Editor’s note: This post was written by “Meliz,” an intrepid explorer of Istanbul’s culinary backstreets and frequent Istanbul guest contributor who would like to keep her anonymity.
It all started with Laz böreği. It was not just any Laz böreği that showed up at the dinner party that evening, but perfect Laz böreği: layers of yufka (phyllo), buttery and moist, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, in a symbiotic balance with the custard, which was neither too sweet, nor too eggy, neither too runny, nor too stiff. Juuuust right. Goldilocks would have been proud. And, it turns out, this stuff is addictive.
So that got us on the ferry and up the hill to Moda Caddesi in Kadıköy, on a pilgrimage to the source. And that is where we really got ourselves into trouble. Bizim Ev (“Our House”) is a storefront on one of the arcaded stretches of Moda Caddesi, tucked in among discount stores, karate studios, the best butcher in town and five million coiffeurs. Although Bizim Ev is primarily a takeaway type of operation, they do have a few tables, both inside and out. Glowing and cozy, the place welcomes you with an immediate barrage of choices. And therein lies the problem: How to choose just one thing?
In addition to the Laz böreği mentioned already, they do an amazing savory börek stuffed with roasted eggplant (közlenmiş patlıcan muska böreği) and a daily selection of other savory böreks. Again: perfect yufka, perfect fillings, perfect börek. Our greatest weakness at Bizim Ev, though, is an item best described as When Veggie Quiche Met Ev Poğaca. A baked batter that falls somewhere on the eggier side of a biscuit holds together a cornucopia of vegetables (usually potato, red pepper, onion and zucchini) laced generously with fresh dill. Irresistible. And there is still so much more to choose from: cookies, cakes (ooooh, the sour cherry cake!), baklava… and then there are the zeytinyağlı (vegetables prepared in olive oil) dishes. Bizim Ev manages to rock the baked goods and to roll out an impressive variety of cold appetizer classics, all made daily from the best ingredients, and all delicious enough to impress even the most stubborn zeytinyağlı snob.
Although we seem to be incapable of picking just one thing, we suspect we are not the only ones, as owners Nezahat Hanım and Ali Bey never bat an eye when we look shifty, clutch at our pearls and let out the clarion call of a closeted addict: “Oh, and maybe just a few of those, too…” So go ahead and don’t be shy – try it all. Everything at Bizim Ev is outstanding. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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