In spite of my dressing down in Istanbul, the roving rug salesmen have me fingered as a money-mark from USA. I wear a backpack, keep my boots scuffed, and try to stay as non-descript as possible. That being said, these gentlemen are very knowledgeable when it comes to giving me directions to restaurants on my master list of Istanbul Eats printouts.
Which is how I find Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi, the Sirkeci kebab house. I’m seated on the patio mere inches from a fire where the meat is sputtering and sizzling. The smell is driving me wild. I ask for red lentil soup, and am bequeathed with one of the top five soups I’ve ever eaten.
It’s a puree’ of lentils creamed in broth and seasoned with little more than salt and paprika. A squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes takes it to the stratosphere.
My duo of lamb kebabs come next and are a treasure of fat and lean served on billowing lavash (Turkey’s answer to the tortilla.) However, I’m intensely jealous of the busboy. He approaches the usta and requests some food. The meat man grabs a hunk of bread, splits it then using it as a shovel, scrapes up all the trimmings from the catch pan beneath the lamb roasting on the spit! Anything that is too fatty or charred is folded into the loaf and fed to the workers.
Oh to be a busboy at Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi.
Address: Hocapasa Sok. 3/A, Sirkeci