Turkey’s one of the most important culinary cities “Antakya” locates just in the Southern-most point of the country connected to a culture which is lies about more than thousands of years between the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea. The cuisine here is a part of Middle Eastern cuisine which can also be found around Syria, Jordan and Lebanon especially.
While having the ancient name of the city, “Antiochia” is a good example to taste and understand this excellently delicious cuisine located in Istanbul’s Asmalimescit district (nearby Tunel – Taksim area). This is a small and very cute restaurant with a simple menu which they seem to intend to cook and serve the best dishes from the region.
The “mezzes” (between 6 – 10 TL) consist of some classical ones such as humus, eggplant with yoghurt, “babaganus” (another eggplant type mezze), “muhammara” (a kind of mezze made by crushed walnut) and they’ve got also some special ones which I’ve tasted for the first time such as bezirgani (very hot and spicy made by nicely chopped hot capsicum) and a special cheese with black cumin seed belongs to the region. Of course like any local cuisine restaurant that exists out of its original region, this restaurant is not as perfect as the ones states in Antakya; however, it is certainly one of the best in Istanbul in order to have an overall conceptual idea and to taste good examples of this cuisine… By the way, you may also choose 7 “mezzes” in a one plate (19 TL)…
For me “bezirgani” was the most successful one. May be it is not suitable for the people who does not like “hot and spicy” dishes, but for me, it is a really great dish especially when I eat it together with their special bread topped with chili pepper.
There is only Kayra wines in the menu and I decide to go for “Terra Shiraz” which may match with these spicy dishes, and with most dishes (especially except the hot “bezirgani”) it matches, indeed! The wine prices are not that high comparing with other restaurants of Istanbul (between 45 – 95 TL). You can also go for glass of wine (10 – 17 TL for a glass).
We order for a special dish belongs to the region which is “burghull balls filled with seasoned minced meat” (12 TL each). Actually this “burghull ball” is cooked in different ways in Southern and Southern Eastern of Turkey as well as in the Middle East region. I like the way which belongs to my hometown “Adana” where the “burghull ball” is made as a round shape and boiled. However mostly in other places its shape is like an egg or a long egg and it is fried. There are also some other special styles and shapes which can be found in Antakya or in the Middle East (Syria, Jordan and Lebanon especially). Well, the one we ordered was not bad at all, but, of course it is not as good as I used to eat in Adana 🙂
When we come to meat dishes as a final course, we order for kebabs and wraps from beef (between 12- 30 TL). Kebab was good; especially I liked the quality of the meat. But I did not like the grilled tomato which seemed to be quite cold just like it was frozen… The wrapped grill was also an enjoyable dish at any time…
By the way, as I mentioned above, all the courses matched well with the wine. May be the eggplant with yoghurt was not a good match because of the existence of “yoghurt” but in any case, if the dishes are not that hot spicy there is always a possibility that these dishes may meet very well with different wines especially Shiraz/Syrah or Okuzgozu-Bogazkere.
“Antiochia” has got a small dining hall inside so I recommend to reserve before going, however, there is enough space outside and especially during summer period, it would be very nice and convenient to eat out there.