Students of Istanbul street food will recognize the ıslama modifier on this köfte and understand its relation with the oh-so-edible “ıslak” hamburger  in Taksim Square. It is a fellowship of drenched bread. But while the wet burger is drenched in secret sauce and sent to steam in the burger hammam, ıslama köfte’s wide slices of village bread are dunked in kemik suyu, or homemade beef stock, and grilled alongside the meatballs.
We asked Osman Usta, who has worked the grill at AKO Adapazarı Islama Köfte for 39 years, what the secret is. He replied, “No secrets. You just dunk [the bread] and grill it.”
The “and grill it” part of Osman’s instructions, we think, is the key to this dish. Three slices of toasted, sopping bread covered nearly a dozen bite-size köfte. The bread achieved a real crunch and melt-in-your-mouth sop that we’ve only experienced in a good French toast. At other köfte places, we’ll never look at bread – sitting there undunked and untoasted – alongside köfte the same way again.
Though the bread represents the luxury option package of the dish, and distinguishes it from more common models, checking under the hood of this köfte reveals a meatball firing on all cylinders. Juicy and handmade, grilled perfectly over a charcoal fire, these meatballs need not hide under any bread. “Forget the bread, I’d come back for the köfte alone,” said someone at the table. Which side of this dish – the ıslama bread or the köfte – plays the lead seems a subject for debate, only to be resolved by another visit to this fine spot.
Address: Yasa Caddesi 11, Kadıköy (inside the bazaar area)
Web: www.adapazariislamakofte.com 
(photo by Ansel Mullins)