Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Journey through Turkish Meze at Efendy

Turkish cuisine – hands up if you know much about it.

My hand is resolutely down, and I freely admit that I know little to nothing about Turkish food (except for gozleme). So, when Simon Food Favourites gave us the opportunity to try it, I shouted ‘Count me in!’. Together with a party of other foodbloggers, we descended on Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant in Balmain for a journey through the meze of Istanbul.

Our hosts were chef Somer and his wife, Asli, and they provided a feast of dishes for us to try. I won’t go into detail about the dishes, as Simon has written an excellent roundup here.

Just some pictures to whet your appetites like they did ours.

Delicious Turkish pide bread, with olive oil and various dipping mixes, including Baharat and Isot (dried pepper) – very spicy and raisin-y in flavour.

Soguk Mezeler (Cold mezes) included cubes of fava bean paste (with delicious chopped dill). Hamsi (Black Sea sardines, confit-style). Midye Dolma (Tasmanian mussels with rice and pinenuts).

Sicak Mezeler (Hot mezes). Pachanga Boregi (borek pastry of sun-dried beef and kashar cheese) – this was my favourite, absolutely delicious intense flavours.
Kadayifli Karides (Hervey Bay prawns wrapped in kadayifli pastry; this dish has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2007, by popular demand.
Koc Yumurtasi – lamb’s testicles; not my favourite, although it is a popular offal dish that is eaten in late-night restaurants around Istanbul (good for hangovers). In case you’re wondering, the ‘balls’ have a soft texture, like paté, and the taste is sort of milky, for want of a better word. To drink, we tried Raki, which is an aniseed liqueur that is mixed with water and ice.

A beautiful salad was next, Ahirdayi Salata, of chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
The main was Kuzu Kuzu, a tender trio of lamb, including a tradition yoghurt soup with lamb neck. Beautifully tender, pull-apart, Bultarra Saltbush lamb....mmmm....

Desserts included burnt mastic and cinnamon pudding, a 42-layered baklava, and Keskul, a pistachio, almond and pomegranate pudding (beautiful!). The Turkish apple tea with cinnamon stick, and Turkish Delight were a very delightful way to end the meal.

Before the meal, Somer gave us some background on Turkey and its food, and the way in which Turkey’s neighbouring countries have influenced the cuisine. The traditions of the Turkish palace are also a major influence with a huge staff of chefs being an integral part of the old palace. The traditional flavours and dishes are obviously an influence at Efendy, and the care with which the food is prepared certainly comes out in the presentation and quality of the dishes.
To close the evening, Somer and Asli presented a colourfully decorated glass plate clock to Simon for organising.

They also gave us a goodie bag filled with pomegranate molasses, Turkish apple tea, Isot, and Turkish Delight. To emphasise the restaurant’s quest for quality, Somer told us how he originally imported his Turkish Delight from Istanbul, as he couldn’t find any more authentic sweets. Until he discovered the famous Real Turkish Delight manufacturer right here in Sydney, which is even better than the one from Turkey. The rose-flavoured one is so gorgeous, it’s really hard to not eat the entire packet in one go...

We also got a detailed, written description of all the dishes, which I think emphasises the attention to detail that Efendy has. The evening was a wonderful example of Turkish cuisine, and it’s made me hungry for more of their tastes, the meze in particular. And the lamb’s testicles – maybe not...

Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant is at 79 Elliot St, Balmain, NSW. Ph: 02 9810 5466. http://www.efendy.com.au
Open Breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and Dinner Wednesday to Sunday.
Efendy Modern Turkish on Urbanspoon


  1. Effendy is one of the new finds I've also discovered in Balmain - I think it is a great place - really value for money! Let's go for breakfast one day?!

  2. hi bel, that's a great photo collection of the night. i really like the way you've photo grouped the cold mezes, hot mezes, main dish and desserts. would love to get a copy of the photo of me holding the clock when you get a chance with my cheesy grin. i like your opening photo of the little stuffed animal and type — very cute! :-)

  3. It was unfortunate that I didn't get to speak with you that evening :(

    Your photos are lovely! I can't believe they are with a P&S (although I know myself that you can produce good pics with P&S, you just need to have the right knowledge).

    I want more Keskul. Mmmm....

  4. Looks like an awesome dinner! I'm so sad that I couldn't make it and I squealed when I saw the kazandibi pudding (the cinnamon stretchy one). That's my favourite! :D

  5. This looks like it would have been a great dinner. It's good to see that they have a lot of passion and care for their native cuisine.

  6. Great photo's Belle. Sorry we didn't get to have a chat :( Maybe we should have changed seats every half hour to meet everyone!

  7. What a gorgeous meal. I'm trying to see to my ignorance of Turkish food, but it's hard when there aren't any great Turkish restaurants in Perth. Guess I now have another reason to go to Sydney.

  8. Bravo for trying the "milky" lamb's testicles. And living to tell the tale :)

    Testicle jokes aside, looks like you lucky bloggers have had a fantastic Turkish meal!

  9. I feel a bit ashamed now of how little I (apparently) know about Turkish food. Those desserts look heavenly, particularly as I'm currently obsessed with pistachios.

    Methinks a trip to Canberra's Ottoman restaurant should be in my future...

  10. hey Belle!! Great to see you again ^_^ Beaut photos it was mcuh darker where i was sitting :(

    How good is the apple tea! i brought it to work to have int he afternoon mMmm ^_^

  11. hi Trissa - yes, you're on! Breakfast (or brunch) at Efendy sounds perfect.

    hi Simon Food Favourites - thanks again for the great night out. You must really have a large collection of cheesy grin photos now :o)

    hi Phuoc'n Delicious - your photos of the night are really lovely. Thank goodness for photoshop is all I can say!

    hi Lorraine @ NotQuiteNigella - you really know your dishes. I hadn't had the stretchy dessert before, let alone know its name, lol!

    hi Simon @ the heart of food - you're right, it was so nice to meet restauranteurs who have the ability to share their passion with their customers.

    hi john@heneedsfood - I could see you but couldn't talk to you :( Hopefully there will be a next time.

    hi Conor @ HoldtheBeef - there aren't that many Turkish restaurants in Sydney (at least, that I know of - there are probably heaps). You will have a blast if you come here to eat :)

    hi foodwink - haha, the number of double entendres you can come up with with that dish! It could be a real balls up...

    hi Hannah - that's where food blogs are so handy - just print out someone's post of a visit to a Turkish restaurant and you'll be like an expert. *ahem!* That's what I did, anyway...

    hi Leona - Great idea. I think I'll take the tea into work, too. It will save on the cost of a soy mocha each day!