Top 10 Things to Eat in Istanbul

So you have a layover in Istanbul, or maybe you’re visiting Turkey for the first time and have no idea where to start… never fear! Our Turkish insiders at Traveling Spoon have some sage advice on where to go, and more importantly, what to eat! We proudly present, the Top 10 Things to Eat in Istanbul:


Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

Top 10 Things To Eat in Istanbul

1. Menemen

Menemen is a delicious Turkish take on scrambled eggs. A breakfast staple, cooks combine sautéed onions and green peppers with tomatoes, a sharp cheddar cheese, and of course, eggs, mixed with ground red pepper. The dish is named after the Menemen district of İzmir on the country’s western coast, where tomatoes have been grown since the 1920s.

Try searching Bebek Kahve (Bebek), Mehtap Cafe (Emirgan), and Kale Çay Bahçesi (Rumelihisarı) to order some of the best menemen in Istanbul!

Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

2. Karniyarik

Karnıyarık, which literally translates to “split belly” in Turkish, is baked eggplant stuffed with minced beef, sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and Turkish spices. Easy to make and absolutely delicious, it can also be served as a vegetarian version called Imam Bayildi (which translates to, “the Imam fainted”).


Photo credit: Traveling Spoon

3. Mezeler

In Turkish cuisine, the mini appetizer dishes that accompany pre-meal wine and drinks are called Mezeler. These mezeler are  brought out on huge platters to each table and diners can choose which selections they want, served both hot and cold. One of our favorites? Broad beans in olive oil (Zeytinyağlı Bakla).

In Istanbul, some of the best mezeler can be found in the Beyoğlu District, at the Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi and Münferit restaurants.


Photo credit: Traveling Spoon

4. Iskender Kebab

Iskender Kebab is thinly sliced beef or lamb served in tomato sauce, accompanied by Turkish pide bread, yogurt, and grilled vegetables on the side. One of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Istanbul is the Bursa Kebapçısı, also in Beyoğlu.


Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

5. Adana Kebab

Adana Kebab is a traditional Turkish meal that takes its name after Adana, a city in southeastern Turkey. It’s made from lamb meat that is combined with spicy green peppers and ground red pepper molded onto a skewer and grilled over live charcoals.

The Adana Sofrası Ciğer ve Kebap Salonu in Beşiktaş and the Adana Yüzevler in the Etiler District are both great places to try for this dish!

Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

6. Manti

Manti is Turkey’s version of mini ravioli. The dish is comprised of hundreds of tiny pieces of pasta stuffed with ground beef and onions, then topped with yogurt, red pepper, olive oil and garlic sauce. Incredibly delicious, this is by far one of the most labor-intensive dishes to make in Turkey! Some locals love to try it with fresh mint on top.

Casita Mantı, a chain, makes delicious ravioli in Nişantaşı (Şişli) and Bodrum Mantı in Arnavutköy is also fantastic.

Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

7. Baklava

Baklava is a pastry made from layers of incredibly thin phyllo dough sheets that are filled with nuts and spices and then drenched in syrup, and often topped with pistachios. One of the first foods that comes to mind when people think of Turkish cuisine, the baklava in Istanbul doesn’t disappoint. Try it everywhere, and try it often, as each restaurant and street vendor has a different take on this mouthwatering traditional dessert.

Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

8. Lahmacun

Lahmacun is a flat and crispy pizza-like bread topped with minced beef, onions, tomatoes and sprinkled with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. A common appetizer, it is cheap and delicious–available on every street corner for a snack while exploring the city!


Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

9. Pide

Kiymali and Kaşarlı Pide are hand-tossed Turkish pizzas or flatbreads topped with cheese and ground beef and traditionally made in brick-fired ovens. Baked in traditional “boat-like” shapes, pides are absolutely delicious, brushed with olive-oil and served with bubbling hot cheese.


Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

10. Dolma

Another one of those dishes that first comes to mind in Turkey, Dolma are traditionally mince meat-stuffed grape vine leaves. But some cooks can make dolma from eggplants, squash, or bell peppers too, often adding pine nuts, rice pilaf and other spice into the mix!

