Jan 28 2013



This is the closest to Michelin dining that I have been to in Istanbul, but not many people seem to know about it as even my Turkish colleagues were wondering what this place was when I mentioned it to them. I loved Mikla and in this restaurant you will be offered an amuse bouche, petite fours (so the usual Michelin attributes) and in between a lovely meal full of creativity and using ingredients from all over Turkey. The main chef is Mehmet Gürs, who is Swedish born, but who moved to Istanbul in 1996 and since then has become a mini celebrity and won many awards for himself, for Mikla and also written some books. Mikla opened in 2005, and it is influenced by the Turkish-Scandinavian background of Mehmet, however I only felt the Turkish influence and I did not even know there was supposed to be a Scandinavian twist to the meal until after a few days later when I started reading about this restaurant. Mikla is located on the top floor of a very tall building The Marmara Pera hotel and offers beautiful views of Istanbul and you can see many mosques, the Bosphorus and other things, and this place offers a 360 degree view. You could either order a la carte but the menu only gave you a price for 3 dishes (starter, main course and desert), so you had to have 3 dishes or you could have the tasting menu. As we did not want to eat too much we did not go for the tasting menu and chose a la carte. Even though the menu was in English a lot of the things there I could not understand, and had to ask the waiter to explain what they meant. Before our meal we were given an amuse bouche which was mackerel cream with some thin dark bread toasts and was nice. After finishing this, we were presented with bread, and here in Mikla eating bread was almost like a course in itself as they brought you bread and then they brought you another plate that had Turkish oil sourced from one part of Turkey, Turkish butter sourced from another place, and Turkish soft cheese from somewhere else with some salt on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed eating bread with all these things and I thought the Turkish oil was very nice because it was so thin and much lighter than your traditional extra virgin olive oil. My dinner buddies ordered “Balık Ekmek” as their starter which according to the menu had”Crispy Sardines, Olive Oil Bread, Lemon” but in the end this was the most creative and cute dish and consisted of square-like bread biscuits with the crispy sardines in the middle, and olive oil and lemon sauce on the side to dip these into. Very unexpected and cute dish, and I absolutely loved how it looked and will remember this for a long time. I myself ordered the “Dried Tenderloin & Humus” which had salted and dried beef tenderloin, humus and antep ‘Birdshit’ paste. The reason why I ordered this was because I was very curious about the “birdshit” paste (the waiter had explained to us before that this was a pistachio type of paste, but I was still curious). The birdshit paste was savoury and indeed tasted of pistachios and I thought it was quite nice and the dried beef tenderloin was absolutely amazing, full of flavour and super soft. I have had this type of dried beef before, but this was much better than what I have had before. For the main course I saw “Whole Wheat Mantı” on the menu and I was very intrigued as manti is a Central Asian dish and consists of spiced meat served in cabbage leaves and it is one of my favourite dishes, and it turns out you eat it in Turkey as well but the cabbage leaves are replaced by dumplings and here in Mikla you could choose either vegetable or lamb shank manti and they were served with yoghurt, tomato, roasted garlic and sumac (the sauces you would usually have with kebabs in Turkey). I wanted a bit of both, so the waiter brought me 3 lamb shank manti and 2 vegetable ones and the shape of them was very pretty, and the dough was super tender and nice, the filling was great, the lamb was very tender, and I loved how they were served with the tomatoe and yoghurt sauce. Peter chose the “lamb shank” for his main course and this lamb was “Trakya Kıvırcık” and was served with smoked eggplant, stew of Kayseri sucuk (dry and spicy sausages from the city Kayseri in Anatolia) and white beans, and Peter thought it was excellent. Will had “Lamb Entrecôte” that also had a shredded lamb shank mantı (the same dish I had) and also cinnamon & tahini green lentil humus and Muğla (place in Turkey) morel mushroom. The lamb entrecote looked extremely appetizing and Will said it was super delicious. And it is just great to see Mehmet Gurs using all sorts of ingredients from different cities across Turkey, as it educates a foreigner like me and I get to know where different ingredients come from in Turkey. The boys did not have “birdshit” as a starter but they were super keen to try it (and take pictures of each other eating it) so they ordered a desert with it called “crunchy candied pumpkin, antep ‘Birdshit’ ice cream, sesame paste with grape molasses” and I went for the “Anatolian raw milk cheese and honey” and it was one of the nicest cheese dishes I have had, as the taste of the cheese was so interesting, and it was so refreshing to have other varieties apart from the usual French cheeses you would get in a restaurant and the honey was lovely and went so nice with the cheese. The middle cheese was extremely bitter and like a more bitter version of goats cheese and I absolutely loved it, but the boys thought you had to dip it into honey and then the taste was brilliant. I loved Mikla and it was amazing to have Turkish food in a refined and sophisticated atmosphere and I wish Michelin guide makes it to Istanbul and reviews this place as they do deserve a star in my view. If you go to Turkey and want to have a break from kebabs, I truly recommend this restaurant.

Location: Istanbul
Price for 3 people, no service charge and a bottle of wine: TL 635.00 (around £228)
Date: 28/01/13

Maija rated: 



The Marmara Pera, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15 34430
Mikla Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5