Michelin Guide gave stars to 5 restaurants in Istanbul

The 2023 restaurants of the Michelin Guide Istanbul, which was highly anticipated and announced for the first time in Turkiye, were announced with a special award ceremony at Zorlu Performing Arts Center, hosted by Oylum Talu.

Michelin Guide, the world’s most prestigious restaurant rating system, which gives stars to luxury restaurants, evaluated the applicants for a star after listing Istanbul as the 38th destination.

Today, 53 restaurants selected as a result of this evaluation were announced with an award ceremony. Michelin Guide, which always highlights local cuisines and talented professionals and searches for excellent dining experiences around the world, will contribute to promoting the gastronomic experience in Istanbul, where the love of food is a traditional element, with its Istanbul selection.

Ahmet Dede, who has garnered stars in the past years with the concept of Turkish cuisine served in his restaurant named “Dede” in Baltimore, wished success to his friends on social media and said that he was impatient for the result.

At the end of the night, the restaurant received 5 stars. 4 restaurants (Mikla, Nicole, Araka, Neolokal) were awarded 1 star and Fatih Tutak was awarded 2 stars.

The only female chef who won a star was the owner of Araka, Zeynep Pinar Taddemir. She told how she became the “chef of the kitchen” as a woman and talked about how there should be no “woman” or “man” in the kitchen.

While 10 restaurants won the big gourmand award, Neolokal added a green star to its red star due to its pioneering approach to sustainable gastronomy.

Apart from these, 38 more restaurants were recommended.

TURK Fatih Tutak Stands Out With Two MICHELIN Stars

Located in the Bomonti district of Sisli on the European Side, TURK Fatih Tutak offers a modern and sophisticated selection expertly reinterpreted by chef Fatih Tutak for gourmets who want to taste typical Turkish flavors. Working shoulder to shoulder with distinguished names from the world cuisine in his international career, this talented professional returned to Turkiye in 2019 and opened his fine-dining restaurant. The chef’s signature cuisine, which includes delicious, acidic and smoked notes, is very sincere, meticulous, and more importantly, MICHELIN GUIDE expresses the chef’s devotion to his region and roots. The famous ravioli, which he prepared in honor of his mother, has become iconic, just like the dessert served in the open kitchen.

4 Restaurants Earned a MICHELIN Star

4 restaurants that reflect the excellence of Istanbul’s cuisine diversity, while at the same time keeping their commitment to local products and flavors, were awarded with a MICHELIN star. Located in Yenikoy, Araka offers a quiet environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Chef Zeynep Pinar Tasdemir, who focuses on seasonal vegetables and herbs in the menu, has created a very personal and bold cuisine. Hot, sour, and spicy flavors are wonderfully balanced and combined, such as zahter-flavored, marinated vegetables, and pumpkin puree served with warm olives in a spicy sauce.

Mikla, in Beyoglu Pera, handles Anatolian traditions with an innovative touch. Celebrating all the richness and diversity of Turkish products, the creations offer an explosion of flavor. Lightly boiled and then grilled, octopus, purslane, and pickled green bean salad with apple cider vinegar are just one example of a dish that won the appreciation of MICHELIN Guide inspectors.

Located in Salt Galata, Neolokal also serves a typical Anatolian repertoire. Bold techniques and culinary innovations offer dishes intended to be a permanent bridge between tradition and modernity, such as a lightly spiced ‘cupcake’ made from bulgur wheat and a delicious chicken preparation, accompanied by a full-bodied chicken demi glas topped with rich creamy velouté and potato flakes.

Finally, Nicole at Tomtom, Beyoglu offers a sophisticated cuisine where traditional Turkish recipes meet Middle Eastern spices. Chef Serkan Aksoy, who started his career in Bodrum, pays particular attention to the origin of his products and continues to work with an ethical network of local producers. Served with soft lamb meat accented with smoked yoghurt and grape juice, their dolmas truly captivated the Michelin Guide teams.