Photo credit: Wikipedia under Creative Commons License

A big thank you to to our Turkish host Berhan for sharing her local insights on the best food to try in Istanbul. With her tips, you are well on your way to discovering how to explore Istanbul’s food scene like a local.

Interested in tasting some of these local delicacies made by home cooks instead of restaurants on your next visit to Turkey?

Try dining with Berhan and learn her mother’s family dolma recipe

Book with Ipek and Nuray and taste some of their mouthwatering homemade baklava

Love and Happy Traveling,

The Traveling Spoon Team

Top 10 Things to Eat in Istanbul

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Chicken Pad Thai Recipe

Aoy at her beautiful, riverside home and restaurant

Our last recipe from host Aoy this week features authentic Chicken Pad Thai. Easy to prepare, this recipe is a great one to add to any chef’s Thai cooking repertoire. Aoy’s passion for making Thai dishes shines through in her detailed recipes– make sure you try her fried pork and fried spring roll recipes too!

Read on for her recipe on how to make delicious Chicken Pad Thai (Pad Thai Sai Kai).

Aoy’s Pad Thai Kai Sai is bursting with flavor

Aoy’s authentic chicken pad thai recipe will not disappoint. Served with bean sprouts and Chinese chives and topped with peanuts, this staple of Thai cuisine has a subtle mixture of flavors that will have your guests coming back for second and third helpings!

Chicken Pad Thai (Pad Thai Sai Kai)


1 tsp. shallots, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 pound rice noodles
1/3 pound chicken breast or thighs, cut into small slivers
2 tbsp. pickled white radish, chopped
1/3 tsp. ground dried chilies
1/3 pounds tofu, cut into small slivers
1 egg
1 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 1/2 tbsp. Chinese chives (can use scallions if chives are not available)
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts, coarsely ground
8 tbsp. cooking oil


Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a frying pan and sauté garlic and shallots. When they’ve browned lightly, add sugar and fish sauce, then noodles with just enough water to soften them.

Fry the mixture, turning constantly with spatula to prevent sticking. Then move the noodles to the side of the pan or remove from pan.

Put 3 tbsp. oil into the pan again. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken, pickled white radish, tofu, and dried chilies. Add noodles back in and mix thoroughly. Set the mixture aside on a plate.

Reheat the pan and add 2 tbsp. cooking oil. When heated, break an egg into the pan and scramble with a spatula, spreading the egg in a thin layer on the pan. When finished, add the noodle and chicken mixture back in and mix it all together.

Add lime juice or alternative, half of the bean sprouts, and the Chinese chives or scallions. Mix together.

Spoon mixture onto plates and sprinkle with ground peanuts. Serve with the remainder of the bean sprouts and Chinese chives or scallions on top.

*Cooking tip from Aoy: “Frying noodles requires a lot of oil; however, it is possible to use less than what’s indicated above by just adding small amounts from time to time to keep the noodles from drying, instead of adding all the oil at once at the onset.”

Thank you, Aoy, for this local take on a popular Thai dish! For more innovative meals like this one, visit Aoy in Bangkok today..

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Chicken Pad Thai Recipe

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Thai Fried Pork Recipe

Aoy in her lush, beautiful garden

This week we’ve been featuring authentic Thai recipes from host Aoy — a passionate food lover who has dedicated herself to teaching other how to prepare Thai dishes! She lives on the banks of the Tha Chin River in the Nakhon Sathom Province, just outside Bangkok. Read on for her recipe on how to make delicious Thai fried pork!

Aoy’s mouthwatering fried pork

A note from chef Aoy: “Moo Kha Chai, or Thai fried pork, is one of our signature dishes at the restaurant. After deep-frying the pork to a flavorful golden brown, it should taste a little like jerky, but not be hard and chewy. The meat should be soft and juicy, and coated with a sweet marinade that’s rich with flavors of coriander root, lemongrass, galangal, finger root, ginger, turmeric, garlic, and shallots.”

