Didem Senol’s path to superstar chefdom has been a unique one. After learning her trade in the kitchens of New York City, she spent five years in a small village on Turkey’s blissfully peaceful Aegean coast sourcing regional recipes and learning about localised ingredients. Her resulting cookbook, Aegean Flavours, is a must in every chic Istanbul home, and her blog and newspaper recipe column are local foodie favourites. She hit the jackpot by opening this restaurant in the trendy Karaköy docks area in 2010 – an informal, elegant establishment that could be in NYC if the decibel levels were higher – and her ever-changing seasonal menu has been bringing in the hungry hordes. Dishes are reassuringly uncomplicated: this is not a restaurant that hides its inadequacy under a smokescreen of fussy emulsions and fusion-esque potions. This is especially true with the six or seven appetisers. A regular is the sea bass carpaccio dotted with Didem’s father’s olive oil – squished against the roof of the mouth, it becomes a nutty sweet purée. These starters tee up the wow-factor mains, where Didem balances flavours as diverse as crunchy caramelised sea bass with a seasonal fruit – be it apricot, orange or fig – to draw out the fish’s sweetness. Yummy.