Next to the beautiful Church of Christ in Chora in the west of the Old City, Asitane is on the lower level of the Kariye Hotel. In a smartish, formal setting, the restaurant serves up classic Ottoman saray (palace) cuisine. However, Ottoman cooks prided themselves on never writing anything down. There is a famous anecdote told of the pastry chef of a visiting French royal who met his Turkish counterpart in the imperial kitchens and hoped to pick up a recipe or two. As they began talking the Frenchman pulled out his measuring spoons, weight and scales and notebook, aiming for a certain precision of information exchange, whereupon the Turk seized them and threw them out of the nearest window in disgust, pointing out that cooking is an art dependent on the constant application of finely-tuned sensitivities and judgments, not a question of robotically following a set of instructions. Consequently, the chefs at Asitane, Feriye and Tura, the three Ottoman restaurants in this selection, spend as much time scouring historical accounts of imperial feasts as sourcing ingredients. On the menu at the time of writing, for example, was a recreation of dishes served up at the circumcision feast of one of Süleyman the Magnificent’s sons, including almond soup and meats stewed with fruits and seasoned with cinnamon and honey. The starter selection included minced meat-stuffed melon – a dish that dates from 1539 – and cinnamon liver patties – a palace creation from 1695.