Thai Fried Pork with Fingeroot and Herbs (Moo Kah Chai)


10 red fresh chilies
20 dried hot red chilies (can adjust chilies to taste according to spice preference)
7 tsp. coriander seeds
4 roots of fresh cilantro (coriander)
5 stalks of fresh lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp. black peppercorns, whole
4 tbsp. galangal (kha), grated
10 leaves of fresh kaffir lime (sometimes called bai makroot), finely chopped
10 tbsp. small shallots, chopped
1 head, or 12-20 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh turmeric root, grated
1 cup ginger, grated or chopped
1/2 pound fresh finger root
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. palm (coconut) sugar
1 tsp. salt
1.5 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1.5 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
2/3 pound pork shoulder, cut into thin strips
1-2 cups vegetable oil (enough to cover the pan)


Grind together the chilies, coriander seeds, cilantro root, lemongrass, peppercorns, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger using a mortar and pestle until you have a coarse paste.

Add the paste to the cut of pork, along with the cumin, palm sugar, salt, soy sauces, oyster sauce and pineapple juice. Let it marinate for 15-30 minutes.

While the pork is marinating, heat oil in a wok or pan on medium heat. When hot, add the sliced finger root. Deep fry the root until golden brown, then remove and set aside on paper towel to dry. Remove any browned bits from remaining oil.

Reheat the leftover oil. When hot, add the pork. Cook until well-fried. Remove the pork from pan with a slotted spoon, letting the oil drain (or you can let it drain on a paper towel if desired).

Plate the pork and added fried finger root to garnish.

Enjoy it while it’s hot!

Thank you, Aoy, for this delicious pork recipe! For more flavorful Thai dishes like this one, visit Aoy in Bangkok today..

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Thai Fried Pork Recipe

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Thai Fried Spring Rolls

Aoy in her colorful kitchen

Meet Traveling Spoon host Aoy from Bangkok, Thailand. She is a passionate food and yoga lover who fully commits herself to every task at hand… especially when it comes to preparing authentic Thai dishes! Aoy has dedicated herself to teaching Thai cooking to foreigners and opened a restaurant in her home. She lives on a lush, beautiful property in the Nakhon Sathom Province, and uses fresh herbs and produce grown in the local community in her cooking. Aoy’s home is on the banks of the Tha Chin River, and it is a wonderful stop coming back from the Damnoen Saduak floating market and going into the city.

Read on for her recipe on how to make delicious Thai fried spring rolls!

Aoy’s delicious fried spring rolls

Aoy’s fried spring rolls are a tasty side dish bursting with flavor. These crispy, golden-brown delectables are sure to make any Thai-inspired meal even more delightful.

Thai Fried Spring Rolls


1 egg yolk, whisked
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cups cooking oil
1/2 pound packaged egg-roll sheets
1/4 pound glass noodles (also called cellophane noodles)
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup cabbage, thinly shredded
1/3 cup wood ear mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tbsp. black peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. salt


Soak the noodles according to the package directions until soft, then cut into short 1 ½-inch lengths.

Mix chicken, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, pepper, salt, and light soy sauce together and then add the noodles. Mix well.

Heat 3 tbsp. of oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic. Then add the chicken and noodle mixture. Fry until chicken is cooked through and the mixture is fairly dry, then set aside and let cool.

Put the filling on an egg-roll sheet, roll up tightly, and seal the sheet with a small amount of egg yolk. Repeat the process until either the filling or egg roll sheets are used up.

Heat cooking oil in wok or deep-sided pan, then fry the egg rolls over medium heat until crisp and golden brown.

Thank you, Aoy, for this fantastic, vegetable-filled recipe! For more innovative Thai dishes like this one, visit Aoy in Bangkok today..

