Where to eat in Istanbul: Chef Somer Sivrioglu

Chef Somer Sivrioglu spent his first 25 years in Turkey, where his mother was a successful restaurant consultant. In 2007, he opened the fine dining modern Turkish Efendy Restaurant in Sydney's Balmain, and became a popular TV and radio food show personality. He co-authored the cookbook, Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish Cuisine. In February this year, Sivrioglu opened Anason at Barangaroo.

See www.anason.com.au

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TABLE IN ISTANBUL?

The front table at Bebek Balikci, not because it's the best restaurant in Istanbul but it is a ritual to catch up with close friends every time I land in Istanbul – and I love drinking raki on the Bosphorus shores. That's when I say "I am home". Of course, the hottest table is at Mehmet Gurs' Mikla as they are deservedly in the Top 100 Restaurants, the only Turkish restaurant in 2015.

See www.en.bebekbalikci.com ; www.miklarestaurant.com.

THE LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY OF THE PAST YEAR?

I loved the renovated Agora Meyhanesi in Balat - the area, the mezebar, the food and the service were all magical. I also love Maksut Askar's neolokal in Salt Galata as the favourite new restaurant. See www.balatagorameyhanesi.com; www.neolokal.com.

WHAT IS ISTANBUL'S BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET?

I would say the district, Kadikoy, although it is hardly a secret now thanks to Musa Dagdeviren's Ciya restaurants and the best street market anywhere in the world – and no, I am not saying it just because I am from there. 

PLACE TO GO ON A DAY OFF?

Princes' Islands by ferry and in particular Burgaz, the least crowded of them all, great walks, no cars, serene environment. A great antidote to the hustle and bustle of the old city. 

FAVOURITE INDULGENCE IN ISTANBUL?

Fresh fish from Bosphorus, and they all change every month, but in general I crave for Barbounia in May, Lufer (bluefish) in October and Kalkan (Turbot) in March. Once you eat fresh, seasonal fish in Istanbul, you'll wonder why Turkish seafood is such a lesser known part of our culinary culture overseas. 

PLACE TO GO FOR A BIG NIGHT OUT?

Istanbul is known for its mega-clubs like Reina and Laila but I prefer smaller bars like Lucca in Bebek. It's more than 10 years old which makes it an institution in the Istanbul scene, as new places open up every month. You can than continue to the stylish new bars along the Bosphorus like Hudson in Arnavutkoy and La Boom in Emirgan, and if you are game enough, try to sneak in to "Aramizda Kalsin" (between us) under La Boom hidden behind the pizza restaurant on the ground floor. See facebook.com/Luccastyle/; www.ukalife.com; www.laboomemirgan.com.

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BEST TIME TO VISIT, AND WHY, FOODWISE IN ISTANBUL?

Definitely before June and after September. The fishing ban is not on, there are far fewer tourists, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, it's either spring or autumn and balmy weather. 

WHAT SHOULD A VISITOR AVOID, FOOD-WISE, IN ISTANBUL?

If you eat mussel dolma, fried mussels or kokorec (lamb intestines) make sure you eat it at a very busy place frequented by locals. Do not go in to any restaurant with spruikers – good restaurants don't need them and bad ones cannot survive without them. 

WHAT'S HOT IN THE AREA RIGHT NOW?

Karakoy is getting all the attention at the moment but I am hearing that it's already "uncool" as Istanbul socialites are starting to talk about Arnavutkoy now. Also, if you are or know a member, Soho House is still one of the places to be.

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