The smell of freshly ground coffee and baked bread hangs in the air, as men in blue aprons shout out the catch of the day. The restaurants are packed and their patrons spill out onto narrow lanes, where dried herbs hang from the ceilings. The stalls have bottles of oils on shelves and dozens of different cheeses on display. This is the Kadikoy Carsisi, a vibrant bazaar on Istanbul’s Asian side. If you’re planning a visit, here are some stores that shouldn’t be missed.
There’s no need to run to a kebab shop to satisfy a craving for zesty pickled peppers if you buy a jar or two from Ozcan Tursulari’s pickle shop, which sells over 50 kinds of preservative-free pickled products. “My father and grandfather were born in this building,” says fourth-generation Ozcan pickler Ahmet Ozcan, illustrating just how entwined their family business is with this historic market. The store was opened in 1935 when his “great-grandfather learned his craft from an Armenian pickler in the Kadikoy Market”, and is now on the radar of every food guide in the city. Starting with just a handful of products like cabbage, peppers, grape leaves and cucumbers, the owners have experimented and innovated over the years. “I have a business degree, another brother studied food engineering,” says Ozcan. “Family businesses are diminishing in the market but we want to keep ours going.”
It’s a limited menu at Halil’s lahmacun: lahmacun, dill and cheese pide, yet the restaurant is almost always packed. The perfectly crispy lahmacun, a very thin flatbread topped with minced meat and parsley, is washed down with Halil’s homemade ayran, a cold yogurt drink. Watch the expert chefs here roll out the dough, add toppings and bake it in their woodfire oven at the front of the shop. Also try their popular dill and cheese pide (a boat-shaped Turkish pizza), a flavour they specialise in that is hard to find elsewhere in the city.
Whether it’s the barrels filled with colourful olives lined outside or employee Muharem Kaya’s laugh that first entices you to enter the Gozde Sarkuteri, once inside you will leave with your hands full. With over 80 different kinds of mezes (appetisers) from the Black Sea region to Eastern Anatolia, to a hundred types of cheese and 30 kinds of olives, the Gozde Gourmet Sarkuteri and Meze shop is a must-see when visiting Kadikoy. Kaya has lived in the neighbourhood for 60 years and worked at the shop for 30, and his love for Kadikoy is infectious. “The sea, the people, the location; come to Kadikoy it is the most beautiful place in Istanbul… the restaurants are always full, the people get drunk and they like to sing,” he says. The dedication shows in their produce and the variety of tastes offered at Gozde Sarkuteri, with the owners staying up-to-date with regional chefs and farmers year-round to help bring the flavours of Turkey to their shop.
The year 1923 appears on the vintage-style posters and menu at Fazil Bey, and both the date and name are an ode to the the owner Ragip Tuncali’s father – Fazil, who was born in 1923 and loved Turkish coffee. Tuncali’s family ran a nut, dried fruit and coffee bean store in the historical Kadikoy bazaar. Their traditional method of roasting and stone-grinding coffee beans kept the customers coming back. They use the same antique machines from their old store in the Kadikoy bazaar because they believe the flavour of the Turkish coffee comes from an authentic roasting and grinding process. You can catch a glimpse of the stone mill grinding the coffee beans inside the shop, as the coffee is roasted in front of you. Stop by for a pick-me-up, some Turkish delight and old Turkish tunes.
Baylan patisserie’s most famous dessert is such an Istanbul classic that it has been the answer to clues on local television trivia shows. The Kup Griye is a half-century-old recipe comprised of vanilla and caramel ice cream with hints of almond, and a cat’s tongue biscuit dipped in whipped cream. The patisserie itself has existed since 1923 in many different locations, but the Kadikoy branch is the oldest location, operating since 1961. “People bring their children here who bring their children who bring their children here,” explains Halil Arslan, who has been working at the shop since he was a teenager in 1988.
Cafer Erol’s candy first became famous in 1807, and his family now run half a dozen sweet shops across Istanbul. “We stick to our roots by making recipes from the Ottoman times, but also stay current with the times,” says Aykut Pehlivan, whose family now runs the stores along with the historic 1945 branch that has operated in Kadikoy since 1945. Most famous for their lokum (Turkish delight) and akide (sugar candy), Cafer Erol has expanded to many other kinds of desserts – chocolates, almond halva, marzipans and baklavas.