Kuala Lumpur, IMO, has the best wantan mee, chee cheong fun, rice congee and dim sum in Malaysia, when it comes to Cantonese breakfast foods - the other major food cities in the country like Penang, Ipoh and Malacca don’t even come close in terms of taste and quality.
But there’s just so much Cantonese one can eat if one is staying beyond a week in KL. So, this morning, we decided to go Turkish.
My love affair with Turkish food started way back in 1994, when Gladys Chee, the proprietress of Casa Bom Vento, one of my favourite restaurants in Singapore, got me to join the Singapore-Turkish Friendship Association, of which she was the president. What followed in the subsequent years was a whole raft of activities, including epicurean trips to Turkish eateries in Singapore, and cooking classes. We never looked back ever since. I absolutely adore Turkish food.
Here in Kuala Lumpur, 8-year-old Turkish Cafe Istanbul, the brainchild of Turkish expat, Deniz Alkoch, and his wife, serves out a plethora of Turkish eats from 10am on weekdays and 9am on weekends. It’s a very busy restaurant and very, very popular among the local KL-lites.
Our spread this morning included 𝙜𝙤𝙯𝙡𝙚𝙢𝙚 - Turkish flatbreads stuffed with spinach and feta; 𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣 - a Turkish breakfast speciality, which is prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs; fried eggs with 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙪𝙠, a spicy Turkish sausage; and 𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙖𝙧𝙖 𝙗ö𝙧𝙚ğ𝙞 - deep-fried filo pastry rolls filled with cheese.
Chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, together with variety of dips: cheeses, black and green olives, honey, fig jam, and even a chocolate spread, were laid out, as one expects at a Turkish breakfast spread.
These were served alongside 𝙖ç𝙢𝙖 and sesame-studded 𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙞𝙩, the circular Turkish breads. Very light, moist & fluffy versions here - more Japanese than European, in fact: perhaps a nod to local Malaysian tastes.
𝙎𝙞𝙜𝙖𝙧𝙖 𝙗𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙞 - crisp, deep-fried Turkish rolls filled with cheese. These were pretty addictive.
I like drizzling honey (or any sweet condiments) on 𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙖𝙧𝙖 𝙗𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙞, as the sweetness seemed to accentuate the salty-richness of the soft cheese filling.
I find 𝙜𝙤𝙯𝙡𝙚𝙢𝙚 irresistible, especially the lighter breakfast version which has thin, crisp pastry crusts that shatter at the lightest bite to yield delicious, savoury spinach and feta cheese filling within.
Menemen - Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes & peppers. This popular breakfast staple was named after the Turkish market town of Menemen, as the dish was supposedly first cooked by Cretan Turks who came to the Menemen district of Izmir.
The version here was absolutely delish.
Turkish 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙪𝙠 with eggs (𝙨𝙪ç𝙪𝙠 𝙮𝙪𝙢𝙪𝙧𝙩𝙖) was fantastic - 𝙨𝙪𝙘𝙪𝙠 is a spiced beef sausage flavoured with cumin, salt, paprika and pepper flakes. Sliced and pan-fried, the sausages rendered a heavily-spiced oil that infused the fried eggs with their intense, smokey flavours.
The Turkish word for breakfast is kahvalti (meaning “before coffee”) as, traditionally, the Turks only drank coffee in the afternoon. So, Turkish breakfasts are inadvertently washed down with black tea.
I need to come back here again to try out the lunch and dinner options.
Turkish Cafe Istanbul
LG-08 Glo Damansara, 699, Jalan Damansara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603-7731 1644
10am to 10pm Mon-Thu, 10am to 11pm Fri, 9am to 11pm Sat, and 9am to 10pm Sun.