2 **

Nothing sets the nerves atingle quite like the chance discovery of a new ethnic restaurant in Istanbul, no matter how many times you’ve been sucked in before. To sit outside a cafe soaking up the meyhane atmosphere of Asmalımescit (Asmalımescit Mahallesi Sofyalı Sokak No: 20)
but with a dish of noodles….Ah, how international.

First impressions promised much; a menu where nothing was expensive and four dishes sporting a Beware Chili label. A slight dip in confidence at the realisation that there’d be no beer to wash down the Chinesefest but we dared to order two of the fabled spicy dishes, the hot and sour soup, and the Manchurian Chicken.

The soup got off to a good start, it boded well enough to cover the yufka wrapped spring rolls’ (are paper thin spring roll wrappers really so bothersome to import?) average performance. Ginger vegetable salad with sesame seeds took up the baton and ran with it past the tasteless Chinese soy vegetable salad. But the Manchurian Chicken limped home in last place. It managed to activate not a single one of the tastes, not sweet, not sour, not salty and not spicy and the chicken was tender to the point of deep suspicion and could have been quorn or some other fungal meat substitute.

There was only one dessert option and, suckers to the last, we tried the fried icecream. İt was a hollow ball of too thick batter with a kernel of icecream remaining; there is a real art to this dessert’s cooking time that was totally missed. Served with fake tasting strawberry sauce, it coated the teeth and left an impression that lasted way longer than the meal.

The low prices come with small portions so you’d need to order a few to be full, which increases the probability of getting ones with flavor. It’s a shame the genius that inspired the restaurant’s gloriously un PC logo** doesn’t extend to the food.


** I can’t find this on the web, more’s the pity, but from memory it was a line drawing of a Chinese face with chopsticks in V shapes to make narrowed eyes.

To read the story behind this review, go here.


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