Dining Out 3 minutes 03 February 2023

Istanbul – sensational in every sense of the word

A visit to Türkiye’s largest city is a multisensory experience. Of course, everything revolves around flavour in the restaurants included in the MICHELIN Guide's selection, but all these remarkable establishments have a great deal more to offer. This article was inspired by Mastercard’s vision, which consists in connecting to people through all the senses in ways that are relevant, authentic, compelling and nonintrusive to reach their hearts and minds. Our inspectors have selected seven restaurants where the senses of taste, smell, sight, touch and hearing are stimulated in the most remarkable way. Try these places out for yourself and discover new sides to Istanbul.

Istanbul Views Seafood

Mürver’s smoky aromas

The turquoise charcoal oven and barbecues immediately catch your eye when you enter Mürver. As soon as your first dishes are served, it becomes clear that fire is at the very heart of this trendy rooftop restaurant – you can smell the grilled sea bass before it even reaches your table! The aromas wafting over from the barbecue really underscore the quality of the fish. The bread, too, is crisped up in the oven to give it a nice crust, and served with duck rillettes that have also been baked in the oven.
But smoky flavours are by no means all this place has to offer. For instance, once the pistachio cake is out of the oven, it is contrasted with the robust flavour and aroma of grilled orange, buffalo milk ice cream and pistachio. Go for a spot at the counter to get the biggest dose of all these stimuli possible. To round off your experience immersed in yet more exotic aromas, head to the fabulous cocktail bar for one of their fresh creations and take in the stunning views over the Bosphorus.

Mürver
Mürver

The rhythm of the music at Octo and Sofyali 9

Take the lift to the tenth floor, order one of the numerous delicious cocktails and find a spot at the poolside to make the most of the live DJ set. Talk about a cool location! A visit to the rooftop bar Sky Karaköy is just the ticket if you’re looking for a laid-back vibe with music and a party atmosphere in the company of a hip nightlife crowd – plus you get stunning views of the bustle of the Bosphorus. We would also recommend going down a floor to Octo to try the on-trend mix of Mediterranean and local flavours on their menu. Afterwards, you can always just pop back upstairs for a digestif by the illuminated pool.

Octo
Octo

Fans of Turkish and Greek songs such as melancholic rebetika who are looking for a more traditional vibe should head to Sofyali 9 – here the name of the game is having a good time around a table covered with Anatolian delicacies. The warmth and coziness of this restaurant is enhanced by the rhythmic background music in such a way that you will be transported back to the Istanbul of yesteryear. A table on the ground floor is best to soak up the atmosphere. To help you relive the experience at home, Sofyali 9 even has its own playlist on Spotify.

Sofyalı 9
Sofyalı 9

The views from Topaz and Nicole

The eye is constantly stimulated in Istanbul. It is difficult to remain indifferent to the combination of historical gems and the vibrancy typical of a metropolis. Once inside Topaz, it is as if the beautiful surroundings have been drawn in with you, thanks to the large windows. The architectural splendour of the minarets of Dolmabahçe Mosque, the impressive Bosphorus and the city’s authentic Asian Side are among the truly breathtaking sights. Now, this is what you call (Mediterranean) dining with a view! Although, of course, Istanbul has much more to offer.

Topaz
Topaz

The old town really unveils its charms at the MICHELIN-starred Nicole, with the view adding an extra dimension to this exquisite fine dining experience. Here, Sultanahmet steals the show: the view of historical Istanbul with its colourful buildings is a feast for the eyes. Weather permitting, head for the terrace. It is entertaining to watch the cooks busily working in the kitchen. And if you come for dinner at dusk, as the sun sets in the background, you will be treated to a magical experience that will stay with you for years to come.

Nicole
Nicole

Turk Fatih Tutak’s mind-blowing flavours

The characteristically intense flavour of perfectly medium-rare roast lamb, combined with the succulence of smoked yoghurt and the subtle spiciness of a delicate pepper cream. On the side, a plate with a rich lamb sausage that imparts the beautiful complexity and depth of flavour particular to this meat. A simple salad drizzled with a thick vinaigrette delicately offsets the greasiness of the sausage and lends an intense freshness.

Dinner at Fatih Tutak’s restaurant is a whirlwind of unique impressions. His cuisine is highly personal and brimming with original ideas that give a whole new meaning to respect for sustainability and Turkish traditions. The way this discerning chef elevates raw mackerel from the Bosphorus with tender aubergine, caviar and a heavenly gravy based on a medley of vegetables is testament to his talent. An explosion of flavours!

TURK Fatih Tutak
TURK Fatih Tutak

The feel of seafood at Kiss the Frog

The lukewarm grains of rice, the fine slices of tuna, the steamed prawn at the bottom, with cucumber and avocado added for freshness – all this deliciousness is bundled into a piece of sushi that you take between your thumb and forefinger and place on your tongue. What hits you next is a heady mix of flavours that combines exceptional impressions in one bite. At Kiss the frog, seafood lovers are in for a real treat, and there is no better way to experience it than by eating with your hands.
For this reason, the seafood platter is also an absolute must. Just tasting the amazing saltiness of an oyster from its shell makes your visit worthwhile! If you are dining with friends, definitely order the richly garnished seafood pizza. But be sure to leave room for dessert, especially the “after eight profiteroles”, filled with mint ice cream and served with chocolate sauce and hazelnut pieces. You guessed it: preferably to be eaten with your hands in order to fully enjoy the different textures!

Kiss the frog
Kiss the frog
Illustration image // Nicole

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