The Special Istanbul Taksim Burger

If ever a snack deserves to be given it’s own blog post, it’s got to be this one. In fact, this is not even Turkish food as it isn’t available all over Turkey. As far as we know, you can only get this snack in Istanbul, but it would even be unfair to call it ‘Istanbul, Turkish food.’ We need to narrow it down even more than that. This is ‘Taksim, Istanbul, Turkish food’ and we think the snack is only available from a row of three kebab shops just off the top of Istiklal Caddesi.

So what is this special snack? Hmm, is it special? It’s certainly different! I’m referring to the Islak Burger. ‘Islak’ is the Turkish word for ‘wet.’ The Wet Burger. You can see why it aroused our interest.

Islak Burger of Taksim, Istanbul

We know you’re just itching to try one!

The exclusivity doesn’t stop there. Not content with creating and selling the phenomenon that is the Taksim Islak Burger, these three kebab kiosks add a further ingredient to tempt the tastebuds. These are no ordinary Taksim Islak Hamburgers…

Sloppy Burger With Special Sauce

Mmm, wet burgers from Istanbul

…These are Özel Soslu Islak Hamburgers – a wet burger with special sauce! Are you tempted yet? I wasn’t. What on earth is a wet burger with special sauce? Closer inspection revealed that the burgers were made up and placed in rows under lights (as you can see in the photos). The burgers are on a hole-studded metal plate so we can only assume that there is hot water underneath, causing steam to rise; hence wet burgers.

As for the özel sos – for the purposes of blog research, Barry had an özel soslu ıslak burger for his lunch one day. His description is ‘spicy, tomatoey.’ This ‘spicy tomatoey’ special sauce actually coats the outside of the bun, not the burger inside. (The burger comes wrapped in a paper serviette that soon becomes soggy). Oh yes, and ‘burger’ is a bit misleading. I’m happy to report that the meat inside is döner beef and not a cheap, processed circle of nastiness.

The Taksim Özel Soslu Hamburger was very much enjoyed by Barry (I had a half bread!). Workers on their lunch hour were also queueing to buy them so they’re popular – and why not? 2 lira per burger is a cheap lunch…and cheap enough to try, merely for the purposes of a bit of blog research.

Have you ever had an ıslak burger? If you’re familiar with them, do you know how they’re actually made? See, we are curious – even if I’m not too bothered about eating one.

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Comments

  1. Islak burgers are the best! We have great ones here in Izmit at a sloppy old diner called Piknik — they don’t call it an ‘islak’ burger, though, it’s ‘lux’. Funny to think the lux burger costs less than $2.

  2. i really love it..

  3. istanbulblogger says

    everytime I step oout of the metro exit at Taksim I head straight towards Kizilkayalar ,sit there the place full of mirrors whilst I probably have 5 of them ,my wife would eat 10 if you let her .best 10 lira spend of the day

  4. Rose – A ‘lux’ burger? Wow, that makes it better than a ‘special’ one then, we reckon! 🙂
    Yesim – I may have to try one next time. I’m starting to feel left out now.
    Istanbulblogger – FIVE?! That’s pretty good going – but they are a bargain aren’t they?!

  5. I have never heard of them yet tried one. Judging from comments though, I am missing out. Will try one when next in Istanbul.

  6. I only had a little try of Barry’s, Natalie. It wasn’t half as bad as I expected but much prefer a chunky half bread.

  7. Kizilkayalar has the original islak burger, and in my opinion you have to go into it knowing it isn’t anything remotely like an American style burger. It really is its own thing. My husband took me there on our first date, and while I wasn’t too impressed (with the burgers, not him) I have grown to love and appreciate them. My guess as to the recipe:

    -1 hamburger bun, buttered and toasted
    -1 kofte hamburger patty with lots of garlic
    -douse in tomato-garlic sauce
    -Eat quickly whilst being knocked to and fro by all of the other customers in the tiny, be-mirrored shop.

