Tried and Tested: Bilice Kebap

This kebab place is not for the faint-hearted, appetite-wise anyway. Several summers ago while in Istanbul, Turkey, I stumbled across this amazing little kebab place that was just up the road from my hotel in the Galata/Taksim area and what a find it was! This tiny little hole in the wall may look unassuming and simple from the outside (there isn’t even a wall separating the downstairs dining area from the street, and the seating is made up of basic wooden tables and chairs) but it is a true hidden gem producing some of the best kebabs I’ve ever had

Within minutes of ordering our kebab platter, after the sounds of some fervent chopping and slicing coming from the tiny open-plan kitchen area just behind us, one of the most enormous silver trays I’ve ever seen was gently plonked down on the table. Tomato salad, crunchy grilled green chillis, fresh grilled tomatoes, warm slivers of red pepper, all begging to be dipped into with some warm, thin, freshly baked Turkish bread. We eagerly tucked in, and a few minutes later the skewers arrived: Fragrant, juicy and full of flavour, these were some of the best kebabs I ever had

We had ordered a variety of chicken, meat, and so on, and the platter was big enough for us to share between four (rather hungry) people, and was it good. With that perfect chargrilled look, these things were just bursting with smokey flavour, just hot enough not to sear the tongue but begging to be wrapped up in the warm bread with eager fingers, with a dab of baba ghanoush here and a dollop of gavurdagi salatasi (spicy tomato salad) there. Suffice it to say, we polished off the entire plate easily, rounding it all off with a cup of hot, sweet Turkish tea. It cost us about AED50 per person (US$14).

In fact, it was so good we actually went back the next day for more – and ordered TWO platters between a group of us. Don’t judge – if you’d been there, you would have done the same! I’m definitely going back there the next time I’m in Istanbul (quite possibly with loose-waisted trousers on too).

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