A Taste of Istanbul in Durban-Sofra Istanbul
There are many reasons I travel and each adventure leaves me longing for the places I have been to.The biggest reminder of past travels for me personally is the Food I ate.Many moons ago while I was living in London,I got to visit Istanbul.I knew a bit about Turkey as I had Turkish friends and I had eaten some rather delicious food.But nothing could really prepare me for the feasts that awaited me in Istanbul. I came back to London a few kilos heavier and cravings for Turkish food ,Apple Tea and singing along to Tarkan and the famous “Kiss Kiss” song.
The best way to describe Turkish food is that it is a beautiful mix of Greek,Arab,Indian,Chinese and European cuisines.Located in both the Asian and European continents Istanbul is most defo a foodie hub.The markets are filled with fresh ingredients on every corner not forgetting the food carts all over the city selling the most delicious street food that I can not describe.The spices used in Turkish cooking is aromatic and flavoursome filled with fresh and dried herbs very different to Indian spices used for cooking.Mealtimes consists of mezze platters of freshly baked bread ,,relishes ,pickles and olives.Now that is my kind of meal.The warm Apple Tea is so comforting and tastes liked heated Apple juice mind you my local Turkish Kebab shop in London gave all customers Apple Tea while we waited for our orders.
So when I think of Turkey, Istanbul my memories are happy ones and most centre around food.
For years I kept thinking about and craving Turkish food,so when last year I got an email announcing the opening of a Turkish Eatery in Durban I was over the moon.There are a number of amazing Durban food spots around the city but there was no Turkish or Arab eateries around.
All I could think about was those tasty grilled meats served with freshly baked breads all those fresh side accompsniments.Last year was a rollercoaster of a year for me and sometimes a good meal cooked with love made me feel miles better.
Sofra Istanbul is situated in the food court of the Pavillion Shopping centre in Durban.So when I had a break Mum and I headed there to taste Istanbul in Durban.The store has limited inside seating but there is ample seating on the outside in the food court.Walking inside Sofra Istanbul ,I felt transported back to Istanbul seeing the decor ,photos of a Turkish family on the walls to the music playing in the background and not forgetting the iconic Doner Kebab on rotation.For a moment I pictured myself in a small street eating at a place the locals would eat at.Trust me those are the best places to eat at and the prices are just as great.
All my senses were in Istanbul and I wanted to see and take pics and eat everything.Getting things like decor and atmosphere spot on and authentic is hard to do but the owners of Sofra Istanbul have captured Istanbul in Durban beautifully.
An email arrived in my inbox announcing the opening of a Turkish Eatery in Durban.Instantly my mind took me back to my time in Istanbul and all the delicious food I ate there.
We were welcomed by the delightful Zohra ,the owner of husband wife duo behind Sofra Istanbul, who explained the menu and the pastries on display.Sofra Istanbul is a Turkish Grill and Bakery where everything is freshly made every day in store and yes you can see your food been prepared and it does take some time that is because everything is made to order.
The chef is from Turkey and is the uncle of the owners.He does look like a typical Turkish chef and he defo knows his food.Friendly and patient staff are on hand to take your orders and were especially patient as I could not make up my mind what to eat.
The menu is not too large but there is something for all including vegetarians and it is halaal certified.I wanted to eat everything so opted for the mixed grill platter for 2 (R260).The platter consisted of Chicken and Lamb Sharwarma meats ,Adana kebabs,Lamn Shish,Chicken Shish as well as a Lahmacun(turkish pizza) all served with salads ,chips and rice.Everything was well seasoned and had their own unique flavour and taste.Mum had the Lentil soup which was the special of the day and is a speciality of Turkish cuisine coupled with a Gozleme which is a Turkish flatbread with Spinach and cheese.I tasted mum’s soup it was so comforting and lightly spiced which she and I throughly enjoyed with a splash of fresh lemon juice.During our meal with sipped on Aryan which is a cold savoury yoghurt based drink mixed with salt.Aryan is generally had with your main meal.It is the perfect and refreshing accompaniment to the meal.To me it reminded me of a Salt Lassi that is part of Indian cuisine.
We ended off our Turkish delight with traditional Turkish Coffee and Baklava.Now trust me when I say I have eaten loads of Baklava from around the world and most are sickly sweet drenched in syrup but this delicious morsels were buttery , crispy , filled with nuts and drenched in a sugar syrup that was just perfect.The coffee is served beautifully but is very strong.Mum a coffee drinker opted for the Apple Tea instead as the coffee was so strong.I could not finish my meal so I asked for my meal to be packed up so I could have it at home.That evening I was still full from lunch and I had my Turkish Food feast the next day of breakfast.And trust me I savoured every morsel of my meal.
Will we be back YES ! I often struggle with where to eat when I shop at the Pav but now I have found my spot.There are daily chef specials and the eatery does do catering for private functions.So next time you are in the area go EAT at Sofra Istanbul.
Have you eaten Turkish Food ? Do you have any favourites ?
Be Inspired !
Ps Mum and I were hosted here but as always my opinions are my own.And I did have a truly Turkish food experience in Durban.