Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email

or

Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Simit, as we’ve reported previously, has gained a foothold outside of Turkey. The enticing sesame-encrusted bread rings have an easy target in bread- and bagel-loving New York – so much so, in fact, that the simit craze has even crossed the Hudson River into New Jersey. We decided to check out the stateside version for ourselves.

Simit + Smith recently opened a new location in Midtown Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 38th Street, joining two downtown locations and the factory in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Each simit is hand-rolled at the factory and freshly baked at each store. The three different types of simit offered include original with sesame, whole wheat with sesame and whole grain. Diners have the option of selecting the traditional bread ring or creating a sandwich. We ordered two of the latter: the grilled cheese with merguez sausage and ham with gruyère and Dijon mustard. Although it came not as a ring but as a bun, the bread was definitely the star of the show – perfectly crunchy on the outside with a light, fluffy center.

Chobani, one of the biggest “Greek” yogurt companies, has put a similar spin on simit. Although yogurt takes center stage at the company’s SoHo café, the menu also includes simit sandwiches, with ingredients that skew more traditional Mediterranean than those used at Simit + Smith. Offerings range from smoked salmon and herbed labne to Turkish aged beef with kasseri, a sheep’s milk cheese. While what’s inside is different, the outside is actually the same, we discovered: the staff told us that Simit + Smith bakes Chobani’s simits and delivers them directly to SoHo each morning.

Simit House and Bakery's simit, photo by Kristen BaughmanFarther afield, in Montclair, New Jersey, there’s Simit House and Bakery. Owner İbrahim Yağcı is originally from Istanbul and grew up in a family involved in the bakery business. He remembers watching his grandfather bake fresh breads each morning. With Simit House he strives to offer traditional Turkish fare, including menemen, baklava, poğaca and, of course, the eponymous simit. Yağcı recruited a professional baker from Turkey to move to Montclair, and he bakes all the items in-house. While enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee, we devoured his version, a crunchy ring that was perfectly browned from the molasses used in the baking process (as tradition dictates). We watched the baker mold the dough to form the simits, which are typically baked twice each day. At Simit House, they’re served the traditional way, with classic Turkish breakfast items such as olives, tomatoes and white cheese. And there’s also the Americanized version, the simit bun, for grilled chicken and pastrami sandwiches.

Simit is the “grandfather to the bagel,” Yağcı said, explaining that the recipe he uses dates back over 600 years. During our visit to Simit House, many people entered the shop to purchase these bread rings. Yağcı gestured to his patrons and told us that he opened in Montclair because he loves the varied demographic and the residents’ openness to trying new foods. He has even begun selling simit at the local Montclair farmers’ market. “I have everyone hooked on our simit,” he said.

Whether traditional or reinterpreted or co-opted, the simit is here to stay. And that’s the kind of globalization we like to see.

Simit + Smith
multiple locations, including
Address: 124 W. 72nd Street, Manhattan
Telephone: +1 212 496 6605
Web: www.simitandsmith.com
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 7:30am-8pm; Sat. & Sun. 8am-8pm
 
Chobani SoHo
Address: 150 Prince Street, Manhattan
Telephone: +1 646 998 3800
Web: http://www.chobani.com/culture/chobani-soho
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8am-7pm; Sat. 8am-8pm; Sun. 9am-7pm 
 
Simit House & Bakery
Address: 2 Church Street, Montclair, New Jersey
Telephone: +1 973 893 5970
Web: http://www.simitlove.com/
Hours: 8am-8pm
 
Kristen Baughman is a social media and public relations consultant with Gadabout Food based in Brooklyn, NY. She has also written for publications such as New York Street Food, Raleigh Beer Guide, Wake Living Magazine and OUR State Magazine. 
(photos by Kristen Baughman)
Export as KML for Google Earth/Google MapsOpen standalone map in fullscreen modeCreate QR code image for standalone map in fullscreen modeExport as GeoJSONExport as GeoRSSExport as ARML for Wikitude Augmented-Reality browser
10536266

loading map - please wait...

: 40.813724, -74.217902
: 40.777656, -73.979862
: 40.725717, -74.001129
Kristen Baughman

Related stories

June 2, 2017

In Vienna, a Dying Breed of Butcher

By Tobias Mueller
Elsewhere -- What the taco stand is to Mexico City or the wok-wielding hawker to Bangkok, the Würstelstand is to Vienna. At any time of day or night, people line up to snack on a quick sausage, with a pickle, mustard and a can of beer. There is an astonishing variety of sausages to choose…
May 9, 2017

Arsi’s Pateseria: An Armenian Bakery Grows in Queens

By Busra Erkara
Queens -- Tucked away from the constant hustle and bustle of Queens Boulevard, Anna and George Artunian’s Sunnyside bakery, Arsi’s Pateseria, is a pleasant surprise. As we walk down 47th Avenue towards the gauzy Midtown Manhattan skyline, the smell of freshly baked burekas greets us long before we get to the bakery’s wide window. Inside,…
May 22, 2017

Capturing Queens

By Culinary Backstreets
Queens -- Starting with our Queens Migrant Kitchens project – whose creator, Sarah Khan, was recently featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown – and continuing with the introduction of our dedicated Queens section, we’ve been increasingly drawn deeper into the rich world of New York’s most diverse borough. The food in Queens, representing communities that speak…