Times are changing in Tarlabaşı , one of the most culturally diverse, interesting and occasionally dangerous neighborhoods of Istanbul.
The government’s billion-dollar Tarlabaşı 360 project aims to gentrify this area. Even with its seedy streets full of young ruffians and Syrian refugees, Tarlabaşı oozes with a charming ambiance like no other. Its beautiful architecture, dating back to Ottoman times, is covered in layers of soot and filth that cover unmistakable beauty.
Most charming of all is its resident menemen chef, İsmail Amca (“uncle” in Turkish), one of the more adorable Turkish characters we’ve met. He enjoys his retired life making the elemental egg dish menemen on the corner of Kurdela Sokak, a bustling thoroughfare that on Sundays is host to Tarlabaşı’s colorful weekly bazaar. An Istanbul native, İsmail Amca used to work odd jobs in factories before he retired and opened up his little menemen shop just over two years ago. Bubbling with friendliness and with a warm smile that is unmatched by any, İsmail Amca instantly makes you feel at home in his dark and cramped little kitchen, which has only a couple of tiny chairs and tables scattered about.
Read the rest of the review at Culinary Backstreets .