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Handy Guide For Istanbul

After publishing “Handy Guide for Singapore” two weeks ago, I have been asked by many followers to publish an article on my native land, Istanbul.

Thanks to my wife, Dilek Haskan, we managed to bring out our wealth of experience in Istanbul.

Istanbul_panorama_and_skyline

SIGHTSEEING/NEIGHBOURHOODS

Historical peninsula: This neighbourhood should be your first stop in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, The Basilica Cistern and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are the must-see sites.

For shopping and the ultimate eye indulgence, sample various spices from around the world in Spice Market and visit Grand Bazaar for a shopping experience unique to Turkey.

  • Grand Bazaar/Historical Peninsula Shopping:

Iznik Art and Iznik Works for Iznik pottery and tiles

Armaggan for jewellery, objects d’art and homeware. They also have a boutique hotel located in a ‘yali’ on Bosphorus.

Dhoku for great carpets – they even sell to my wife’s favourite stores Anthropologie and ABC Home in the US.

Taksim: Historical street with lots of cafes and restaurants. Visit Galata Tower here. You should also visit Serdar-i Ekrem Street for local designer stores.

Besiktas/Ortakoy/Bebek: You can take a boat from Besiktas and have a tour on Bosphorus, enjoy great views of both European and Anatolian side.

While you’re here, stock Turkish delights at Lokum Istanbul.

Nisantasi: Hip district for shopping, in-demand restaurants and cafes

EATING OUT

Traditional restaurants:

  • Mikla in Taksim district for modern Ottoman style cuisine
  • Hamdi in historical peninsula for Turkish meat dishes; you should try pistachio kebab here
  • Hunkar in Nisantasi
  • Pandeli Restaurant in Spice Market is dated back to 1901 and visited by historical figures and American actors such as Audrey Hepburn and Robert De Niro
  • Karakoy Lokantasi for traditional Ottoman cuisine; try Hunkar Begendi here
  • Ciya Sofrasi if you visit Anatolian side

Modern restaurants:

Turkey doesn’t have Michelin star restaurants yet but we definitely have some restaurants that deserves it such as Nicole and Alancha.

  • Nicole in Taksim
  • Alancha in Nisantasi
  • Colonie and Gaspar in Karakoy with a bar and restaurant
  • Munferit in Taksim (closed on Sundays)
  • Changa in Taksim; this is a very well decorated restaurant (Wallpaper Design Award in 2007) with good food
  • Sunset in Ulus; great food and an accompanying great view
  • While you’re here, you can stop by Ulus 29 which is nearby to have drinks over views

Seafood/Fish restaurant:

You should try one of these while you are in Istanbul

  • Rumelihisari Iskele Restaurant: This is my favourite fish restaurant..
  • Kandilli Suna’nin Yeri: Humble fish restaurant in Uskudar on Anatolian side; you can take the boat from Besiktas and go to Uskudar in 5 mins
  • Kiyi: in Tarabya

Night life (these bars/clubs have restaurants too)

  • Reina on Bosphorus; one of the usual suspects. Not always the best crowd but spectacular view
  • Anjelique on Bosphorus; I like this one better than Reina
  • Nuteras in Taksim overseeing old town
  • Su Ada: If  you are in Istanbul in summer. It’s an artificial island in the middle of the sea with bars and restaurants and a pool.
  • 360 Istanbul in Taksim; 360 degree views of the city

SHOPPING

  • Galata neighbourhood in Taksim is the area that has many Turkish designer shops on Serdar-I Ekrem Street

While you’re here, visit Dogan Apartmani – a spectacular building of Italian architecture built in 1800s and Georges Hotel (a design boutique hotel) for drinks over views

Visit Asli Tunca’s luxury interior boutique which is located in the residence that is decorated with a modernized Ottoman style

  • Nisantasi

Beymen is a very popular high end department store

Haremlique for high quality bed and bath products

Yastik by Rifat Ozbek for hand woven pillows with Ikats and Suzani embroideries

Machka and Yargici are ladies’ favourite Turkish stores, you can find both in Nisantasi. You can have lunch in Delicatessen or Beymen Brasserie while you are here.

