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!

A simit stand in Istanbul, photo by Yigal Schleifer
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Being big fans of simit – the sesame-encrusted bread ring that’s one of Turkey’s most popular street foods – we’ve looked on with delight over the last few years as the humble snack has made its way from Istanbul to the other metropolis with a 212 area code: Manhattan. First, longstanding Istanbul baklava maker Güllüoğlu opened a branch in Midtown East and began selling freshly baked simit under the moniker “Turkish bagel.”

Now, a brand-new establishment with an entirely simit-based menu, Simit + Smith, has opened on the Upper West Side, with plans in the works to expand to the Financial District and elsewhere in the city. The eatery offers an array of sandwiches and sweet and savory snack items made with (purists beware!) three different types of simit: original with sesame, whole wheat with sesame or whole grain. Moreover, Simit + Smith seems to be squarely taking aim at the New York bagel market, noting on its website that “Simit have 2/3 the calories and much less fat than bagels or pretzels and contain all natural ingredients with absolutely no sugar.”

But will New Yorkers, notoriously wedded to their bagels, make the switch? The New York Daily News recently got on the story, polling a handful of top bagel connoisseurs about their opinions on simit, with reactions that ranged from enthusiastic to derisive:

“It looks like a pretzel!” says Florence Wilpon, owner of Manhattan mainstay Ess-A-Bagel. And she won’t call the Turkish import a bagel. “What gives a simit its flavor is the sesame,” Wilpon says. “There’s a damp feeling inside, like it’s not thoroughly baked.”

Though die-hard bagel fans may snub their noses, the folks at Simit + Smith seem to be confident of the crunchy, tasty bread’s ability to win over even the pickiest New Yorkers. As the company’s business director, Vanessa Vardon, tells the newspaper: “If it can work on the Upper West Side, which is very local, it can work anywhere.”

The full New York Daily News story is here.

vlarson

Related stories

Simit House's eponymous treats, photo by Kristen Baughman
November 27, 2014

Rings around the World: The Simit Invades New York (and New Jersey)

By Kristen Baughman
New York -- 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…
The memorial to Feridun Yükseltürk, photo by Paul Osterlund
July 1, 2016

Simitçi Feridun: May the Simit Be Unbroken

By Paul Benjamin Osterlund
Istanbul -- The sound of bombs has become an all too frequent occurrence in Istanbul as of late, and residents of the city's Cihangir neighborhood were spooked as ever when an explosion occurred in a building overlooking the main square early on a recent Sunday morning. Blasts sound no less scary when they are the…
Lagana bread, photo by Lucia Pescaru/Shutterstock.com
March 15, 2013

Ask CB: The Food of Lent Monday in Greece?

By Despina Trivolis
Athens -- Dear Culinary Backstreets, I heard that the Monday on which Lent begins is a holiday in Greece and that there are some special culinary traditions. Is this true? What do Greeks eat on this day? Kathari Deftera, or “Clean Monday,” also known as Lent Monday, Pure Monday and Ash Monday, is a bank holiday in Greece…