On a recent, rainy, trek around Sirkeci, I spotted this tiny little dürüm and kebap grill stationed on the road which runs perpendicular to the back entrance of the Egyptian Bazaar. Ocakbaşı, meaning to stand at the grill, offers you just that opportunity, and not a lot of other choices. There are two tables inside, and just that many outside, with a row of low stools along the grill counter. There is no menu just a sign posted on the wall offering Adana (spicy beef) Urfa (not spicy beef) and tavuk şiş (grilled chicken bits) as a wrap or a platter. Customers did happen to be eating things not on the menu though, I saw soup, chicken wings, and a grilled eggplant kebab all of which seem to be known only to the regulars.
I opted for the chicken bits in a wrap and was not disappointed. How could I be? The place was packed with noshing Turks who come not for the ambiance, it is a bit crowded and noisy, but for the food, which is cheap, delicious, and entertaining to consume if you find pleasure in meeting strangers at your shared table. My table mates were a grandfather and gran son in town on business and stopping in for a bite. They enjoyed the food but complained that the prices were much higher in Istanbul then their home town.
My wrap was succulent and juicy, not at all like the average chicken skewer which is over cooked and, subsequently, dessicated and chewy like a dog toy. Packed with tomatoes, greens, and onions, there was a strong flavor of sumak, as well as the aromas from the charcoal grill in the center of the restaurant where all the dishes are cooked. The best part was, the wrap was enough to feed two people and cost only 8 TL which is a steal for this neighborhood where prices are regularly double that of less touristic districts.
- Don’t Miss: Chicken wrap
- Best Perk: Watch your food cooked in front of you
- Average Price: 9 TL
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