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Islak Hamburger – The Taksim Wet Burger Experience

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So what is this special snack I’m about to tell you about? Hmm, is it special? It’s certainly different! I’m referring to the Islak Hamburger.

Islak‘ is the Turkish word for ‘wet.’ Or ‘damp’. Or ‘sloppy’.

You get the idea, this is a Wet, Damp, Soggy Burger.

A batch of around 12 'Wet Burgers' on display above a pink sign reading 'Taksim Islak Hamburger'.
The famous Taksim Square ıslak hamburger

You can see why it aroused our interest…

If ever a snack deserves to be given it’s own blog post, it’s got to be this one.

When we first wrote this article, the Islak Hamburger couldn’t really be classed as ‘Turkish food‘ as it wasn’t available all over Turkey.

As far as we know, back in 2010, you could only get this snack exclusively in Istanbul. But it would even be unfair to have called it ‘Istanbul, Turkish food.’

We had to narrow it down even more than that…

Back then, this was ‘Taksim, Istanbul, Turkish food’ and we think the snack was only available from a row of three kebab shops just off the top of Istiklal Caddesi.

The exclusivity didn’t stop there…

Not content with creating and selling the phenomenon that is the Taksim Islak Burger, those three kebab kiosks added a further ingredient to tempt the taste buds.

These were no ordinary Taksim Islak Hamburgers…

Another view of the Islak Hamburger display reveals that they contain a special sauce.
With special sauce

…These were Özel Soslu Islak Hamburgers – a wet burger with special sauce!

Are you tempted yet? I wasn’t.

What on earth are wet hamburgers 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 above).

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 was ‘spicy, tomatoey.’

This spicy tomato paste actually coats the outside of the soft bun, not the burger inside. The burger comes wrapped in a paper serviette that soon becomes soggy.

The Taksim Özel Soslu Hamburger bun was very much enjoyed by Barry. I had a döner kebab half bread!

Workers on their lunch hour were also queueing to buy them so they’re popular – and why not?

A wet burger is a cheap lunch…and cheap enough to try, merely for the purposes of a bit of blog research.

Nowadays, the islak burger is available in many more places around Turkey. Especially since the famous American chef and author Anthony Bourdain ate one on a TV visit to Istanbul, thereby introducing them to more foreign tourists.

Have you ever tried this much-loved Turkish street food? And, 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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Ilke

Monday 23rd of June 2014

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.

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 24th of June 2014

Not sure the Taksim ones are very spicy Ilke- but they are then oddest, loveliest snack. :)

Anonymous

Monday 17th of March 2014

"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?

Turkey's For Life

Monday 17th of March 2014

We're not fans of processed meat - as the sentence more than hints at - and the ıslak burger was better quality than we envisaged. :)

Turkey's For Life

Saturday 9th of March 2013

@ 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! :)

JD

Saturday 9th of March 2013

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!!

Turkey's For Life

Sunday 21st of August 2011

@ 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.) :)

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