Sarıyer Börek

3 ***

Börek, you can eat it almost everywhere and it’s always amazing – a greasy, salty, pastry indulgence that fills you up until dinner time. Not something to travel for you might think, especially not all the way out to Sarıyer.  But Akbil full, stomach empty I took the bus from Taksim along the Bosphorous.

An hour into the journey, I was sure I must have left Istanbul, 90 minutes and two micro-climates later, I was about to get my passport ready when we finally arrived.

Known for its fish restaurants, Sarıyer is also home to a börek innovation not found anywhere else in the city.  Someone came up with the idea of combining ground meat with currants, and the Famous Sarıyer Börek was born.  Although there are several börekçisis touting Famous Sarıyer Börek since the year blah blah, the original is the one near the mosque dating back to 1895. It took 30 years for its most obvious rival börekçisi to work out the intricacies of the Sarıyer Börek recipe and open across the street in 1928.

The 1928 Börekcisi commands the most attention, with its shiny yellow facade and modern interior.  If you want the famous, 19th Century one, you need to be a bit sharper eyed to pick it out as it’s tiny and a lot less glamourous.  Your efforts will be confirmed by its walls full of newspaper clippings proclaiming it as the first and best.  However, since the 1928 one poached the cooks from the original, locals swear it’s now the superior one.  I have to agree, but it is possible that having 2 portions in the same day dulled my tastebuds.

Worth the trek just for the greenery and beautiful old waterfront Yalıs (Turkish old style wooden houses) on the way, the bus is still a long haul in traffic from Taskim and almost as long if you cut out some scenery and take the Metro to Levent 4 and then a Dolmuş. In summer though, taking the ferry from Beşiktaş or Eminönü will feel like a real daytrip. Stomach full, Akbil half empty, wallet full at under 5 TL per portion.

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