Will Istanbul have a Camden Town, too?

ARDA SAYINER @ardasayiner
Will Istanbul have a Camden Town, too?

The alteration in Karaköy, Istanbul is truly promising. The transformation of historic but worn-out buildings into living places is very exciting. I anticipate that Karaköy will resemble Camden Town in London in the future with its cafes, tables on the streets, street musicians, underground parties thrown in historic buildings, and non-stop, 24-hour music. Needless to say, this transformation should not be limited to food and beverage venues only. Opening secondhand booksellers, musical instrument shops, modest clothing shops, silverware stands, art galleries and shops for collectibles might create a genuine bohemian setting in this neighborhood.

The alteration in the neighborhood is merely limited to hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants for now. The most popular dining venue is Colonie. The owners, Yücel and Gülin Özalp, who are also the creators of one of the fine dining classics in Istanbul, Topaz, name the concept of the venue as neo-bistro. It is elegant but not arrogant. It is cozy and cool. My favorite snack in this restaurant with Italian delicacies is sweet shrimp tempura. I recommend the place for delicatessen shopping during the day and as a place to have lunch, but it is way too noisy and crowded if you are looking for a tranquil dinner. You can have your dinner elsewhere and go back to party where there is a DJ at nights. If you are in the mood to have tea after your lunch, Dem is the best place there with 60 different types of tea. My favorite tea is Pu-erh, which means "trousers" in Mandarin. Named after a Chinese legend about tea pickers who hide the best tea leaves in their trousers, this tea is a source of health in the strictest sense. If you are a coffee addict but not one much for tea, the ideal place for you is Karabatak offering Julius Meinl brand coffees on tables spread on the street. It is a meeting place for authors. I would recommend Rudolf for dinner, which is a nice restaurant falling into the category of fine dining. The restaurant inside Hotel 10 Karaköy, the first branch in Turkey of the world famous Morgan Hotels chain, is an ideal place for people who would like to have a restful and pleasant dinner and converse with each other. My favorite dish here is goose liver with pomegranate sauce. Served with shredded dough, this recipe is a successful sample of fusion cuisine. The roof bar of the same hotel called Sky Terrace, is also a place to have a peaceful evening. Karaköy offers choices for everybody with its cafés, bars and restaurants. Included in the urban transformation project of Karaköy, where nice venues display themselves among the worn-out buildings, will be a Camden Town of Istanbul in five years' time in my judgment.


If you want to take a journey through nostalgic fashions in Istanbul, you need to visit Levon Kordonciyan's workshop in Harbiye. Numerous figures from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to officials of the Foreign Ministry, from Oscar winning celebrities to the Turkish beau monde owed their elegance to tuxedos, suits and frocks made by Kordonciyan. The Armenian Kordonciyan family has been serving their customers for four generations and they sew tailor-made suits with special touches today. This long-established tailor created the first tuxedo brand in Turkey and they have their origins in Pera. When you set foot in the historic workshop in Harbiye, the expert hand gestures, knowledge of fabrics, the manner of taking measurements and sewing of Levon Kordonciyan and his team make you feel that you are in the best hands in the city. If you also want to witness the magic of the Kordonciyan family's tape measure, I would advise you to get an appointment well beforehand. I am sure you will get addicted both to the tailor-made designs and nice conversation with Levon Kordonciyan, the winner of many awards.

THE TASTES AND SMELLS OF HISTORY I had a chance to visit the CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel in Taksim Gümüşsuyu last week. I was simply mesmerized by the history of the hotel with beautiful views of the Bosphorus Bridge to Topkapı Palace. The building was built as a mansion for the Italian ambassador in the 19th century and after World War I. Elizabeth Tschumi, the Swiss spouse of Tevfik Pasha came up with the idea of converting the mansion into a hotel and the hotel was opened in 1930. The hotel where Atatürk, King Edward VIII of Britain and the Turkish prime minister of the time, Adnan Menderes, stayed, and author Yahya Kemal Beyatlı lived there for 16 years, was demolished in 1986. The land of the historic hotel had been vacant for a long time due to a variety of political and economic reasons and the Park Bosphorus Hotel opened there in 2013.

The architectural design of the hotel, where you can stay in luxurious suits with Bosphorus views and Bulgari products, is a mixture of Ottoman and European styles. Each floor of the hotel is named after an Ottoman sultan and the attire of that sultan is on display on that floor. The rooms on each floor are also numbered in accordance with the respective sultan's year of birth. I found it interesting and pleasant. A favorite part of the hotel is the IZAKA restaurant on the terrace. You can taste a selection of delicacies from the Far East, Greek and Turkey at IZAKA, which means "taste" in Ottoman, while looking out over the Bosphorus. I strongly recommend the turbot and crumpets in thick, sour cherry syrup. The famous cocktail served in the bar is called Berry Pump, which is vodka infused with pomegranate peel, blackberry juice and served with linden leaves and rose petals. It seems that the comfortable dining tables around the open pool, open air and the central location of the hotel will make IZAKA a most favorite place this summer. Hezarfen, located on the ground floor of the hotel, is a comfortable lounge that can be used throughout the day. You should definitely try the shishas made of fresh fruits in private boxes. There are so many reasons for you to visit the Park Bosphorus such as the Canadian maple syrup pancakes served at breakfast, the Spa, where you can get rubbed down with a coarse bath-glove soaked in Turkish coffee and the boutique patisserie. I would like to compliment the hotel manager, Bahri Şahin and all of his staff for reflecting the historic value of Park Hotel in such a rich way. Three most popular restaurants of the week: 1) Bosniak in Nispetiye

2) Cantinery in Levazım

3) Tapasuma in Çengelköy

Three most popular venues of the week:

Gazebo in Yeniköy

Vue in Yeşilköy

Mirror on Bağdat Street

Three most popular brand hotels of the week: St. Regis in Nişantaşı

Ajia in Beykoz

The Cave in Cappadocia

Three brand persons you should follow this week: Nastassia Çoşkunseven, blogger

Elif Edes Tapan, gourmet chef

Hakan Kabil, DJ

Three events not to miss next week: April 30 International Jazz Day, Burak Bekdikyan concert in Istanbul

April 27 to May 5, Istanbul Open Tennis Tournament

April 26, Last day of the İzmir Book Fair

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