıbaşı Sokak 4, Beyoğlu
(photo by Ansel Mullins)