The ubiquitous Turkish gozleme stand at festivals and markets around Australia has become a bit of a running joke. What, for instance, are they doing at a Chinese New Year festival? Or at the Night Noodle Markets? Do they legitimately have a place at the French Food Fair? However out of place they may be at various festivals, there’s no denying that gozleme is freaking amazing and it was a must-have while in Turkey.
We were drawn into Hala Manti ve Ev Yemekleri Salonu (what a mouthful!) in Istanbul for dinner one night as we saw an old Turkish lady making gozleme in the restaurant on a proper gozleme pan like this. That was reason enough for us to go in! We started with a drink each, ordering a lemonade in the hopes that it would be house-made. Oh well, uludag is as good a soft drink as any!
K ordered the Lentil Soup – again! It was much the same as the other soups he’d been having during our time in Istanbul, but this one benefited from the addition of a few extra herbs and spices for more flavour.
I wanted the Stuffed Peppers with Rice, as we hadn’t yet had any Turkish dolma during our time in Istanbul – a travesty! Unfortunately these didn’t quite live up to expectations, as the peppers were quite cold and slimy after refrigeration. While I can understand that this is a dish often served pre-prepared, there’s a difference between cold and cool dolmas. Refrigerator-cold is not the way it should be served!
Deciding we needed more vegetables, we also ordered the Meatballs with Mixed Vegetables – not realising of course, that ‘vegetables’ would be limited to potatoes, carrots and what looked like tinned peas. This was a bit disappointing – while I understand that this style of dish isn’t conducive to using fresh green leafy vegetables, using vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, beans or capsicum could have worked just as well and been a bit healthier as well.
This was the main point of our visit to Hala though – a Lamb Gozleme. Thankfully this lived up to expectations – the thinnest and crispiest flatbread stuffed with rich savoury spiced lamb mince. This is the reason why people visit Hala, for the simple but delicious gozleme, not for any of the other filler dishes on the menu. I’ve learned my lesson!
Visit Hala by all means if you’re in Istanbul – just don’t make the mistake of ordering anything but gozleme! You can order it takeaway as a snack, but be prepared to wait for a little while as there is a high demand for the services of the one old Turkish woman responsible for making each and every gozleme.
Hala Manti ve Ev Yemekleri Salonu is located at 26 Cukurlu Cesme Sokak, Beyoglu, Istanbul.