Turk is the fabulous restaurant of chef Fatih Tutak in the bustling city of Istanbul. Fatih demonstrates his intense love for Turkish products and his deep knowledge of cooking techniques gained during tenures as a chef in restaurants and hotels across the globe. Don’t expect to eat food you are familiar with in Turk. Prepare for dishes that surprise one after the other with amazing and unique tastes, textures and ingredients. Futuristic Turkish cuisine as the chefs calls it, but then at its absolute best.
Location & Interior
It is hard not to fall in love with the beautiful city of Istanbul. It is one of the only cities in the world which is spread over two different continents. Split by the Bosphorus strait, one part of Istanbul is in Europe, while the other part is in Asia. Around the Bosphorus, tourists can find a vibe which is very similar as the atmosphere which you might know from the French or the Italian Riviera. The Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Galata Tower and the Spice Bazaar are only a few of the highlights which make Istanbul a fabulous choice for a city trip. And then we did not yet mention the food…
Turk is located in an area called Sisli which is part of Bomonti, one of the central districts in Istanbul. Bomonti is an upcoming and booming neighborhood, which is mainly residential but where you can also find office buildings. In one of those office buildings, Fatih Tutak created Turk. The chef chose this location for his restaurant because he wanted it to be at a place for which guests need to do effort to find it. He wanted to avoid a connection with the traditional tourist hotspots of the city, so that a visit to his restaurant really becomes a journey for the guests.
Once inside the restaurant, you notice that there are no windows in the dining room. This is no coincidence. Tutak wanted to make sure that his guests would focus on the food and the experience of Turk instead of the nice views of the surrounding city. The atmosphere in the restaurant is rather dark, with nice accents created by subtle lights that create a warm and cozy atmosphere. A lot of wood and glass is used in the interior design of the restaurant. Main attraction points are definitely the nice open kitchen which boosts of activity during service and where Fatih Tutak steers his team towards a perfect service. On the side of the dining room there is a huge bar and opposite of the bar, you see big wine fridges which host many labels of Turkish wine.
The Chef & the team
Tutak was born in Istanbul in 1985. Already at a young age, he developed a passion for cooking. The real trigger was the smell of onions in the kitchen of his mother. That smell mesmerized him and he knew, he wanted to be in the kitchen for the rest of his life. Touching products and creating something nice with them, made him happy. He learned very fast that by sharing the food he created, he could build a connection with the people around him and that was for him the best way to express himself. The chef considers cooking as a way to show his art, his feelings and his passion to the world.
He went four years to culinary school in Bolu, close to Ankara. After graduating, Fatih worked for six years in several restaurants in Istanbul. But then it was time to explore the world. First he moved to China and worked as a chef in the hotel industry there. He wanted to learn about Asian cuisine and was convinced that China was the perfect spot to do that. But quite fast, he got attracted by the Japanese culture and cuisine. So, when he found an opportunity to work with chef Seiji Yamamoto of Nihonryori RyuGin, considered to be one of the best Japanese restaurants in the world, it was a logic step to move to Tokyo. Tutak worked in RyuGin for six months without salary. But he learned a lot and still calls it today the biggest experience of his life. From Japan he moved to Singapore, where he became the executive sous chef of the amazing Marina Bay Sands hotel. That experience enabled him to improve his management skills but rather fast he felt that he could not focus enough on cooking. He was more a manager than a chef, and that had to change. A change that came on his path with his relocation to Copenhagen where he had the chance to work in the eponymous restaurant Noma of godchild René Redzepi for five months.
The wanderlust of Fatih Tutak did not stop there. From Copenhagen, he moved to Hong Kong where he was chef in an Australian bistro. This was the last stop, before he moved to Bangkok and The House on Sathorn, the place where his culinary career really took off. He started the restaurant from scratch and cooked it into the top of Asia. The food he served at first, was based on his travels in Asia. However, his Turkish roots inspired him to one day change the whole concept of the restaurant and to start cooking Turkish food. During those years, he got many cooks from Turkey who came to his restaurant for an internship. This made him realize that he could be an inspiration for many young Turkish chefs that aspire a culinary career just like he did. This was the trigger for Tutak to decide to move back to Istanbul and to start restaurant Turk there. An investor was found and the rest is history. In the meanwhile, the chef is working with a team of 28 people, of which 14 chefs and 14 front of house staff, all of them Turkish people.
