The Bucket List

My friend Sarah will be leaving Istanbul this coming Tuesday, after having spent a year here for work. Although all expats talk of home in a dreamy, nostalgic fashion, once we're faced with the reality of leaving, we realize all the things we've grown accustomed to in our new homes and that we will miss and speak dreamily of once we're back home. So, Sarah made a list of things to do and see in Istanbul, before returning to the homeland for good. I've been happily tagging along for some of the adventures and last night, we braved the cold sleet for the latest one, to head to a Central Asian restaurant called Mihman, recommended by IstanbulEats, which has proved to be an outstanding source for delicious places to eat around town.

After splashing through puddles, shuffling through slush, and feeling thoroughly chilled by the wind, it was a relief to step into the warmth of Mihman's small dining room, with its stained glass and ornate chairs and light fixtures. We were ushered to the best seat in the house- a table next to a large window with a direct view on the mosque. The restaurant didn't serve wine, but we couldn't have been happier to get rid of the lingering chill and warm up with a pot of green tea instead, which came with freshly toasted almonds, dried raisins, and a delicious bread that was half-way between a brioche and a simit- buttery and light, with sesame seeds on top. We sampled a variety of different dishes, including manti, kebab, and a rice and meat dish, cooked with peppers. The manti, which at most Turkish restaurants are small ravioli-like dumplings, usually filled with meat and served with yogurt, were very different here. They were bigger and steamed- they came out in a box that looked like the dim sum boxes in Chinese restaurants, and tasted a lot like Polish pierogi.

Pre-dinner green tea with delicious bread
The whole spread- kebab, and other dishes. Mmmm!

Steamed manti with yogurt
Table with view of the mosque























Warm glow on a cold night
Rice Pudding


















All of the savory dishes left us wanting a little post-dinner sweetness. Since the restaurant didn't serve desserts, we decided to head back to our neighborhood to try another IstanbulEats recommendation- a small, local pudding shop down the street from my house. Through the light drizzle and biting cold, the half-fogged over windows of Ozkonak, seemed like a beacon guiding us to warmth and sweetness. I've been passing this shop on my new route home from work everyday and everyday the temptation to try their puddings, so enticingly displayed in the window, grew bigger.

Although the Turks all laud a pudding made with shredded chicken, we opted for the simple rice pudding. It was sweet and hit the spot, while our toes defrosted. This concluded our mid-week venture to sample the variety of cuisines that Istanbul has to offer. Sarah only has a few more days to check off her remaining items on the Istanbul bucket list. Up next? Kaymak and honey on Saturday, and then.... who knows?

And it was good...

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