Istanbul is as much about eating as it is about wandering and sightseeing. Well, at least it is for us, anyway, and, as we’re writing this post from the city right now, we’ve already had the discussion of what we’re going to eat for lunch when we go out later on. We’re staying in the Galata area of Beyoğlu again so we’re pondering a classic Turkish street food, kokoreç…
If you know us, you know we love our kokoreç and usually hunt some down wherever we are. Kokoreç in Eskişehir, kokoreç at Çiftlik Market in Fethiye…and always kokoreç in Istanbul. Usually late at night after a few drinks, in Istanbul. But, last time we were in the city in April, we tried what is very possibly the best kokoreç we’ve sampled to date. Hmm, high praise indeed!
Relishing Kokoreç In Galata
We first read about Nazmi Usta in this Istanbul Eats article way back in 2010 – and we’ve looked for him ever since, every time we come to Istanbul. He stands at the foot of Galata Tower each day and many people have raved about his superior char grilled lambs’ intestines embedded into a fresh half bread…but we never came across him. Granted, it wasn’t a concerted effort to go and hunt him down, but we thought we would stumble across him quite naturally.
And then, one bright sunny lunchtime in April while we were staying in Galata, that unmistakable magnetic aroma of sizzling kokoreç wafted along our narrow street and we knew our locally famous kokoreç guy was around…somewhere. We soon spotted him between Galata Tower and the coffee shop opposite. There was a queue of workers on lunch break and we went along to join them. We wanted to see if all the fuss about this particular kokoreç was warranted.
We ordered two yarım ekmek (half breads) and I was kindly invited to take photos as the sandwich was prepared. The half breads were hung over the white hot coals to heat through. The kokoreç, crisp and mouthwateringly charred on the outside, was light and tender in the centre. It was expertly chopped – but not as finely as previous kokoreç experiences we’ve had. These were slightly bigger chunks with more bite. Char grilled tomato and green pepper were then chopped and mixed together with Turkey’s infamous, much-loved offal before being loaded onto the warm bread and given a generous sprinkling of spicy chill flakes and kekik (oregano and thyme).
We took a spot on the wall surrounding Galata Tower and took our first bite…and yeah, it was worth the fuss. The tomato moistened the kokoreç, the pepper was a bit of extra crunch, and the scent and flavour of oregano; it all just combined so perfectly to make a genuinely memorable kokoreç ekmek.
Kokoreç In Galata – Useful Info
- We found our elusive kokoreç man standing between Galata Tower and the busy coffee shop opposite. He has a small cart, shaded by an umbrella.
- He’s there daily, in the afternoons (but he wasn’t there on the Sunday).
- Once the kokoreç is gone (and it goes quickly), he goes home – so get there around 1ish if you want to catch him.
- Our Galata kokoreç sandwiches were 5 TL each (April 2015).