Letter From an Istanbul Kitchen Part 5: Adem Baba. Fish Masters of Arnavutkoy

Like Galatoires in New Orleans Louisiana, Adem Baba puts a piece of fish on a plate and says “there’s your fish now eat it”. The restraint is admirable, the fish impeccable and the service beautifully understated.

The proximity of a nearby mosque dictates no Raki shall be served and the proximity of Istanbuls’ inner-burbs dictates that toddlers will be afoot whilst you dine.

A seafood soup as a starter is apparently required eating as every single diner has one on his table. It is a good, creamy chowder-style corba with plenty fresh seafood in the goodly volume bowl. A squeeze of lemon and a shake of red pepper ensures that perhaps you’re having one of the finer soups in Istanbul.

A plate of  fried, whole Red Mullet appears and is laid into with the gusto normally reserved for catfish at a fish camp in rural Alabama. My sage companion, a native Turk, watches me closely to make sure I get no more than a sample. This ends up being the best bite of fish I have during two weeks of intense Istanbul eating.

A sweet and meaty Cupra makes the table next apparently caught mere moments before being cooked on the plancha and served. It is divine but pales in comparison to the Red Mullet

A giant bowl of freshly torn greens and chopped ripe tomatoes covered in wondrously salty Turkish cheese is our only side item.

It’s perfect.

A Sunday’s Winter lunch at Adem Baba reminds me of the value of simplicity in a skilled kitchen. There is no frippery here. The owners have mastered the art of procuring the finest ingredients Istanbul has to offer then preparing them simply and delivering them to table without a hint of the frills or foppishness so many cooks stateside pride themselves on these days.

At the end of my meal I’m left to daydream about how good a little tray of fried hushpuppies and a pint of ice cold beer would’ve went down with this fine repast.

Satismeydani Sok. No:2
Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

tele: (0212) 263 29 33

About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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