Exotic Turkish delights at Anatolia
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Naomi Lai
45, GongYi N St
Hours: 11 am-10 pm
No service charge.
Credit cards not accepted. English menu.
Undoubtedly, Turkish cooking stands among the world's great cuisines and has been influencing culinary traditions near and far since at least the days of the Ottoman Empire. In Central Taiwan over the past couple years, local diners have been discovering and enjoying this rich heritage for themselves via Anatolia Turkish Restaurant.
Turkish owner Yilmaz Dogru and his Taiwanese wife Jeacy Yen met in Turkey and were married three years ago. Their Taichung restaurant was a natural direction for them, as Yilmaz had previous hospitality experience running a pension in his hometown city of Pamukkale in southwest Turkey. This region also influences the Turkish country-style cooking that Anatolia offers.
Located on a quiet lane off the busy restaurant-laden GongYi Road, this eatery works hard to create a relaxing cultural ambiance, decorated liberally with traditional Turkish metal plates, lamps, pictures, knickknacks, water pipes and the like. The menu is divided into some major categories of Turkish dining, such as salads, "pide" Turkish-style pizzas and, of course, that staple of Turkish cuisine, the kebab. For an extra NT$99, a main course can include a soup or drink and salad or dessert.
Some interesting representative items include the Goban Salata (NT$110), a refreshing Mediterranean salad of diced green peppers, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, covered with olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice and bits of feta cheese. Another great dish, Babakarnush, is made by baking an eggplant until it's soft, removing its skin, chopping it finely, then adding onions, green peppers and tomatoes before cooking. It also goes great with Pide bread (which is included). Besides Pide Ekmek (NT$70) flat bread, diners love to try the air-filled Lavash bread (NT$75), which resembles an inflated sheepskin. Related are the five kinds of oval-shaped pizzas (NT$230-300) made with thin but chewy bread and topped with beef, shrimp, vegetables and other ingredients.
Anatolia offers nine kebab options, made with traditional spices, which also serve to reduce muttony flavors. These include mutton-based Kuzu Sis (kebab) (NT$230); the popular and distinctive Beyti Kebab (NT$290), a mutton wrap sliced into multiple pieces and served with yogurt sauce and rice. Adana Kebab has ground mutton marinated in red peppers and spices, then wrapped around skewers and baked. A unique specialty from the Cappadocia region are the "Firin" met and vegetable dishes, baked and served in clay pots with cheese and tomato sauce toppings.
Any good meal here should also include some rich Turkish coffee (NT$90) or tea, a perfect complement to one of the NT$90 desserts, such as the Sutlac rice pudding, the "mochi" like Kazandibi, or Turkish ice cream, all great ways to round off another exotic Turkish culinary excursion here.