So I’m in Istanbul. And it’s wonderful.
And more than that, the food has been so so good to me. I was going to ease into all my Turkish food-finds, but with limited time to be online here, I’m just jumping the gun to probably my favorite meal so far, and that’s from Bodrum Manti & Cafe.
Bodrum is located in a pretty upscale area, Arnavutköy (or “Albanian village”), but this place is deceivingly affordable and open 24 hours. I couldn’t imagine anything being better than the traditional boiled manti (manti are like like little pasta dumplings, usually with a spicy minced lamb filling, and topped with yogurt and red pepper/butter sauce). But Bodrum offers something arguably better: fried manti. Sigh. I was told by a Turkish friend that fried manti has more of a Bosnian influence, which could be true since I haven’t seen it anywhere else in Turkey so far.
First, they started us off with a spicy sauce and bread. Bread is a normal starter here, but the difference (at least that I’ve experienced so far), it’s almost never dry and fresh from the over — crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I could have OD’d on the sauce alone.
We ordered two types of manti — the slightly fried manti and one with spinach and cheese which that was a little bigger in size. They ask you if you want it with garlic…just say YES. They were both exceptionally tasty, like nothing I’ve ever had before. The dumplings are fried, but not overly greasy, crispy and perfect. I think the exact phrase my friend Shazia used after her first couple of bites was, “I really wouldn’t mind moving to Turkey and becoming morbidly obese.”
None of the staff knew any English, but that didn’t keep them from being super courteous and kind — not so different from most of our experiences in general here so far. (Note: I can’t believe I didn’t even have a book of basic Turkish phrases…I felt so rude most of the time, but people here have still been so ridiculously nice to us). At the end of our meal, they surprised us by bringing out this ice cream dessert that we didn’t order. All they said was, “Gift! Gift!”
I think it was either frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two wafers and topped with chocolate syrup. It was amazing, and such a perfect way to finish our meal. It’s a pretty romantic place too (yes, I went with my roomie from NY), with dim lighting and tables out on the porch where we ate, and you can even see the Bosphorous river from our table. If you’re ever in Istanbul, you have to come here.
Bodrum Manti & Cafe
Cadde No. 111