Neolokal’s sustainability initiatives were awarded with MICHELIN Green Star

Aiming to highlight restaurants with a more sustainable gastronomy approach in their selection, the MICHELIN Guide announced a new award in 2020: MICHELIN Green Star. Thanks to its environmentally friendly and ethical approaches, Neolokal was deemed worthy of this prestigious award. In addition to the carefully selected producers in this restaurant, chef Maksut Askar and his team are determined to preserve and promote the Turkish culinary heritage, some of which are in danger of being lost.

10 restaurants were awarded Bib Gourmand

A particularly popular distinction among MICHELIN Directory users, Bib Gourmand highlights restaurants that offer great food at reasonable prices. A total of 10 venues in Istanbul were awarded for their excellent price-performance balance.

Those who love traditional Turkish cuisine should definitely go to Pandeli, located just above the Spice Bazaar and decorated with magnificent blue ceramic decorations.

The popular Karakoy Lokantasi won the appreciation of the inspectors with its perfectly prepared appetizers and its menu with an outstanding price-quality balance.

Alaf has a slightly more trendy ambiance. The magnificent dishes prepared by Chef Deniz embody many influences and perfectly complement the variety of cocktails on offer.

Run by Chef Volkan Ture, Aheste has a more romantic atmosphere where you can sample Turkish specialties as well as a few original creations, including vegetarian dishes.

Innovation lovers should not miss Tershane in Karakoy. Located on the eighth floor of the Momento Hotel, the restaurant offers a breathtaking view of the city’s historic skyline, as well as a generous cuisine, delicious flavors, quality appetizers and well-cooked meat.

Cretan’s only feature is not its magnificent terrace, which is open only in summer. Besides, the generous appetizer menu is excellent and simply combines traditional classics with more innovative creations.

Located in the Kucukyali district on the Asian side, Calipso is an excellent fish and seafood restaurant that attracts Istanbulites seeking peace and tranquillity. The appetizers are quite delicious, just like their fragrant salads. But of course, the real heroes of the show are fresh fish and seafood cooked with precision and dexterity.

Located in the heart of the popular Cukurcuma district, Cuma offers plates inspired by Mediterranean and international cuisine. Here, the best seasonal produce comes to the table as tapas, ceviche, pizza, sophisticated pasta dishes and more.

Food lovers can try snacks and much more at SADE Five Seas Cuisine. Anatolian cuisine is showcased here with delicately prepared specialties, including spicy tongue.

Finally, Aman da Bravo presents a typical Turkish vision of modern bistronomy. Locally sourced produce meets delicious, friendly and simple plates. The chef also loves to add exotic touches to the plates.

A complete list of 53 restaurants that put Istanbul on the world culinary map:

TURK Fatih Tutak (2 red stars)
St. Regis Brasserie
SADE Bes Denizler Mutfagi (big gourmand)
1924 Istanbul
Cok Cok Thai
Cuma (big gourmand)
Mikla (1 red star)
Kubbeli Lounge
Nicole (1 red star)
Yeni Lokanta
Eleos Beyoglu
Sofyali 9Aheste (big gourmand)
Karakoy Lokantasi (big gourmand)
Neolokal (1 red star+ 1 green star)
Tershane (big gourmand)
Pandeli (big gourmand)
Lokanta 1741
Park Fora
Giritli (big gourmand)
Sunset Grill & Bar
Inari Omakase Kurucesme
Alaf (big gourmand)
Aman da Bravo (big gourmand)
Kiss the frog
Rumelihisari Iskele
Araka (1 red star)
Calipso (big gourmand)
Balikci Kahraman

The statement from the Michelin Guide website is as follows:

Istanbul, which connects two continents with its population of more than 15 million, is a mixture of cultures unlike anywhere else in the world. Due to this strategic location, the gastronomy scene in Istanbul has its roots in culinary traditions and has continuously developed over the centuries. With its incredible variety of stuffed mezzes, appetizers and salads, plant-based recipes, countless desserts with fresh and dried fruits, and recipes honoring fish and top quality meats, Istanbul has the most special place in the gastronomy scene.

