Asian Side, Ferry Ride, and the Best Meal Ever

Know what’s fun? Boat rides. Especially boat rides to another continent.

The day before I left Istanbul for sweet home Chicago, I decided to visit the Asian side. Mostly because the bf’s mom highly recommended a restaurant there, and I’ll travel anywhere with the promise of good food. And I got to be in Asia!

I caught the commuter ferry there, and it was delightful.

Aside from the views, which are spectacular, the air was fresh and smelled like briney honeydew. The breeze was divine on yet another sweltering Istanbul day, and the water was a cool, clear blue and staring at the waves, I knew how people fall in love with the sea. I counted a dozen of mosques nestled into the city on the 20-minute ride, and by the time we docked into Kadikoy I was floaty and blissful.

Aside from the restaurant recommendation, I also went to the Asian side for the Kadikoy Market, a produce market that goes down on Tuesdays. Just because I hadn’t been to enough markets in Spain and Istanbul. Yep, still marveled at the stands, still loved being there.

Olive Rainbow
Their gills looked like red feathers.

Kadikoy markets is mainly food, and from what I read, where all the foodies of Istanbul come to get their produce and food for the week. I love how fresh and locally sourced everything is, and reasonably priced considering. The things in the bottom right looked like pink asparagus tentacles, and the vendor didn’t know what they were called in English.

Ready for slurping.

There are a few things I won’t eat in public view: big salads and mangos because I look like a savage devouring them and bananas because it’s obscene*. Mussels are another one of them. I’m sure there are people who can pull it off with finesse, but sea water would most likely just dribble down my face and I’d probably make weird noises. Really, it’s me. But aren’t they pretty and appetizing?

On to the restaurant, Ciya Sofrasi. It’s actually a part of a Ciya complex, including Ciya Kebap and Ciya Kebap II. You can order from each establishment and eat at your table, or just one. I chose Ciya Sofrasi, with more homestyle Turkish dishes. The guy at the counter patiently described the process to me, and what each dish was–there were dozens. The cold salad bar was self-serve, and then a nice man behind numerous pots and pans of fragrant, bubbling Turkish deliciousness would serve either a half or a full portion of the hot stuff. This is what I came away with:

I really don’t even know what I was eating, except that it was incredibly delicious. I had a couple dolmeh, this yogurt salad with garlic and wheat, thyme with olive oil, lemon and garlic, and this spicy nut salad that blew my mind. Then half portions of each: eggplant casserole of some kind and meatballs with cherries.

Once I was done, they brought out some oregano tea.

Tastes just like you think it would.

This was exactly the kind of experience I wanted my whole trip to be like: fresh, delicious flavors and foods I had never tasted before in an unpretentious setting. Even the bread was awesome.

Well-played, Asian side, well-played.

*I once saw a girl on the El peel and eat a banana during the morning commute. I thought it was weird, but then I saw the way this one dude was watching her and it disturbed me enough to vow to never eat one in public.

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