Authentic kebabs at Istanbul

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Authentic kebabs at Istanbul


The strip beside the entrance of Gyeongridan, near the Noksapyeong subway station, is a small haven of inexpensive, ethnic restaurants that all offer convenient take-outs.
There is Taco, which serves up Mexican treats, Buddha’s Belly with Thai cuisine, Thunderburger with their lavish hamburgers and finally, Istanbul, featuring kebabs and falafels, as well as fish and chips.
Contrary to its name, Istanbul is quite a fusion deal as it mixes in the traditional Middle Eastern menu of kebabs and falafels with its signature dish of fish and chips.
“There is a small cult following for our fish and chips,” commented the owner, Joseph Kim. Now, this mix might make the authenticity of Istanbul seem a little fishy, but the one-and-a-half year old restaurant’s kebabs have their perks. The meat, chicken or a beef and lamb combination, is nicely cooked on kebab grills, leaving it free of excess grease. The beef and lamb combination is half beef, and half lamb, ground with seasoning.
I ordered the chicken kebab set (chicken kebab in pita bread, french fries and soft drink) and a beef and lamb kebab in tortilla set (both 5,000 won, $5).
The tortilla was the regular, store-bought quality ― quite flat and rather mealy. The pita bread, which the owner claims is made at their affiliated factory in Seoul, was much better, with a non-sweet, slightly oven-baked flavor. The added fillings were mostly cabbage and onions with parsley and other herbs mixed in.

The main sauce was a yogurt with a bit of garlic seasoning and amusingly, but understandably, the owner said, “If a Korean orders, we add mustard and ketchup in as well because I’ve heard complaints from Korean customers if the kebabs are served only with yogurt sauce.”
Costing only 3,000 to 3,500 won, the kebabs are more authentic than many other places around Seoul, such as the vendors around Gangnam station, as the centerpiece of the dish ― the meat ― was well-prepared.

by Cho Jae-eun

Istanbul is located in Yongsan-gu, central Seoul. There are two others; the main store in Daehangro and one in front of Ewha Womans University. The nearest subway for the branch in Yongsan-gu is Noksapyeong Station, line No. 6, exit 1. For more information, call (02) 796-0271.
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