  8. Glad you clarified the burger / furure husband situation, Annie! 🙂 Thanks for the info.

  9. Yum, definitely a tasty, post-night-out-drinking snack to grab on the way out of Taksim Square! I must have eaten thousands while I lived there last year. I would actually kill for one now…

  10. It certainly seems like they’re a firm favourite Connie – a bit of cult status for the Taksim Islak Burger! We never even realised. 🙂

  11. Islak hamburger was actually invented by Kristal Büfe in Taksim in 80’s or earlier… I remind you there was no McDonald’s in Turkey back then. I first tasted it in Kristal Osmanbey branch & it was one of my favourite after school snacks 🙂

    At first the bread was toasted & crisp in Kristal version. But as demand rise they started to make more & put them into pots in order to keep them hot. As a result of evaporation in the pot the bread became moist, hence the name Islak (wet) Hamburger.

    Kristal Büfe Pangaltı branch still makes original recipe Islak hamburger.

    Kızılkayalar in Taksim became famous with its own version of Islak Hamburger. Some say there’s honey in its sauce. I’m not sure…

    That’s all for now from the History Channel 🙂

  12. Ha ha. That’s got to win top prize (not that there is one) for the most factual comment on the blog! Thanks a lot Sinan.

    Now we want to go back to Istanbul to find Kristal Büfe Pangaltı branch and eat an original recipe ıslak hamburger!

  13. Be my guest 🙂

  14. We also have “ıslak hamburger” here in Antalya. You can have nearly the same taste in “AntalyaSpor Büfesi” near the Dedeman Park Hotel in Antalya ( across the Dedeman Antalya Hotel ).

  15. Thanks for that, koalaturk. We’re heading across to Antalya in March so we may well hunt out AntalyaSpor Büfesi – just to compare and contrast between ıslak hamburger quality levels. 🙂

  16. A Tramp Abroad says

    I love street food. In my opinion, it’s the best way to explore the ‘true’ cuisine of a country.

  17. How could I have overlooked that. Next time in Istanbul: heading straight for the wet burger.

  18. We love street food too. As we’re always on a budget, it’s a great way for us to fill up on a great meal for very little cost.

    Inka, it’s looking very much like the wet burger is an absolute must. I’m thinking it’s a cult classic! 🙂

  19. Yes yes yes. You must try one and let us know what it’s like!

  20. I would not hesitate to try these….hmmm

  21. Ayngelina and Nancy, the report from Barry was that they were more than edible. It appears the other commenters have also enjoyed their hamburger experiences, too! Looks like I’m going to have to give in and try one next time. 🙂

  22. They don’t look great really, but Turkish food is generally delicious so I’ll give those burgers the benefit of the doubt!

  23. Been in Turkey heaps, but never tried these 🙂

  24. I’d have a guess and say they’re not really ‘traditional’ Turkish cuisine Angela. 🙂 They don’t look really appetising do they?

    Sophie, it was a first for us, too – even though I only tried a little bit.

  25. Marmaris Bufe has the best islak hamburger in Istanbul. They make it fresh and the bun is crispy.. I want my wet burger!!!!!

  26. @ Cem: In that case, we need to go and hunt out Marmaris Büfe. Now, if the bun is crispy, does that still make it a wet burger? (We’re very curious about this snack.) 🙂

  27. I’m so excited.. I will have some Islak Burgers tonight!! I’m moving back to the states and these burgers are a definite must have. If in Istanbul, they are a must-try food! Afiyet Olsun!!

  28. @ JD: Looks like there are a lot of ıslak hamburger fans out there. Enjoy your final ones and hope you manage to find something similar to them when you’re back in the US. Afiyet Olsun! 🙂

  29. “I’m happy to report that the meat inside is döner beef and not a cheap, processed circle of nastiness.” ????
    —————————
    What are you trying to say?

  30. Kristal Bufe in Sisli always made them as long as I can remember. The sauce is spicy and I loved it. Not sure if it is still there. I will try Taksim one and see how it compares to the taste I remember.

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