In addition to staying true to this culinary heritage, Istanbul offers gourmets the opportunity to taste the creative recipes of brave, innovative and talented local and foreign chefs. These varieties, which food lovers can try in the charming streets of Sultanahmet and Pera or in the lively districts of Karaköy, Moda and Cihangir, remind us that Istanbul has turned eating into a real way of life.

How was the Michelin Guide born?

The Michelin Guide was first published in 1900 in France. Brothers Andre Michelin and Edouard Michelin published this guide to increase the number of cars, which were only 2200 in France at the time, and to let more people know that the car is a means of transportation that makes life easier.

The first guide, published 399 pages, contained all the information needed for a drive through the French towns and cities of the time, when gasoline was sold in liter containers in pharmacies. The guide had 33 pages of information about tires. The remainder had restaurants attached to hotels, information on dozens of towns, and maps.

As the tire company grew, so did the guide. He became paid in 1920. As the guide became very popular, the brothers paid food inspectors who were secretly visiting restaurants and decided to switch to a rating system. In 1926, the single-star system was switched to the current three-star system in 1931. Three stars were first awarded in the 1933 edition. One star meant “high quality food, worth a visit”, two stars meant “an excellent meal worth changing your course” and three stars meant “extraordinary cuisine worth a special trip”. The popularity of the guide grew so much that restaurants suddenly found themselves competing with each other.

How to enter the Michelin Guide?

Restaurants that qualify for the Michelin Guide are determined by inspectors whose identities are kept confidential. Inspectors visit restaurants, just like a customer, without anyone knowing. Even Michelin’s top executives are unaware of the identity of these inspectors. Inspectors independently rate the city’s best restaurants based on 5 criteria. These are listed as the quality of the products, the mastery of cooking techniques, the harmony of flavors, the character of the chef in the kitchen and the consistency between the menu and the visits of the inspectors.

What is a Michelin star?

One of the most prestigious lists of the world food industry, the Michelin star is the most famous of the criteria used by an expert jury to determine the best restaurants. The Michelin star, which the most respected restaurants and chefs can hold, has been used to measure the most successful food services in Europe and the world for more than 100 years.

One star means “A very good restaurant in its field”, two stars means “So perfect a meal that it is definitely worth changing your course” and three stars means “An outstanding cuisine is worth a special journey”. Stars are awarded to venues, not chefs. Not only the food but every detail from service to cleaning rules affects the scoring.

Having a Michelin star is considered one of the greatest achievements in the food industry and means prestige all over the world.

Which country has the most Michelin stars?

According to 2020 data, France leads the list of countries with the most Michelin star restaurants. Other countries in the top five are Japan, Italy, Germany and the USA.

Are there any Turks in the world who have received a Michelin Star?

There is no Michelin star restaurant in Turkey. However, there are 3 Turkish chefs who received the Michelin Star for their restaurant abroad: Ali Gungormus, the chef who received a star for his restaurant Le Canard Nouveau in Hamburg, but later founded the restaurant ‘Pageou’ in Munich, the other one is Serkan Guzelcoban, who was appreciated with his disabled employees, and finally Ahmet Dede, who garnered the stars with the concept of Turkish cuisine he presented at his restaurant named Dede in Baltimore.

16 of the best Michelin-starred restaurants

All of the restaurants on our list of the 16 best with Michelin stars have excellent service, all dishes are extraordinarily delicious, the atmosphere is extraordinary and they offer their guests an unforgettable experience. So much so that the 3-Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Masa in New York, one of the most expensive restaurants in the world, takes a deposit of $250 per person at the time of reservation. If the reservation is cancelled, the deposit is forfeited. Despite all these conditions, reservations are quite full.

Source: Haberturk / Translated by Irem Yildiz

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