Friday, September 4, 2009

Fürreyya Galata Balıkcısı, İstanbul, Turkey

After attending a wedding in Scotland, Tamar and I took off for six days in Turkey for some much needed rest and relaxation. Our base was in İstanbul, where we took the time to see the city while tasting our way across its many neighbourhoods.

One evening, we took a walk from our hotel up towards the Galata Tower for an evening in Beyoğlu, as vibrant an urban area as I've ever seen. Before my trip, I had been regularly following the excellent Istanbul Eats blog, and after reading their review, we wanted to check out Fürreyya Balıkcısı (Fürreyya Fish House), which lies in the shadow of the tower. Upon our arrival, we sat at one of the tiny restaurant's two tables, underneath their red and white striped awning.

We were enthusiastically waited upon by Necati, a local university student who was eager to practice his English while explaining the menu. We opted for the kalamar (calamari) and balık dürüm, a fish wrap. The food preparation was done slowly and with care. The amazingly fresh seafood was cut and fried to order in the open kitchen with each ingredient lovingly transformed from its original state to an individual component on the final plate. While we waited, Necati engaged with us in conversation, exchanging anecdotes about our respective hometowns while he provided us with recommendations on what to do with our time in the city.

Our kalamar arrived first, and while unspectacular to look at, it was without a doubt the best that either of us had ever tasted.

Each ring was light and crispy, without even a hint of the chewiness or fishiness that often plagues frozen North American versions of this dish. The plate was garnished with a pair of cold sauces, one creamy yogurt-based sauce and a simple tomato sauce which provided contrasts in both temperature and flavour.

Next to arrive was our wrap. It consisted of fried strips of incredibly fresh fish, perfectly caramelized onions, and greens, wrapped up in a lavaş, a thin tortilla-like wrap, which was lightly toasted until it formed a slightly crisp shell. Each component in this wrap was expertly executed, and it was one of our food highlights of our trip.

Necati offered us tea, even though it wasn't on their menu,. When we accepted, he cheerfully went to the shop next door to procure us two glasses, without charge. Over our tea, we exchanged contact info with our waiter, and even made promises to become Facebook friends.

Buoyed by our meal and experience, we left Fürreyya Balıkcısı and wandered our way through this magical city, eventually crossing the Galata Bridge on the walk back to our hotel.

Fürreyya Balıkcısı is located at 2 Serdar-ı Ekrem Sokak in Istanbul. It can be reached by phone at (0212) 252 4853.


Knatolee said...

I loved Turkey when we visited in 1995. I want that kalamar!!!!

alauna said...

yum, that calamari looks delicious. you and your travels - such good food!