Features 3 minutes 08 July 2024

Türkiye: Fine Dining Restaurants Reflecting Bodrum: Malva and Tuti

Bodrum has become a genuinely fulfilling destination with stunning coastlines that offer both quiet and lively holiday experiences -as you prefer. Now, it also stands out for some important restaurants and two prominent examples of these refined places are Malva and Tuti which combine the world-famous Aegean olive oils with fresh seafood, herbs, and vegetables and treat the region’s products, from various cheeses to fruits naturally ripened on trees like precious gems.

Malva

Situated on the terrace of the Susona Hotel in Bodrum Torba, Malva is a place that catches your eye at first glance with its breathtaking view and then captivates you with its elegant simplicity. Every year from May onwards, Malva welcomes guests to this magnificent view with dishes of exceptional quality, cocktails, and carefully selected wine lists. The restaurant’s signature cocktails, such as the Spice Market prepared with the ideal balance of bitter, sour, and sweet, or the lavender-infused Artemis, provide the perfect way to start a good evening.

Malva, Exterior © DTM Photography / Malva
Malva, Exterior © DTM Photography / Malva

As with the variety of cocktails, the menu at Malva also emphasizes high-quality ingredients. Chef Gürkan Tümsek, who has worked in Bodrum and at various Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, brings his experience to Malva’s menu. Local prawns can be transformed into agnolotti with bisque sauce, while red mullet can be served with a Marseille-style seafood soup bouillabaisse thanks to the chef’s knowledge on the region and his mastery on international culinary techniques.

As expected in any good restaurant, the chefs’ menu is spot-on. The dishes are unvarnished and well-chosen. The chef favors ingredients like nearby Urla artichokes and Mount Ida cheeses and specializes in local seafood and vegetables. For instance, he combines stuffed zucchini blossoms with mussels or scallops with an artichoke cream sauce. But don’t assume that you have not meat options; the menu also includes lamb and beef if you wish, both presented in simple yet refined ways. Malva also follows the latest gastronomic trends, including fermented and organic foods. The chef’s fermented ketchup and fermented mushroom sauce enhance the dishes and our palates delicately. Additionally, we see the lionfish with leche de tigre sauce in Malva too…

Malva, Lionfish Tartare © Büşra Paşam / Malva
Malva, Lionfish Tartare © Büşra Paşam / Malva

Tümsek prefers light desserts which suits better for the summer days in Bodrum. The most challenging and extraordinary one is the plate called “Olive Oil Quartet”. This dessert reflects one of the most magnificent forms of olive oil as a dessert: A piece of olive oil cake, covered with olive oil cream, topped with olive oil ice cream, and surrounded by olive oil marmalade. This perfect dessert made with Memecik olive oil (which is the best olive oil example of the fruity flavors of the region) is also reflects an exquisite technique, so it’s a must to taste…

Malva, Olive Oil Quartet © Büşra Paşam / Malva
Malva, Olive Oil Quartet © Büşra Paşam / Malva

If you think it’s hard to choose between the many mouth-watering options at Malva, you’re right: It is indeed a delightful challenge. That’s why to try the chef’s 12-course tasting menu is a perfect idea, because it combines gastronomic local heritage with international techniques and classics to create an extensive selection.

A kind reminder: The restaurant is open for dinner after 7 PM except Mondays and does not accept guests under the age of 16.

Tuti

Located on the terrace of The Marmara Bodrum Hotel, Tuti is a beautiful example of a restaurant in Bodrum where high-quality local ingredients are combined with traditional culinary repertoire. The restaurant with one of the finest sunset views in the city is headed by the Chef Hakan Süve for the past 11 years. Süve coordinates two kitchens at the same time: He is the head chef of the restaurant and of the hotel, serves the hotel menu during the day and Tuti’s special menu in the evening, starting after 7 pm. The dishes on the Tuti’s menu are a real tribute to the region and the chef has a great deal of influence on this attitude, of course.

Tuti, Terrace © Tuti
Tuti, Terrace © Tuti

As one of the most outstanding chefs grown up in the area, Hakan Süve has a specific point of view on gastronomy which always minds the local culture and people of the region. Süve began collaborating with agricultural cooperatives years ago, anticipating -even hoping- that Bodrum as a significant tourist destination could also stand out gastronomically. He has been working with Slow Food for years, encouraging local farmers to produce local ingredients from heirloom seeds by offering them a purchase guarantee. Süve’s commitment extends beyond his kitchen and makes him a true gastronomic warrior: getting erişte (a Turkish type of pasta) from Milas and putting on his menu, engaging with producers to cultivate “Dalyan mullet bottarga” and using it instead of Italian bottarga, helping a small olive oil company in Yalıçiftlik to improve their quality and reach the point where it has won a gold medal today.

Tuti, Stuffed Squid © Merin Sever
Tuti, Stuffed Squid © Merin Sever

The chef’s care and attention are evident in every dish at Tuti. Sometimes, he has to go further afield for sourcing the ingredients, to the Aegean and the Mediterranean, or for products that only grow in certain areas, such as pistachios, but he tries to get them from the Muğla region whenever possible. Süve incorporates into his menu octopus from Gümüşlük, sesame from Gökova, figs from Fethiye, pale peas, paximadia, blue-tailed prawns, or yellowtail (also known as rock bass) from Bodrum and fully embraces seasonality in some dishes: For example, the hash browns made from Bodrum herbs have no fixed ingredients. This dish made with a mix of herbs available that week by cooking hash brown technique allows to evolve the ingredients with the changing seasons from spring to autumn. Moreover, mixing the yogurt with an excellent ingredient like tarhana which is rediscovered with the rise of fermented foods, brings a new interpretation to the classic hash brown-yogurt duo.

This is the chef’s most outstanding ability: to elevate simple tastes while remaining true to its context. He pairs stuffed calamari, a regional classic, with herbs like mallow and nettle, then adds squid ink sauce or transforms thinly sliced artichokes into a colorful “hommage to artichoke” plate with strawberries, citrus, and basil. The purslane salad is an excellent example of his special skill: He combines the crispiest purslane with the pine nuts from the region’s pine trees, strawberries, cucumber, and pea cream and places a black mulberry sorbet in the center of the plate, making you wonder “Can such a high level of flavor be expected from a salad?”

Tuti, Purslane Salad © Merin Sever
Tuti, Purslane Salad © Merin Sever

The traditional dishes of the Aegean cuisine at Tuti reflect the same sensitivity of “staying in context”. Çökertme kebabı, found almost everywhere in Bodrum as a regional kebab, is not served here with a simple tomato sauce, but with a bone broth sauce, as it should be. Traditional Aegean pan-fried dumplings are served in their crispiest form, while muhallebi (custard) with tahini and kazandibi (white pudding with caramelised surface) nod to historic dairy desserts.

If you’d like to taste dishes inspired by local ingredients and traditional Bodrum cuisine, then with its location overlooking the magnificent sunset and with the successful kitchen reflects the Aegean cuisine, Tuti is one of the must-places to try here.

Header: Tuti, Izmir Mastic Artichoke // © Merin Sever

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