Recipes from Bangkok: Aoy’s Thai Fried Spring Rolls

Nayna’s Tofu & Kangkong Adobo Recipe – A Taste of the Philippines

tofu & kangkong adobo

Meet Traveling Spoon host Nayna. As a freelance food and travel writer, Nayna knows a lot about good food. While Nayna lives in Manila, she is also an avid traveler and adventurous eater, having grown up surrounded by the tastes and aromas of her grandmother’s kitchen. She loves experimenting with family recipes and adding new dishes to her repertoire, always ensuring that everything she prepares is made from scratch. Read on for her recipe on how to make a delicious dish of tofu & kangkong adobo, Filipino-style.

Continue reading “Nayna’s Tofu & Kangkong Adobo Recipe – A Taste of the Philippines”

Nayna’s Tofu & Kangkong Adobo Recipe – A Taste of the Philippines

Sundari’s South Indian Dal Fritters Recipe

Sundari Chennai South Indian Dal Fritters Our Chennai host, Sundari is bringing you the recipe for a delicious and popular South Indian tea-time snack, dal fritters. Made with chickpeas and deep-fried to crispy perfection, dal fritters provide the health benefits of chickpeas along with the renowned tastiness of fried foods. Keep reading for a taste of traditional South Indian cuisine enjoyed straight from your own kitchen. Thank you Sundari!

Continue reading “Sundari’s South Indian Dal Fritters Recipe”

Sundari’s South Indian Dal Fritters Recipe

Authentic Balinese Tuna Pepes (Pepes Ikan) Recipe

Tuna Pepes

Pepes ikan, or fish steamed in banana leaves, is one of Indonesia’s best dishes. Here’s how you can re-create this deliciously flavorful version of tuna pepes, thanks to our host Putu. Read on for more.

Continue reading “Authentic Balinese Tuna Pepes (Pepes Ikan) Recipe”

Authentic Balinese Tuna Pepes (Pepes Ikan) Recipe

Sayur Urab: Traditional Balinese Long Bean Salad

Sayur Urab - traditional Balinese Long Bean Salad

A salad featuring fresh coconut? Count us in! Sayur Urab, translated to mean “mixed vegetables”, is a classic Balinese dish that is perfect for anyone looking to spice up their salads in a flavorful and exciting way. Follow host Wayan’s recipe below for a delicious, healthy dish that will give you a glimpse into authentic Balinese cooking without having to leave your kitchen.

Continue reading “Sayur Urab: Traditional Balinese Long Bean Salad”

Sayur Urab: Traditional Balinese Long Bean Salad

Traditional Thai Recipe: Stir-Fried Lotus Runners with Shrimp

Stir-Fried Lotus
Photo credit: Anne

The lotus, or bua, is an important symbol in Thai culture as a sacred flower in Buddhist tradition. Within Thai cuisine, various parts of the lotus are eaten. With its abundance of minerals and vitamins, the lotus has several health benefits, such as increased bone density, healthier heart function, improved digestion, and better blood circulation. Ever wondered how you could cook lotus and make a delicious meal? Our host Pink in Bangkok shared with us her recipe for this deliciously savory traditional Thai dish, stir-fried lotus runners with shrimp. Read on for more.

Continue reading “Traditional Thai Recipe: Stir-Fried Lotus Runners with Shrimp”

Traditional Thai Recipe: Stir-Fried Lotus Runners with Shrimp

Best things to do in Bangkok – Explore Bangkok Like a Local

Explore Bangkok Like a Local
Photo credit: Lae

If you’re looking to travel like a local and not like a tourist, you’ve come to the right place. Thanks to our amazing hosts in Thailand, we are bringing you a local tips destination guide that gives you the inside scoop on the best way to explore Bangkok like a local.

Here at Traveling Spoon, we strive to do our part in making the world a smaller place through meaningful travel experiences that encourage engaging experiences with locals and opportunities to dig deeper into understanding cultures and places that may be unlike our own. Read on for 7 ways to explore Bangkok like a local along with traveler tips, provided by our hosts and Bangkok residents, Pern and Lae.

Continue reading “Best things to do in Bangkok – Explore Bangkok Like a Local”

Best things to do in Bangkok – Explore Bangkok Like a Local