Turk Faith Tutak (TFT) is a Michelin worthy restaurant in Istanbul. If the guide was in Turkey, I have no doubt they would get at least 1, if not 2, stars. Before I review my meal though, I want to tell you about the transportation situation in Istanbul, and how you can avoid being scammed.
I gave ample to time to get to TFT from our hotel and requested an Uber. Right away, I got a message from the driver “where are you going?”. I replied and he quoted me a rate 5x the estimate by the Uber App. I suggested we use the APP and he cancelled the ride. This happened about 5 more times and I realized this was how Uber was in Istanbul. I was now getting worried we would miss our reservation so I went inside the hotel, and asked the front desk to hail us a cab.
The hotel gentleman came outside and tried to hail a cab. Here is what happened:
- many would not stop
- those who stopped did the same thing as the Uber drivers – ask where you are going, then quote 5x the price. If you suggest turning on the meter, they will drive away.
- many would claim traffic is crazy and that is the reason for the increased price
Finally, one driver agreed to take us for 2x the price as negotiated by the hotel guy. However, once we got on our way, he told me there was huge traffic and the price would go up to 3x. Note, this was about 8PM and there was NO TRAFFIC! Anyway, I told him I had no more cash and we settled on 2.5x the normal price.
After this experience, it was evident that it would be extremely difficult getting around Istanbul. Even on our way home from the restaurant, the hostess told us she WAS able to call us a cab who AGREED to use the meter and it was a 1 in a million bout of luck that we were able to get this. As we waited outside the restaurant uncertain if this angel of a taxi driver would even show up (he did and did as promised), I texted the individual who organized our airport transfer and asked if we could just hire a car and driver for the day (and night). Luckily, he agreed and the rate was very reasonable. If you want the contact info for the driver, follow me on Instagram and send me a DM. I will provide you the gentleman who will save you a lot of headaches. The cars/vans are super luxurious and you will have your own dedicated driver who will be with you the whole day (and into the early morning if you want to go out at night). Check out the van we got:
Now, back to the review. As we arrived at TFT, I saw various seafood drying in the window and I knew it was going to be a great meal.
The dining room was modern with an open kitchen concept.
Here is a bit about the philosophy of the restaurant and the menu that evening.
To start, we ordered some cocktails. They were one of the best cocktails I have ever had. I highly recommend you try a few.
The meal started with a pickle juice popular in Turkey called salgam.
I really loved how the restaurant produced elevated interpretations of classic Turkish dishes using Turkish ingredients. For example, the bread, butter and this olive oil.
Next stuffed mussels (dolma) which you will find all over Istanbul as street food. However, this version was creative as the “shells” were actually edible crackers. Beautiful and delicious.
Next, egg, red pepper.
…and then what I will always remember as one of the most creative and beautiful food presentations. Mackerel, and caviar “ebru” (which means “marbled paper art” – check out these examples then watch my video of the dish below – INCREDIBLE!). Check it out:
Following this was the heritage tomato (this may be the only dish I was not a fan of).
The next dish was so luxurious – sea bass:
Then, a gift from the kitchen, manti (Turkish dumpling) with the recipe coming from the chef’s grandma!
The last savory dish of the night was a lamb which they presented and then allowed us to choose a knife.
Then the plated lamb also served with kofte (Turkish meatball):
The cheese course was unique again, with a spritz of olive oil:
For dessert, the restaurant did what I am noticing is an emerging trend in fine dining, changing locations. I welcome this because tasting menus are long and sitting for hours can make one restless. On this meal, they give you a tour of the kitchen, and then serve you multiple desserts in the kitchen!
Overall, this was an incredible meal. Service was good. Food was good. Everything was well thought out and executed. The “theatrics” were well done and not gimmicky. The modern interpretation of classic Turkish dishes was extremely well done. I would go back (which is not the norm with fine dining tasting menus for me) and I would highly recommend you try it when in Istanbul.