1. MIDYE DOLMA
Stuffed mussels are a must. This dish is basic street food, very common, available at every street corner, especially at night, when people leave the bars and nightclubs. The mussels are stuffed with rice, currants, dill, lemon, lots of olive oil, various vegetables, such as tomato or capsicum and onion. It's very flavoursome and cheap – less than $5 for a dozen mussels. Find this at Taksim Square.
2. LAKERDA, REFIK RESTAURANT ON ASMALI MESCIT
The fish – from the family of the tuna – is cured in salt for at least a month; it is a very old-school recipe. Olive oil and lemon are also involved. You can find this mezze in most taverns (called a meyhane) around the city. The fish is served cold and quite salty, as a starter. See refikrestaurant.com
3. ARNAVUT CIGERI FROM ZARIFI
Pan-fried lamb liver is a favourite dish, using a lot of herbs, sumac, onion and yoghurt. I am serving my own adaptation of this dish at Yagiz and people are surprised to find they really enjoy eating liver, which is not that common in Australia. A traditional drink, raki, goes really well with the lamb liver. See zarifi.com.tr
4. MARINE LEVREK FROM ZARIFI
A very simple and delicious fish dish that you can find in most taverns. The fish is only lightly pickled so as to not lose the fresh flavour. I have adapted this dish in Yagiz as well, making it slightly more sophisticated.
5. TOPIK FROM GALATA MEYHANESI
For lunch or dinner, topik is a small traditional Turkish mezze, served in taverns. It is made of chickpea paste, onion, herbs and tahini, and served with Turkish bread. See galata.com.tr
6. KUZU TANDIR, NUSR-ET STEAKHOUSE
Lamb is the most popular meat in Turkey and this is definitely the most common way of cooking it: slow cooked with herbs and garlic. It is tender, juicy, very flavoursome. You can see whole lambs suspended over burning charcoal ovens, cooking for hours. We serve the whole shoulder of leg. It is a dish that is part of celebrations such as weddings or birthdays. Most of the Turkish food is meant to be shared, especially this dish. I really enjoy cooking whole lambs and the quality of the meat in Australia is exceptional. See nusr-et.com.tr
Karakoy Gulluoglu is the best place in Istanbul to buy baklava. Photo: Supplied
7. BAKLAVA FROM KARAKOY GULLUOGLU
I cannot forget our world famous dessert, the baklava. Baklava is made of layers of pastry with chopped nuts in between, served with honey or some other kind of sweet syrup, or ice-cream. The best place to buy baklava in Istanbul is Karakoy Gulluoglu, which is very close to the Bosphorus. The shop evokes the splendour of the Ottoman Empire. It is a family business that has been around for 200 years and the recipes have not changed. They serve a few different types of baklava, with pistachios or walnuts or other type of nuts. It is a beautiful way to finish a meal. See karakoygulluoglu.com/baklavas
Since arriving in Australia in 2009, Turkey-born chef Murat Ovaz has worked in some of the country's top kitchens, including the Four in Hand, with Colin Fassnidge, and as head chef of Melbourne's popular Turkish restaurant, Tulum. In October, Ovaz opened his own restaurant, Yagiz – named after his greatest influence, his grandfather – on Toorak Road, South Yarra.