Musa Dağdeviren has been banging the drum for Turkish cuisine for more than 25 years with his restaurants, located on the same street on the Asian side of Istanbul, attracting foodies from across the world. Born in the Gaziantep province of south east Turkey, Dağdeviren’s interest in food began at an early age, helping out at his uncle’s bakery as a child, and eventually led him to open a humble kebab, lahmacun and pide restaurant called Çiya in Istanbul in 1987. The original restaurant is still going strong today alongside a second outlet nearby, but it is Çiya Sofrasi, which opened in 1998, that perhaps best encapsulates Dağdeviren’s passion for his country’s cuisine.
The daily changing menu takes diners on a winding journey through traditional regional dishes from Anatolia to Mesopotamia, many of which are in danger of extinction. Sour lamb chops, a speciality from Dağdeviren’s home province, are marinated in quince, pepper paste, spices and pomegranate juice, while curd wrapped in Swiss chard hails from Bayburt. Desserts are equally eclectic with dishes such as tomatoes combined with almond, sesame and thick cream. Set over two floors with functional wooden tables and plain floor tiles, the simple restaurant is far from luxurious, but is rich in atmosphere with chefs in white hats working in the open kitchen and customers helping themselves at the colourful salad bar.
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