Turkish Feast | Kebabs, kuzu tandir, kunefe & more

Did some fun sampling at newcomer Turkish Feast, a spacious relaxing restaurant in Jinshang, in the same building as Boxing Cat and Q Mex Taqueria, and just down from Pachapapi. That building continues to offer food diversity, with options now ranging from Italian and Mexican to Peruvian and Turkish.

I’m a novice when it comes to Turkish food and very much enjoyed our tour of favorite dishes, led by chef Cenk Cakmak.

We bean with a fresh tomato- and onion-based salad, the tang mellowed by green and black olives. Then a trio of dips and a pair of flat breads. A dip called muhammara was rich and vibrantly coloured with red pepper paste. It had garlic, fresh herbs and a pleasant texture from the crushed walnuts.

The kebabs, including chicken seasoned with red pepper and lamb with oregano, were tender and slightly juicy. These had sides of yogurt and bulgur wheat pilaf. (That bulgur pilaf features in numerous dishes and doubles as a mild partner to the richer mains.)

The slow-cooked lamb–or kuzu tandir–flaked beneath our forks and had that delectable “melt in your mouth” quality. Chewier, but no less tasty, were the beef medallions known as tereyaginda lokum. At Turkish Feast, they use Australian tenderloin cooked in butter with a perfect pinch of seasoning. That plate emptied fast.

And for dessert? Kunefe, a Turkish favorite that mixes shredded pastry and cheese soaked in syrup, topped with pistachio. (Quite sweet but not baklava sweet.) Plus Turkish ice cream.

That was quite a food tour.

We washed it down with ayran, a salty cold yogurt drink. I’m going to label this one an acquired taste. Far more familiar was raki, Turkey’s aniseed-flavored national spirit. There is also a wine list I’ll check out next time.

My invite came via Preston, who spent a year in Turkey and gave this place two thumbs up as the best Turkish food he’s had in Beijing.

We also each brought booze to share. His was a Ukrainian vodka called “Spirit of the Tsars” which includes grape spirit and is aged in Cognac barrels. It had a lot of caramel character and reminded me of a sweeter lighter brandy. Mine? New Zealand’s Taizi, leftover from World Baijiu Day: its mild aniseed aroma served as a nice counterpoint to the raki.

We finally rolled out of Turkish Feast at about 3:30 PM, our bellies full, our brains slightly buzzing. Not a bad state on a Sunday afternoon.

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