The Grand Bazaar is a hard shot to the belly; a frantic maelstrom of shoppers, street hustlers, carpet hawkers, housewives, backpackers, and characters both savory and otherwise.
I have my bound-itinerary in hand with Kara’s address, and it’s an excellent defense against the intensely-aggressive salesman of all manners of Turkish ephemera.
When the pitch hits I raise my palm in the air “Sir, perhaps you can help me. I’m looking for this place to eat”. Gesturing to my print-outs further throws them off their game. Moments later, I’m off, wending my way in the direction given. It still takes a good half hour before I finally locate the small, open air courtyard located deep inside the Bazaar.
Worth the hunt.
I order the spicy Adana kebab and it arrives shortly in all its glory. The plating is beautiful with two kebabs laid up alongside a small salad of onions, herbs and lettuce dusted with sumac. Freshly-charred chiles and ripe tomatoes provide nice color, and a boost of heat and sweetness.
Then it happens. The first bite of my kebab proves that all kebabs I’ve had in the past have been little more than pale impostors. If a lifetime of kebab eating has been rendered naught by my first bite then the second morsel reveals a long, difficult road ahead as I navigate a life thousands of miles away from Kara’s deliciousness.
The real difference lies in the texture of the meat. It’s a fine grind that’s been handled very deftly. Nicely salted with the tiniest bit of heat coming after the charred crust gives way to the moist center.
The mere thought that there may be other Adanas as good as this one in Istanbul provides much needed gumption when I’m feeling weary during the course of my visit.
Ambience is strong. The tidy courtyard is hosting a card game between elderly Turkish men, a few young bucks are drinking tea next door while the skies overhead are threatening a rain that never comes.
Kara Mehmet’s appearance, time worn, shows little to indicate that it harbors one of the cities most talented chefs working in the hyper-competitive Adana kebab field.
Address: Iç Cebeci Han No: 92, Grand Bazaar