During my week long stay in Sultanahmet I spend a lot of time at Aria. It’s right down the street from my inn and a convenient place to take my morning tea as I calibrate myself for a long day of walking and eating through Istanbul.
The cay [tea] is good and the streetside ambience [on the busy Akbiyik Caddesi] couldn’t be better. Young boys trundle along big wooden carts heaped with vegetables, car stereos, empty propane tanks, second hand shoes-you name it while the well heeled tourists staying at the nearby Four Seasons reconnoiter along slowly taking in the beauty of the old town.
The menu is a hodge podge of tourist food; chicken wings, sandwiches and what have you, none of it interesting enough to warrant my attention but after repeated visits the owner mentions that he’d like to cook some Kurdish food for me.
I light up like a Christmas tree.
I’ve never had Kurdish food. The chef/owner Dogu is a Kurd from the Lake Van region of Turkey, an area known for it’s beauty and reportedly the home of some very good Kurdish cookery.
My plate arrives forthwith and it’s an interesting melange of flavors. I would liken it to Italian food as an obvious reference point. Is there such a thing as stir fried Kurdish lasagna?
There is now.
My plate is heaped with browned ground beef, tomatoes, cheese and onions. It’s barely seasoned but pleasant enough. While it doesn’t fill me with the urge to explore the world of Kurdish cuisine it’s a fine, homey meal.
The inside of the cafe is all hippy tree house vibe with big,casement windows swung outwards, lots of floor cushions and fairy lights strung up everywhere. These Kurds are clearly going for the backpacker crowd. The soundtrack is all bad American hip hop and the bi-lingual staff couldn’t be friendlier.
I wouldn’t run back to Aria for the food but it’s a fine place for a cup of cay and a bit of hospitality.
On Akbiyik Caddesi
2 blocks east of Cooking a la Turka
About the Stars:
4 **** Extraordinary, life changing
3 *** Excellent
2 * Very good
1 * Good
0 * Mediocre
Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating.