More than just Turkish delight


STANDING in queue at the grill station and discovering an unforgettable surprise among savoury offerings can influence the way you look at Turkish food.

The sweet Turkish pide, nestled among a few savoury pastries, has the ability to woo the unsuspecting diner in just one bite.

Finding sweetness as opposed to piquant flavours was a pleasant surprise, especially when it stops you in your tracks.

In fact, the gastronome is likely to question what the sweet pastry redolent with butter, and rich with tahini, pistachio, sugar and clotted cream was doing among a line-up of Tuzda Levrek (baked seabass in salt crust), pizza and kebab instead of being among desserts at the Turkish food promotion in Mosaic, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur.

The very tall chef Berk Alpay, from Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in Turkey, came to the pide’s defence explaining that to get its best taste, the pastry should be served hot from the oven.

And so the Turkish dessert got its pride of place among some heavyweights at the grill station.

Alpay together with guest chefs Habib Bilgin and Muhammet Baspinar from the luxurious five-star resort on Paradise Bay, on the idyllic Aegean coast, were only too happy to prepare an extra buttery pide for me, hot from the oven, when I returned for more of the good stuff.

With the pide out of the way at the dessert corner, the Kataifi Baklava, an equally nutty full flavoured treat that melts in the mouth, faced next to no competition.

The Sekerpare – mini semolina cake dipped in sugar syrup; Firin Sutlac – baked Turkish rice pudding; Kabak Tatlisi – pumpkin simmered in syrup and served with walnuts; Asure – chickpeas, rice, white bean, raisin and crushed wheat boiled in light syrup; Zerde – rose water, turmeric and pine nut and Ayva Tatlisi – baked fresh quince and grated apple in sugar syrup – are some of the other Turkish desserts.

The noticeable thing about this food promotion is that most of the dishes are predominantly meaty.

Generously flavoured with spices and herbs, Turkish food like the Kuzu Tandir (roasted lamb), Lamb Navam with Green Peas, Pilic Topkapi (stuffed chicken leg with spicy rice pilaf), Icli Kofte (bulgur wheat, onion, beef and walnut) and Kadinbudu Kofte (fried meatballs with rice) can quickly fill you up so the advice is to pace yourself when stopping at stations.

I chose to start off with the mains to quell hunger pangs quickly before moving on to discover the appetisers.

The Tuzda Levnek (baked seabass in salt crust) was overbearingly salty but the nicely marinated kebab with minced lamb and dry chilli flakes, lamb chop, chicken skewers as well as rice dishes made it easy to get accustomed to Turkish food.

The Perdeli Pilavi (pilaf covered with cripsy Turkish pastry) dotted with whole almonds is bound to attract passers-by because of how pretty it looks.

Not only was it attractive, it was worth a second round because it was also decadently tasty.

For those unfamiliar with traditional Turkish cheese, the chefs had brought with them Van Otlu Peyniri, Villager Goat Cheese, Izmir Tulum and Orgu Peyniri which were prettily arranged on a platter.

Crackers with sweet jam and dried fruits are available if you want to enjoy cheese with Turkish coffee or tea.

Those not into cheese can opt for other appetisers such as Merci Mek Koftesi (red lentil patties), Zeytinyagh Karisik (mixed vegetable stuffed with rice, grape leaves, eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper), Zetinyagh Enginar (artichokes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and olive oil) and Eco Gelin Gorba (spicy lentil soup).

Anawar Hossain from Booza Ice-Cream is ever ready with a smile, inviting diners to try some Turkish ice cream.

The thing is, Anawar is also a performer and teases diners with a show before presenting them with their reward.

Pretty Turkish decorative items from Blue Eyes Turkish Traditional Souvenirs add to the charm of the promotion, and are located at the restaurant’s entrance.

Turkish coffee and tea served by a pretty lady in traditional attire are also available.

Lunch is priced at RM128 nett per person while dinner is at RM158 nett per person.

The enticing array of authentic Turkish delicacies are available until Sunday.

MOSAIC, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. (Tel: 03-2179 8881). Business hours: 24 hours, daily.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement of StarMetro.

(THE STAR)

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