Dubai: Istanbul is fascinatingly picturesque but for me, if there’s one compelling reason to visit Europe’s largest city straddling the beautiful Bosphorus strait, then it has to be its food.
There’s nothing like enjoying a platter of steaming kebabs and piping hot shorba along the Sea of Marmara on a wintry day, but fancy a bit of all that here in the UAE this season? Günaydın (good morning in Turkish), the newly opened restaurant from the heart of Istanbul in Souk Al Bahar overlooking the shimmering Burj Khalifa is the address. Chic and fittingly urbane for its prime location, the place ticks almost all the boxes: good food, extraordinary ambience and a buzzing crowd.
In this beautiful weather, start by asking the waiter for the günün çorbası or the soup of the day. It usually is Turkey’s iconic lentil çorba (pronounced shorba) served with fresh baked bread and a slice of fresh lemon for added flavour. There’s a range of salads and starters, but their warm mezzes come highly recommended. As for me, I chose a Pastirmali Humus or humus with pastrami for its sheer novelty value over fried lamb meatballs or eggplant stuffed with rice.
It’s a meathouse alright, but they do have enough for the vegetarians and the cheese lovers going thanks to their pies and select starters like the creamy mashed potatoes (patates püresi) or the muhammara, the mildly spiced yet piquant paste with garlic and walnuts. Yet Günaydın’s top draw is their carnival of meat and I joined in the fun with a stunning dry-aged ribeye steak – flavoured with lots of rock salt to my liking. Glide through the succulent meat with your knife and you know just why Günaydin is the pioneer of the “steakhouse” concept in Turkey.
There’s a range of unique kebabs too, but if you are a little adventurous you could try out some of their traditional meatballs, döner and home-made burgers before finishing up with one of their classic desserts like a baklava that are always more than a mouthful.
Meal for Two: Dh450
Location: Waterfront Promenade, Souk Al Bahar - Dubai