If you are into Turkish style decoration items, one store to visit is Pasabahce. There is another great store you should visit called HirefThis store is not in Nisantasi but in a shopping mall called Istinye Park.

Midnight Express is another favourite boutique of my wife carrying a good selection of Turkish and foreign designers.

Fey: A vintage boutique highly coveted by my wife

Modern Museums: Both are on Bosphorus and have great exhibitions all year round.

  • Istanbul Modern
  • Sabanci Museum

WHERE TO STAY

If you want to be close to the old city and museums, you should stay at Sultanahmet and Hotel Amira is the best place to stay here.

They are currently number one on TripAdvisor and they treat their guests like family.

Alternatively, depending on your budget you may like to stay in Kempsinki Ciragan Palace. It used to be an Ottoman Palace and is situated on the Bosphorus.

All the best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Handy Guide for Singapore

Singapore is the food capital of Asia and it has many good restaurants.

I have been asked many times by travellers to Singapore which restaurants/bars I recommend, so I thought it would be nice to post this week’s article on this subject.

There are, of course, many good restaurants in Singapore and these are only my TOP restaurants.

I hope this article will be your small handy guide for restaurants/bars in Singapore.

1- Akashi

IMG_7317

Akashi is a Japanese restaurant located under Orchard Parade Hotel.

If you are a sushi lover, I think they are one of the world’s best.

In contrast to the restaurant’s simple design, the food is sophisticated and delicious.

I would order ikura sushi, tako sushi, spider maki, reserve California roll, sliced beef and gyoza.

Akashi’s wine menu is rich. Wine lovers will like the variety of the choice.

Your bill will show value for money, unless you order a bottle of Dom Perignon or Petrus.

2- Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson is a Thai restaurant located near Dempsey Hill.

Dempsey Hill used to be military barracks: after soldiers left the area, they were converted into a restaurant neighbourhood.

Jim Thompson restaurant is located in an exotic traditional building.

Jim Thompson also has an interesting story. He was an American businessman who help to revitalise the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. He disappeared during a trip to the Cameroon Highlands in Malaysia, and has been never found.

Initially, Thompson was in Thailand due to his duty as a CIA agent in the region. I would highly recommend that you visit his house in Bangkok, Thailand.

Coming back to food, I would order pattaya set for starter, pomelo or green mango salad, beef green curry, Thai style rib-eye steak and stir-fried morning glory.

I am not a big dessert fan, but you should try Thai coconut ice cream here.

Singha beer or one of their nice cocktails can complement your delicious food at Jim Thompson.

3- Blu Kouzina

This is a great, real Greek restaurant on Bukit Timah Road.

It is run by Greeks and the food is authentically very Greek, and delicious.

You can order anything that you would order in a Greek restaurant and enjoy it.

It is a bit pricey, but given that you do not have much choice in Greek food in Singapore, it is fortunate to have such a great restaurant.

4- Pasta Brava

Past Brava is an Italian restaurant established by an Italian gentleman in 1993.

It may sound absurd to go to an Italian restaurant when you travel all the way down to Singapore, but you won’t be disappointed.

The great variety of pastas, along with the rich wine menu, make it one of my top five restaurants in Singapore.

5- Chang Korean BBQ

Chang Korean BBQ is located at the heart of Dempsey Hill.

If you like meat and if you like to cook your own meal, it is a great place.

Every table has its own BBQ and you can sizzle your chosen dish your own way.

Indoor BBQs are fuelled by coal, while outdoors they run on gas. It is up to you which you choose.

Wagyu rib-eye and Wagyu galbi are a must to try!

Drinks:

The Lantern Bar, a rooftop bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, is a good choice if you like posh places. It has a perfect view of the Singapore marina and a great range of drinks.

Club Street is a street dedicated to bars and restaurants in Singapore. While there are a great many bars and restaurants on it, I would recommend La Terrazza Rooftop bar. It is a cosy, small, local rooftop bar.

It is important to mention that Singapore is all about Hawker Centres and you should try one of the Hawker Centres, according to its proximity to where you stay.

This week, I am travelling and I am sharing this post from my beloved London!

All the best from London.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

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