Letter From An Istanbul Kitchen Part 2: Van Kahvalti Evi. Short Order Kurds in Cihangir

I can eat breakfast morning, noon and night. The traditional Turkish breakfast however {bread, jam, olives and cheese} leaves me cold.

I was raised in the American South and our custom dictates fried eggs, country ham, grits, sawmill gravy and biscuits shot through with lard, be served in the morning hours {or the evening hours if you’re my dad who loves to make breakfast for supper}.

I’ve read [ http://istanbuleats.com/2009/04/van-kahavalti-evi-the-kurdish-breakfast-club/ ] that the Kurds from the Lake Van region of Turkey really show and prove when it comes to the first meal of the day so I decide a visit to Beyoglu’s Cihangir  neighborhood is in order.

The small cafe’ looks like it was spirited out of Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas and the staff look like they were abducted from a Sonic Youth show at a loft in Brooklyn.

So far so good.

I’ve planned on a traditional Kurdish breakfast but once I spot a dish featuring sucuk, tomatoes and peppers, all bets are off. The rest of the menu reads like a paean to Alice Waters with all the organic goodies one can dream of or want.

My dish is served in a small, iron pan fresh from the broiler. It’s wonderful. The top flight farm eggs have been barely scrambled, mixed with chiles, sausage and tomatoes then broiled til barely set. Clearly a short order Kurd on a mission has been set to task in the back of the house.

A giant basket of breads comes with a cracked wheat bread, a white flatbread and and an odd roll that’s like a mini-boule. My server looks like a young Sonia Braga with a thick shock of curly hair cascading down her back.

Dessert is a small dish of strawberry jam [they’re out of blackberry] and a chilled glass of Ayran which tastes like the best buttermilk ever.

A sidewalk breakfast on a chilly Istanbul morning at Van Kahvalti Evi is a fine way to usher in a day of adventure in The City.


Address: Defterdar Yokusu No. 52A Cihangir
Telephone: 212-293-6437



About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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3 Responses to Letter From An Istanbul Kitchen Part 2: Van Kahvalti Evi. Short Order Kurds in Cihangir

  1. J Gibbs says:

    I feel so sad that you went to the Van restaurant in Beyoğlu because it kind of stinks when you know what a Van breakfast can be…the Van Kahvaltı Sofrası is not bad and certainly alot better than the Beyoğlu one–with an assortment of sweets and molasses, cheeses, floured dishes, breads, olives, etc.  If you are into Kurdish food may I suggest my wife’s blog…www.kurdishcuisine.blogspot.com.  She is building a collection of Northern Kurdistan recipes and they are both unique and easy to make….

  2. White Sofa says:

    wow, awesome blog post.Thanks Again. Great.

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