Turkey is well known for its fantastic street food and, in Istanbul, you could probably lay your hands on street food traditional to just about anywhere in Turkey. Whenever we visit Istanbul, one of the highlights of our time there is working our way through the variety on offer, and in October, we made our Turkish street food discovery of 2011 when we sampled and fell in love with the delights of the tantuni kebab.
But sometimes, we like to keep things simple and return to our familiar favourites. Hamsi ekmek (anchovies in bread) at Karaköy fish market certainly fits into this category, as does this tiny balık (fish) lokanta in Beyazıt. This is also a place where you come for fish in bread.
This is seafood of the crispy, battered, deep-fried variety and it’s a welcome sight after you have walked uphill, along Divanyolu from Sultanahmet.
As you trudge past the expensive restaurants geared towards the foreign tourists and pass the döner kebab stands, you do start to wonder if this little stretch of Istanbul has anything to offer the hungry wanderer on a budget.
Don’t get us wrong, we do munch our way through and enjoy a good few döner kebabs over the course of a year – we even did an ode to the döner kebab – but there are only so many you can eat on a long weekend in Istanbul when there’s so much other tasty street food out there to get your gnashers into.
These days, our trips to Istanbul must involve a visit to Beyazıt so we can catch up with a friend who recently set up a business there after a move from Fethiye. Of course we look forward to seeing our friend…but we also look forward to stopping off en route at the Cihan Derya Balık Lokanta.
You can choose from calamari, hamsi, mussels, crab meat, mackerel, whiting and more, all lightly battered and plunged into steaming hot, bubbling oil.
But our favourite – the one we always go for even though we say we’ll get something different this time – is the plump, deep-fried, battered prawns. Topped with a white sauce and chilli flakes, this is heaven in a half-bread!
Cihan Derya Balık Lokanta, Beyazıt, Istanbul
- Cihan Derya Lokanta is in the Beyazıt area of Istanbul, opposite the Beyazıt metro stop.
- Take away or eat in – there is an indoor seating area down a small alleyway just to the left.