Regional, delicious and affordable: Üsküdar Pilavcı
Never mind the “pilaf” mentioned in the name of this new restaurant, the moment we stepped inside, the aroma from the stews cooking inside hits your nose. So what can you find here? Let's start with special regional dishes: Bayburt and Amasya sarma, lor dolma, chard sarma, turnip dolma, okra with meat, hanımdudu stew, çökertme kebab, elbasan tava, Crimean kebab, Greek moussaka, keşkek, fried fresh beans, fried okra, Kayseri mantı and Albanian liver.
You can truly find flavors from all over Turkey here. What's more, we're not just talking about any flavors; the kitchen at this restaurant has really done justice to each dish. Also look for beans cooked in earthenware pots, rolled grape leaves, stuffed dried eggplant, stuffed squash, avcı kebab, Skopje köfte, stews with vegetables and chicken, dishes boasting lots of mushrooms, hünkar beğendi, Köroğlu köfte, watercress, leeks and spinach and the famous Topkapı chicken dish. Also look out for a series of delicious olive oil dishes, perfect to accompany rice pilafs.
Of course, with so many options, I wasn't able to try everything. For example, I did leave wondering what the “avcı” (hunter) soup tasted like. I swore to myself though that I'd head back at the first opportunity to find out.
This new Üsküdar Pilavcı opened just one week ago and its owners are Musa Sağır and Hakan Sağdıç. Able to accommodate 130 people at one time, this restaurant also boasts a generous garden area. You should note, before coming here, that the restaurant does not accept credit cards. This is the kind of place, however, that will let you drop by later and pay if you don't have money at the moment. Very brave!
One of the most famous dishes at Üsküdar Pilavcı is “maklube,” a Hatay regional pilaf dish made with chicken and eggplant. What is interesting about the maklube here is that you can order it made for just one, even though maklube is traditionally made for lots of people at one time, a favorite dish of crowded get-togethers.
Make some time here for the traditional kuru fasulye dish, made with dried white beans, as well. The Ispir beans used here boast more flavor because of the marrow used in the recipe. I also really liked the Konya-style okra. For a drink, try the delicious black mulberry juice here. Seeing more and more restaurants like this one --delicious, reasonably priced and offering home-cooked style dishes -- is a great plus for Turkish cuisine, I believe. email@example.com
A world of flavors, easy on the walletVegetable avcı (hunter) soup:TL 3
Lentil tomato soup:TL 2.50
Bayburt, Amasya chard sarma:TL 6
Okra with meat, hanımdudu stew:TL 7
Çökertme kebab, elbasan tava:TL 10
Crimean kebab, Albanian liver:TL 10
Rumeli moussaka, stuffed turnip:TL 6
Various types of pilaf:TL 2.50-4
Olive oil dishes:TL 5
Kuru fasulye, fresh bean dish, karnıyarık (stuffed eggplant):TL 5
Stuffed grape leaves, other kinds of stuffed leaves:TL 6
Skopje köfte, tas kebab, meat sauté with mushrooms:TL 10
Chicken tandoori, tacuk kapala, hünkar beğendi:TL 10
Spinach, watercress, leek:TL 5
Hunter kebab, vegetable stew, moussaka:TL 6
Opened a week ago in Bağlarbaşı, this new branch of Üsküdar Pilavcı offers a wide range of stews and regional dishes. Interestingly, it is self-service here, meaning you grab a tray and serve yourself.
The restaurant is located on a busy street so there is no parking available. They do offer take-out service for nearby areas. Prices are very reasonable. Open every day except Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The most famous dish at Üsküdar Pilavcı is no doubt its single-portion maklube dish, a surefire pleaser.
Muratreis Mah. Nuhkuyusu Caddesi No: 249/1 Bağlarbaşı, Üsküdar / İstanbul
Tel: 0216 532 00 40
Other great spots to try:
Zahir Restaurant: Serving up dishes in a beautiful wooden building in Kuzguncuk, Zahir is a place where I often stop by and is notable for its Ottoman dishes, its maklube and its breakfast options. Tel: 0216 310 03 02 www.zahirrestaurant.com.
Paşa İskender: Located in Florya Şenlikköy, this is also a great place, both for its flavors and its ambiance. You can also find traditional breakfast options every hour of the day here. And of course, the İskender kebab mentioned in its name is done extremely well here. Tel: 0212 662 96 96 www.pasaiskender.com.tr.
Menemen Mutfak Kafe: This spot is located in Fatih Kıztaşı and is famous for its single-portion makbule, as well as its menemen with cheese. Look for a wonderful breakfast with omelets served every hour of the day if you desire. Tel: 0212 521 06 66 www.menemencafe.com.
Abdulkadir Restaurant: This spot boasts a great Kastamonu style-döner. Located in Bakırköy, you know you will always be eating well when you stop by! Tel: 0212 570 49 31 www.abdulkadirrestaurant.com.
Babadostu Cağ Kebabı: This eatery offers up the regional dishes of Erzurum. It has branches in both Mahmutbey and Sefaköy. Look for the Cağ kebab as well as the delicious kadayıf dolması here. Tel:0212 580 09 25, 503 22 36 www.babadostu.com.