For many, discovering and experiencing the flavors East Asian food is a passion no matter where in the world they happen to be. Luckily, for those seeking Asian flavors in Turkey, there has been a recent influx of more and varied flavors from the other side of the world.
The following are the newest additions of flavors and tastes imported from the East in Istanbul and Bodrum:
The most exciting newest addition to the colorful Yel değirmeni neighborhood of Kadikoy is Gangon Piknik, a sleek shop dishing up a gourmet take on the beloved bao sandwiches that hail from East Asia. Established by a team of expert chefs, Gangon Piknik is the newest venture of Gangon Mutfak, which was easily the most popular new wave food truck in Istanbul to show up at events. Now, they have a permanent location, where they are serving up their specialty, which is a variety of the steamed bun bao sandwiches with fillings such as ramen coated fried chicken, shredded beef, honey glazed sausage or their vegetarian option of falafel.
Istanbul has officially been introduced to Korean fried chicken and stir-fried rice cakes. Sopung Kore has recently opened up their fourth branch in Istanbul, this time in Bakırköy. But with spots in Kadıköy, Fatih and Başakşehir, they have already introduced Istanbullites to the delights of Korean Fried Chicken, aka KFC. Sopung has become a neighborhood favorite and has single-handedly introduced Korean cuisine to Turks. In addition to offering Korean classics, they also have a number of Italian fusion Korean dishes should you crave some with cheese. While the restaurants are not huge, the seating is comfortable and each table has a button you can push should you want service. They also have a number of Korean products and gift items on display for purchase.
Poppin' Bubble Tea & Coffee
Taiwanese bubble tea has officially arrived in Istanbul this spring with Poppin' Bubble & Coffee, conveniently located in Kadıköy's popular Moda neighborhood. The brainchild of three young Turkish entrepreneurs and high school buddies, they trained to learn how to make the "poppin boba" balls of sweetness, which are traditionally made from tapioca and served as toppings for syrup-infused iced teas. Made in house, the boba at Poppin' Bubble Tea is fruit-flavored and combined with the likes of passion fruit, litchi or peach frothy iced teas. More of a takeout type shop, Poppin' is bright and airy with a few tables outside to watch the world go by.
The newest spot in which to partake in the "poppin boba" craze is Bubble Trouble, which opened last month at the Mall of Istanbul in Başakşehir. Bubble Trouble is situated in the Mall Design District, which houses a wide variety of local brands and products and was established by influencer Buse Terim, who you may know better as being the daughter of Fatih Terim, whose football legacy includes being the manager of Galatasaray and the national team. While for some it may mean going the distance, Bubble Trouble has some amazing and extravagant fusion bubble teas and milkshakes, including my favorite involving Oreos.
Specializing in breakfast sushi and "poke bowls," dubbed the Hawaiian Sushi, at Pokemate, a breakfast place with an Asian twist in Nişantaşı, you select from a base ranging from sushi rice to zucchini noodles to create your own poke bowl. There is no meat or chicken served; however, a wide range of seafood and vegetarian toppings are available including crab, shrimp, salmon and even crunchy tofu. There are also a variety of sushi rolls and Asian starters such as truffle oil edamame salad and for dessert try the matcha tiramisu. The seating is stylish and comfortable with a light wooden theme, and there is even an indoor swing.
Housed in the Trump Shopping Center in Mecidiyekoy, Miso Ramen is a welcome addition for those seeking to slurp up Japanese noodles. The closest thing to the ramen shops in Japan in Turkey, the menu allows you to pick and choose your own ingredients such as bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, surimi and even gyoza dumplings and enjoy dining in a sit-down, stylish and comfortable restaurant.
Expat opens new Asian restaurant in Bodrum
Newly opened in Bitez this summer is Ginza Ginza, an Asian restaurant opened by a Vietnamese-American expat by the name of Victoria Zhong. Hailing from Chicago, Victoria prepares and serves up a wide variety of Asian dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, Korea and Japan and has even just gotten a brand new sushi chef. Ginza Ginza dishes up comfort food classics from the pan-Asian region such as the highly sought after pho from Vietnam and kimchi and bulgogi barbeque from Korea as well as a mango bubble tea. While certainly not fancy, it is a sit-down dining venue with seating inside and outdoors and has become the talk of the town among the expat crowd excited to welcome more flavors from Asia.