Istanbul-born Somer Sivrioglu is chef and owner of Turkish restaurants Efendy and Anason. Efendy, in Sydney's inner west, has a menu that spans hot and cold mezes to mains cooked on the charcoal grill the traditional Turkish way. Anason is a seafood-focused and meze-driven Turkish bar located on the waterfront of The Streets of Barangaroo. See efendy.com.au and anason.com.au
DONER, KARADENIZ DONER, BESIKTAS MARKETS
If you think doner kebab is just greasy after-pub grub, try a Karadeniz doner to understand what good doner is. Master Asim has been working at this unassuming shop every day since 1973. He starts at 11am and sells out of 90 kilograms of doner by 3pm daily.
KUZU KOKOREC KANTIN, NISANTASI
In a city divided between workmen's lokantas serving traditional one-pot dishes and ultra-hip restaurants specialising in modern adaptations of Turkish food, Semsa Denizsel's Kantin is a haven that thrives by creating excellent versions of familiar flavours without needing to push boundaries. Denizsel's adaptation of my favourite street food kokorec (lamb intestines stuffed with chopped intestines and sweetbreads, cooked over charcoal), is legendary.
TOPIK, NEOLOKAL, GALATA
Maksut Askar and his dedicated young team at Neolokal are one of the leading forces of next-gen Turkish restaurants. Their version of Armenian meze topik (made with chickpeas, tahini and caramelised onions) is exceptional.
FISH SANDWICH, MIKLA, BEYOGLU
Mikla is hardly a secret being the only Turkish restaurant to be part of the prestigious World's 50 Best. Anyone visiting Istanbul has tried the famous fish sandwiches around Karakoy, but Mikla's version is a great example of street food innovation without sacrificing authenticity.
RAKI AND MEZES, ASMALI CAVIT, BEYOGLU
A meyhane is Istanbul's equivalent of a gastropub. It's where we meet and drink with friends. We typically drink the national drink, Raki, accompanied by array of cold and hot mezes. The essence of a good meyhane is freshly-made mezes, served with warm hospitality. There is no other meyhane that ticks all these three boxes with such finesse than Asmali Cavit.
CHICKEN PUDDING, OZKONAK, CIHANGIR
Yes, there is a milk pudding in Istanbul made with very fine shreds of chicken breast. No, it does not taste like chicken. Yes, it tastes delicious. The best version can be found at Ozkonak, a small pudding shop that also doubles as a tradesman's counter-style eatery.
REGIONAL DISHES, CIYA, KADIKOY
Musa Dagdeviren is the master chef of Turkish regional cooking. His three restaurants located next to each other in my 'hood are temples of culinary history and are a great way to learn about the amazing variety of regional food in Anatolia.