This is my Istanbul

The things that shape how I experience the city

This is my Istanbul: Houseguests September 5, 2010


Live in a city like Istanbul, and your guestroom will get a lot of use. After very sporadic houseguestage in Ankara, I figured my guestroom in Istanbul would play host to the occasional researcher or travelling friend. Au contraire. My guestroom count is at four this summer and more than I can remember since moving in.
My guests have run the gamut from seasoned Istanbul hands to folks who’ve never been this far east before and from old friends to brand-new acquaintances. I think the visit length record is held by a university friend at somewhere approaching four weeks, although the cats I’ve been catsitting spent a solid six months or so chez moi.
I’ve been quite lucky in that I currently have a dedicated guestroom, although perhaps less lucky in that by working somewhere approaching 50 hours a week for the past year I often don’t have the most time to shepherd my tourist-trail-hopping guests around town.
I’ve worked out a fairly good system, though: I set my houseguests loose upon Sultanahmet and the other sightseeing things that visitors to the city inevitably want to see and I inevitably have already toured five times (Blue Mosque, I’m looking at you; Basilica Cistern gets a pass though because it’s just so cool), and after I get back near the city center from Distant Regions of the City, we meet up for dinner, drinks, nighttime strolling and other things that are right up my alley.
Quite accidentally, I’ve developed an informal list of places that my houseguests usually end up at when we meet up in the evenings. Some will remain Trade Secrets (Want to know my best houseguest haunts? Crash at my place for a few days), but others have definitely been mentioned on this blog before or should be in the future, including Bodrum Manti, Falafel House, Akdeniz Hatay, Dubb (protip – top floor at Dubb has stunning views of the Hagia Sofia, and it’s one of the better Indian food options in the city. Might want to make a reservation so you don’t get relegated to a lower, still-charming-but-sceneryless floor), Çiya (I think every single expat in this city has been to and is expected to highly approve of Çiya. It’s quite good, but not exactly hidden.), a fish place, and usually the Sublime Portal’s Thursday expat meetup. I am apparently a bit of a creature of habit.
Not to sound my own horn, but my houseguests and I often end up having ridiculously awesome experiences. C. came to visit in May this year; on our way back to my flat one evening we stumbled across a soap opera being filmed quite literally directly across the street from my flat. We stopped to ask the owner of the restaurant that was serving as the set which dizi it was (Ömre Bedel, apparently; it’s about a “bitter love”. Aren’t they all.) and half a minute later were ensconced smack dab in the middle of the production, looking over the shoulders of the director and sipping tea. Later, in between filming a scene of a dinner party and a scene where a man storms in to the dinner, we got pumpkin/cream dessert and chatted with the production crew. This is why my restaurateur neighbors are awesome.
When E. came to town in March of this year, we set off to Gebze, in a trip that served as the basis of my Gebze post. E. was back in town last week, and this time around we went to Istanbul Fashion Week, where we loaded up on some good swag and soaked up all the high fashion Istanbul had on offer (also the free iced coffees. It was hot out.). My houseguest S. and I ended up noshing on grilled ostrich on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. And when K. came to town, we ended up in Antakya, site of the first church in the world, for Easter services. The moral of this story is clearly that if you are my houseguest in Istanbul, unexpected but amazing things will happen. Because my Istanbul is unexpected and amazing and full of visitors.


This is my Istanbul: Bodrum Manti March 22, 2010

Filed under: Places — Rebecca @ 9:31 pm
Tags: , , ,

Fried manti!

For some reason, I never got around to trying manti the first time I lived in Turkey. Maybe it was the description – “Turkish ravioli” seemed like it could be sketchy, so I stuck to my imam bayildi and various kebaps. This was a grave mistake, and one that I’ve spent many meals rectifying this time around. Manti is delicious. Of the many manti places I’ve eaten at, the one I keep going back to, even though it’s currently ridiculously inconvenient to get to, is Bodrum Manti.
First, some background: Manti is made of noodles enveloping minced meat, usually lamb or beef, in little packets. They’re about 3/4” or 1”, depending on who’s making them. Once they’re formed, they’re boiled, and served smothered in a garlicky yogurt/tomato sauce, usually with dried mint and sumac to sprinkle on top. Sumac is a very Turkish spice not generally used in the West; Wikipedia says it’s got a lemony taste, which I guess is a fair description. Basically, manti is hot and filling and delicious.
Still, manti places are scattered across the city. What makes Bodrum Manti so awesome? Several things. First, their manti itself is really good. They have traditional manti, and then they take it to the next level: they also offer manti made with wheat dough and manti stuffed with chicken, potato, spinach or cheese. Even better tastewise, although surely pretty deadly healthwise: they have fried manti. Oh my goodness the taste explosion. If you can’t decide which kind you want, or are new to the world of manti, they’ll serve you a combination of several varieties.
After you finish your manti at Bodrum (incidentally, “bodrum” is the name of a city to the south and also means “basement”), you’ll probably be pretty stuffed. Portions are pretty generous. But the meal’s not done: they include dessert free with every entrée, and it is good. The waiters serve up a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between crunchy waffles, topped with a tart berry sauce. Once you’re done with the ice cream, it’s coffee/tea time – they make very good Turkish coffee.
Rounding out the list of things that make Bodrum Manti one of my three favorite restaurants in the country are its location, right on the waterfront in Arnavutkoy, the fact that it has free wireless, its hours (the restaurant is one of woefully few places in the city that’s open 24 hours – that’s right, I can get manti at 5am should the mood strike me) and its delivery, which sadly doesn’t extend to my current neck of the woods but which I made very good use of when I lived up at Bogazici and when I used to crash at friends’ places over in Arnavutkoy.
If you’ve visited me in Istanbul, I have taken you to Bodrum Manti. If you visit me in the future, we will go to Bodrum Manti. My mom liked it so much when she was in town, we went twice. Arnavutkoy’s not on the tourist trail, and guidebooks will likely never mention Bodrum, but Bodrum Manti is most definitely part of my Istanbul.

Bodrum Manti
Arnavutkoy Iskele Cad. 111
Also 2 locations on the Asian side
Manti TL 12-14ish (also try the piyaz [white bean salad], it’s quite good)

You can also try making manti at home (I know of one successful homemade fried manti attempt as well); this is a recipe from a decent Turkish cooking site to get you started.