Istanbul is full of restaurants, each of which has its own identity and style. It is important to find food close to your taste and restaurants that suit your lifestyle. Some have a shabby-chic air while others have elegant and distinct styles. One advantage of living in a big city is the variety it offers, allowing you to find a place where you can say, "That's my absolute favorite restaurant."
This week, I would like to talk you through two different restaurants, each with a distinct style. The first venue is Inari Omakase, the best Far East restaurant I have visited, displaying its phenomenal style through spectacular architecture. Especially in the story of Inari, the venue's namesake, where according to Japanese myths is the god of breath, rice, tea and foxes. The fox on the venue's logo is the symbol of fertility and success in Japanese culture. It is believed to be the protector of the warriors and rice stores. According to the myths, the god Inari manifests itself to the people, as either a woman or a white fox. This is where the woman's silhouette on the large wall in the back of the venue originates. Likewise, the Japanese umbrella designs, flower-shaped giant purple lamps on the ceiling and the dining table inspired by the Japanese tea rooms called "Tataki" make you feel like you've stepping into the Far East, along with a salmon-colored hue in the venue that relaxes your spirit. I admire the architect Erhan Sağır. Likewise, I truly loved the alluring menus and Spanish Interni brand thin plates that reminded me of oysters.
The manager of the venue is Hakan Aydın, an experienced and well-known name in the sector. The chef, Barlas Günebak, while young, prepared the best sushi I have ever had. In Japanese, "omakase" means the recommendation of the chef, so the menu is quite rich, and its decorative design is seriously stunning. There are some awesome options, from Tepenyaki products to the sushi, all with exotic tempting names. Do not forget to try the corn tempura if you are in the mood for a snack. Known as a kind of carpocciosu of Japan, usuzukuri can be a good starter. As for the main course, a dish called "Grouper Miso Yata," marinated grouper, gets a thumbs up. "Negimiyaki," on the other hand, is a delicious rolled steak fillet stuffed with sesame and asparagus. As for the sushi, "Foie Gras Nigiri" was the most interesting and delicious sushi I have ever tasted. It is not quite accurate to call it sushi since it is made from foie gras (goose liver) but is listed as sushi on the menu due to its shape. Tasting foie gras in this way served with caramel syrup on top was an absolutely magnificent experience. The most interesting sushi for me was "Maguro to Kinoko." You will definitely love the explosion of flavors, including mango, tuna, coconut sauce and truffle! As for the desserts, green-tea ice cream and sea-salt brownie are what I would recommend. Discover Inari first chance you get, but do not forget to make a reservation. It is very crowded, even on weekdays. You will truly love this venue with its distinct spirit, philosophy and style!
Another venue I would like to talk about is MUST, the new meeting point in Nişantaşı, one of Istanbul's most popular districts. MUST opened its doors in late December, and the venue reminds me of concept restaurants in Los Angeles. The art works on its walls, decorative pink trinkets, and a botanical garden feel, vibrant with flowers and ivies make you feel like you have just arrived in LA. Thanks to its diverse, sincere and elegant design, MUST has become one of the most popular venues in the district in a very short time. MUST, with its rich tastes from world cuisine, begins welcoming its guests early in the day.
Refashioning the neighborhood culture of Nişantaşı, the venue starts its day serving breakfast at 10:00 a.m.
MUST reveals its spirit and style with art pieces on the wall, bench-style dining tables, an elegant lounge bar and a special vaulted section. Managed by Ercan Gümüşkaya, who is widely known in the dining world, the venue is quite different from its competitors in the district. It deviates from the decorations we are acquainted with in Nişantaşı. I particularly adored the lighting in the venue, which included a lovely amount of candles. Some venues exaggerate the obscurity of dinner, leaving their guests in the dark. However, that is not the case at MUST.
I would recommend the roasted potatoes, warm shrimp (prawn), sea bass (perch) salad and the salmon gravlax from the starters in their menu, which serves rich tastes from world cuisine with the signature of chef Kadir Aytekin. They offer braised beef cheek, duck confit and black cod for the main course. The pizzas at the venue are also quite assertive. The ones served with asparagus, pate and corn stand out. As for the desserts, I would recommend clove coconut carpaccio and pumpkin tiramisu. If you like Nişantaşı, need some privacy and want to try a new venue, MUST is a good option for you. I would highly recommend that you drop in on your next visit.