A restaurant worth crossing the continents for. This won’t immediately be apparent as Çiya, only a few streets away from the ferry port in Kadiköy, is unassuming in appearance and most of clientele look as if they’ve only crossed the road to get there. Which they have.
Popular with local workers who come here for lunch, Çiya serves up Anatolian cooking with nuance and sophistication. There are in fact two Çiyas – Çiya Kebapçi, a meat joint with a dizzying array of kebabs, and Çiya Sofrasi, the one I’m talking about, which serves the rarer rural specialities.
Anatolia’s assimilation of culinary traditions from neighbouring countries is evident in Çiya’s selection of unusual tasting stews, meat and vegetable dishes that tend to be accompanied by light sauces which have powerful, herby tastes. Desserts are equally unusual, including creamy puddings with the odd surprising savoury ingredients, and candied fruit.
The Anatolian chief chef comes from Gaziantep and includes many specialities from that area in his cooking. Rather than try to navigate the bewildering and alien choices try asking the helpful staff to bring a tasting selection.