The gastronomic spectrum of Istanbul extends from the common street and excellent kebab restaurants (lokanta) to the distinguished cuisines of the luxurious hotels, Istanbul has a rich mixture of the inheritance of a great cuisine culture and a close contact with the experimental approaches in the world cuisines. You can come across with all kinds of food in any comer around Istanbul including the traditional tastes of the Ottoman court cuisine or fresh fish of the Bosporus; various kind of sushi, the favorite dish of the Japanese cuisine; the fusion cuisine of Australia; the mystical Indian cuisine and the spiced dishes of Mexico from distant geographies. All of the delicate examples of the Mediterranean, Spanish and French dishes; and of course the fast food that has become indispensable all over the world.
The most stylish and distinguished restaurants of Istanbul are gathered in the Bosporus, Taksim, the districts famous with the luxurious shopping centers such as Nisantasi, Tesvikiye, Etiler and Levent. All of the specialized and high quality restaurants in the five star hotels of Istanbul also provide the examples of different cuisines.
The “Meyhane”s are the most typical examples of the restaurants peculiar to Istanbul. They present the most authentic entertainment in Istanbul with a rich selection of Turkish `mezes (Hors d`Oeuvres), in accompaniment with Turkish raki and live Turkish music. There are hundreds of kinds of mezes. Since they are generally vegetal and contain very little meat or fish, mezes can be good alternatives for the vegetarians. Although raki is the most consumed drink, Turkish wines and beers of good quality and all kind of important drinks are available.
Kebab, pide and lahmacun are very popular foods in the West, although they are originally the tastes of the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey. Hence, there are many kebab restaurants (kebapci) in many parts of Istanbul.
The Ottoman culture has originated, evolved and become famous with the cuisine and eating customs that are the most part of the culture, from the historical background going back to Asian Turks. Thus, the qualities of Ottoman cuisine must be evaluated by considering the variety coming from its cultural and historical background, the wealth brought by its geography and climate and finally the abundance coming from the sea.
These conditions have brought Ottoman Cuisine to the degree of being one of the three great cuisines of the world. The rich variety in Turkish food is related to many factors. In other words; the variety of the products provided by the lands of middle Asia and Anatolia, the interaction with many different cultures throughout the history, the new tastes evolved in the courts of empires such as Seljuk and Ottoman, have played a role in the new structure of Turkish cuisine.
The Turkish Cuisine is generally composed of dishes prepared with grain, various vegetables, soups, cold dishes, cooked with olive oil (zeytinyaglar), pastry and self-grown herbs. Besides, Pekmez (grape molasses), yoghurt, bulgur (boiled and pounded wheat) are some of the healthy foods that are peculiar to Turkey. In addition to fish, meat, kebabs, lahmacun (pancake with spicy meat filling) and pide; desserts such as ajure (Noah`s pudding), kazandibi (a caramel based pudgy profiterol, tavukgogsu (chicken breast pudding) and baklava; special (I inks helva, ayran, cherry juice, Turkish coffee and raki have taken their place in l be taste geography Turkish inventions.
The “world city” quality of Istanbul applies in food and beverages area too. Almost all of the world cuisines are represented by outstanding restaurants in Istanbul. The restaurants where you can find the main specialties of various countries serve within the grand hotels or independently, Istanbul has gained a respected status in the area of gastronomy by sailing towards the “universal”.
Istanbul has relatively less Russian restaurants in quantity, but not in quality. These restaurants were founded by the Russians that had left their country and come to Istanbul during 1910s; and they are managed by their children or grandchildren now. They have not lost anything from their tradition, quality and authenticity. Your wonderful “Borsh” soup, “Kievski” and “Piroski” are cozy, and accompanied by “vodka!”
The number of restaurants serving the delicious examples of the Italian cuisine that matches with Turkish taste on a large scale has practically “boomed” in recent years. When considered with the restaurants serving pizza, Istanbul is almost a complete substitute for Rome in terms of “the existence of Italian restaurants!” There are Italian restaurants on either sides of the city ranging from the pretty places you gobble pizza, to the super luxurious “ristorantes” that suits all budgets and pleasures.
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