Every dish that is served in Turk represents the typical tastes of the Turkish cuisine, but not in the traditional way. New techniques are created by the chef and his team to enhance the taste and texture of the local products they use. In a similar way as what Ferran Adria did in El Bulli, Fatih has the ambition to create cooking techniques that one day will become mainstream and that will be used in restaurants around the globe.
During our visit, we tasted one of his signature dishes which is mussels doma. Rice, onion, mussel meat, mussel stock, wine leaves, black pepper and salt is cooked together. Mussels are glazed and grilled over charcoal. The rice is served together with the mussels and kombu in edible mussel shells created from caramelized onion, squid ink, tamarind and raisin. The result is a surprising tasty snack which is served at the beginning of the menu in Turk.
The chef is also particularly proud about an eggplant dish that took three years of research to bring it to the level the chef wanted it to be. Preparing the dish takes two full days of hard work. He makes tarhana from smoked eggplant. Eggplants are then pressed with salt during one night. The day after, they are fried with red basil oil and then glazed with the tarhana. After cooking them in an oven for three hours, the eggplants are put on a charcoal grill and glazed again. To finish it off, Tutak puts sugar on the eggplants and burns the sugar with fire.
To be inspired for the creation of these kind of dishes, the chef locks himself the whole day in a room without eating. He thinks about a specific product and how he can turn it into a wonderful dish. Once that dish is created in his mind, he contacts the team, shares his ideas and they start developing. After tasting, they optimize the recipe till the new creation is ready to go on the menu. Turk only serves one menu. There is a vegetarian option, but the chef prefers not to serve it. Meat and fish is inherent in his cooking style. He considers a menu as a movie. Who does not like the movie, should not visit the theatre.
Sample degustation menu:
Tutak is strongly convinced that products should not travel too far as he wants to serve them when they are at their absolute best. As a consequence, most of the produce he uses, is sourced less then 200 kilometers around the restaurant. Except blackberries that come from Izmir because that is the only location in Turkey where their quality matches his high standards. The chef goes personally to the farms or to the fishermen he collaborates with to make sure that he finds the best and freshest products around. He buys vegetables and fruits when they are at their best and uses cooking techniques such as fermentation or pickling to preserve them to use them during the winter. He insists to use products which are grown without the use of pesticides, because he wants to respect the environment. In the morning Tutak visits the local fish markets and checks what is available. Immediately he calls his team to tell them how to start prepping for the dishes he will create with the products he just found.
Service & Wine
The vibe of Turk is silent and cool. You could call it a minimalistic atmosphere, but still the professional staff succeeds in creating an environment where there is also place for fun. The service is extremely attentive and could best be described as silent luxury in a friendly way. Turkish hospitality at its best.
The enthusiast sommelier demonstrates in depth knowledge about Turkish wines and guides guests in a perfect manner through the wine list which consists of 220 labels of local wine. With his help, guests succeed in picking a bottle which matches their taste profile. However, more adventurous diners can leave it all in the hands of the sommelier and go for the wine pairing, where a great glass of Turkish wine is perfectly paired with every phenomenal dish that leaves the kitchen of this impressive restaurant.
Turk gives you the possibility to discover a menu consisting only of Turkish products, unique cooking techniques and intense flavor profiles that you have never tasted before and this in a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Istanbul. Chef Fatih Tutak has created a unique space where he and his team demonstrate every single service their incredible passion for the amazing products Turkey has to offer and their unbelievable knowledge how to turn these products with unique techniques in taste experiences you will never forget. Hearing the stories behind the food from the friendly staff during a perfectly orchestrated dinner service, makes a visit to Turk an experience of a lifetime that should not be omitted on your bucket list.