From Western China all the way to Istanbul, Turkic people roll out dough, fold it into small pouches, boil it and call it mantı. When it comes to dumplings, Turkish tradition dictates that the tortellini-like mantı be no larger than peanut-sized. With its unusually large (and sometimes fried) dumplings, Bodrum Mantı & Café has taken traditional Turkish mantı to soaring new heights, of which we strongly approve.
Don’t be put off by the modish décor or the high street address; this is the real article. This 24-hour Arnavutköy staple with a Bosphorus view never fails to serve it up hot, fast, good and cheap.
Think of what they serve here as Supermantı.
The içli köfte – boiled or fried bulgur and ground meat football-shaped patties – is always made to order, unlike many oil-soaked renditions found around town. Stick a fork in the çiğ börek and watch – or, better yet, smell – the hot, airy pocket pastry deflate in an aromatic whoosh, revealing a light filling of ground meat. Like the mantı, these appetizers come jumbo, so be forewarned.
The mantı is offered in a few varieties: whole wheat or white dough, boiled or fried. When it was fried, we couldn’t discern the wheat from the white dough, but in boiled form the whole wheat offered a pleasant change. Ordering half portions allowed us to try many combinations of fillings and toppings.
The pièce de résistance – temel’in bihteri – is fried just enough for the thin shell to crisp up and the stuffing of spinach, onions and cheese to meld nicely without being greasy. This mantı even holds up well under a generous topping of garlic yogurt sauce. Supermantı, indeed.
Editor’s note: This is a golden oldie that we wrote about a while back but still enjoy. Moreover, a recent trip to this institution reminded us why it’s worth a visit. Where else can you have lunch while directly overlooking the Bosphorus and walk out having only paid 30 TL ($8.50) for an entree, soft drink and complimentary tea and dessert?
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