Weekend brunch at Western cafes, again? Chinese Dim Sum for tea? The Dim Sum-fad has been taking Singapore by storm but I’m out of the urban chic eating trends of Singapore right now. I’m into Turkish food right now after having my first Turkish dining experience at Alaturka.
Located right in the heart of Kampong Glam, this Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant which has been around for almost 8 years is perhaps one of the best-hidden gems in Bugis area. Because it’s a hidden find, it makes this restaurant a pleasurable, comfortable and cosy place to dine in without much crowd. More importantly, the simple and fresh food prepared here and the quaint, homely yet mystical Turkish decor is really appealing and intriguing for someone like myself, who have never been to Turkey before. And visiting Turkey is one of the items on my bucket list. Though I couldn’t travel to Turkey right now, but at least, I do get a feel of the Turkish food and culture here at Alaturka.
This is the private room seating area with beautifully-adorned cushioned seats in a warm and cosy corner. We had our lunch right there where we were surrounded by intricate mosaic-patterned tiles which were so uniquely Turkish. Soaked up the Turkish-Arabic ambiance present in Alaturka once you step foot into this place which instantly teleports you to another setting, another dimension. Ready for a new cultural experience?
Traditional Turkish home decor
Noticed a blue circular ceramic with a black dot right in the middle? It was one peculiar thing I noticed among the decor and later, I come to know that this circular object is actually called the Munçuk (in Turkish) or Nazar (in Arabic), an eye-shaped amulet to ward off the evil eye. Maybe I should get one of these and hang them in my bedroom for protection against anything evil so that better luck would come by. Fingers crossed.
Alaturka’s interior dining area
At Alaturka, you could dine indoors or simply go alfresco by sitting right outside the restaurant if you would like to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight. Especially, now that the haze is out, it’s really time to enjoy some fresh air outside.
It was quite hazy and hot outside so we ordered cold beverages for ourselves. One of the most highly recommended drinks is their homemade lemonade which has a perfect combination of sweet and sour taste to refresh your taste buds. A tall glass of lemonade is what we need a hot summer day. But since everyone else chose lemonade, I went for something different; I picked Turkish Apple tea. It’s not quite like the ones prepared using tea leaves contained in a tea bag. Instead, it looked something like this.
It comes in a form of granules where it could dissolve upon addition of hot water. The granules itself gives off a really nice apple fragrance when you pinch it between your fingers to break it down into fine scented sediments and bring it close to your nose.
The owner of Alaturka,Nafiz Bozkurt, has kindly served us some of the highly recommended Turkish dishes which are their must-try dishes if you’re dining here. For appetizers, we had Meze Tabagi, an assorted platter of popular mezzes like hummus, babakamus, shakshuka, patlican salata, ezme, potato salad and dolma, served with lavash bread. Meze refers to a small selection of dishes. In this case, the Meze Tabagi is a platter of dips or sides which is usually eaten with bread. I especially love their freshly -made creamy hummus which has this nice aromatic herb flavour. I guessed it could be the ground cummin or Tahini that gives this hummus a flavourful kick.
If you’re new to Arabic or Turkish food, here’s the breakdown for each side dishes served on the platter. Based on the ingredients listed below, you will also notice that there are common ingredients used like eggplant,lemon juice,yoghurt and olive oil which are also essential ingredients to Mediterranean food. Just like what Nafiz had explained to me when I asked about Turkish cuisine. It has some influence from Mediterranean cuisine which is well-known for its use of heart-healthy ingredients like fresh vegetables,fruits,grains and beans.
Mashed Middle Eastern chickpeas blended with olive oil, Tahini, cumin, lemon juice and salt
Roasted Eggplant with roasted garlic dip.
Tomato-based dip with deep fried eggplant,potatoes,zucchini,green peppers and garlic
Eggplant purée mixed with yoghurt, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice
Tomatoes,spring onions, red pepper, chili pepper mixed with tomato paste, lemon juice, and olive oil.
A stuffed vegetable dish. Alaturka’s version of dolma : Steamed spiced rice wrapped with vine leaves.
The lavash bread, which comes together with the Meze Tabagi, is actually a large balloon bread topped with sesame seeds. It has this soft crisp on the toasted side of the bread that goes so well with the dips when eaten warm. I would this is a great appetizer or starters for 4 to 5 people.
Ekmek breads with Haydari
Homemade Turkish bread with mixed cucumber and yoghurt dip.
The Haydari is a nice blend of sourish Middle Eastern yoghurt with refreshing cucumber that helps to balance out the sourness in the yoghurt.
Eggplant stuffed with assorted vegetables and spices and topped with melted cheese.
Imam Bayildi, which literally means ‘ the holy man has fainted’, is a great option for vegetarians. It’s also one of my favourite dishes at Alaturka. There’s actually a folktale behind this dish about a Turkish priest who swooned with pleasure after eating this dish prepared by his wife.
I,too, almost fainted out of blissfulness the moment I tasted the soft melted cheese with mouth-watering warm braised eggplant simmered with a fragrant sauce. This dish has to be eaten warm so that the flavours of the onions, eggplant, garlic, and tomatoes are all woven perfectly together.
A traditional Turkish dish consisting of skewered minced lamb and beef marinated with traditional Turkish spices, Turkish flatbread, brown rice, and mixed vegetables.
According to Nafiz, this is one of their in-house Turkish chef’s signature dishes which also happen to be Nafiz’s favourite Turkish dish. If you’re a meat-lover, you would definitely dig into this.
An indulgent selection of lamp chop, minced lamb and beef meatballs, chicken kebab with rice and mixed vegetable served on a traditional Turkish plate. This is a king-sized dish fit for two to three people. Another Alaturka specialty dish to satisfy the one who hunger for meat. I’m not a meat-type of person but I really like the chicken kebab as it tasted really tender and delicious.
Turkish Fitto pastry topped with pistachios
This is a sweet Turkish pastry made with layers of phyllo filled with chopped walnuts. The crispy and flaky texture of the pastry is what makes this dessert quite favourable. If not for its filling which is a tad too sweet for my liking, I would certainly be back for more.
I was so glad that the meal ended off on a sweet note with this dessert called Kunefe. And this decadent Turkish dessert is what beckoning me to come back to Alaturka. This fine vermicelli-like pastry baked with cheese and sugar syrup has swept me off my feet. It didn’t look appealing at first as I thought I was going to taste blend vermicelli with double cream. But Kunefe took me by surprise with its crunchy, buttery and caramelized taste, not forgetting the melted cheese that is embedded within it. It’s like eating a slice of western butter cake except that it’s crunchy and super fragrant when coated with a layer of cream. Say a toast to whoever invented this dessert!
A cup of strong Turkish black coffee to wake me up from a beautiful dream I had with Kunefe.
Special thanks to Streetdirectory and Alaturka for the pleasant invite.
Turkish and Mediterranean Restaurant
16 Bussorah Street
Phone: 6294 0304
Operating Hours : 12.00 pm to 11.00 pm
Last order: 10.30 pm