Slow down for Istanbul cuisine

Slow down for Istanbul cuisine
Bonito confit and red lentil puree by Kantin in Istanbul.

Who says Turkish cuisine is all about meatballs and eggplant?

An international movement that started in 1986, slow food was introduced as an alternative to the fast food culture. Instead of good-to-go meals that are gulped down with little flavour or nutrition, one is encouraged to slow down and enjoy each morsel made from fresh ingredients, cooked with love.

Kantin in upmarket Nisantasi, Istanbul, is one such restaurant. It opened in 2000 with the intention of providing the neighbourhood with freshly cooked food. It started with just 39 seats but today, it can fit 80 diners, and encompasses a shop where guests can buy homemade stocks, salads, jams, pastries and its famous sourdough bread. Even the ketchup and mustard are made in-house, and all baked or roasted savoury dishes are made in a wood-burning oven.

Owner Semsa Denizsel prides herself on cooking with only the freshest of ingredients, using local and seasonal produce. Serving what's hailed as "new Istanbul cuisine", the food is based on Istanbul's heritage which has the benefit of Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Turkish influences.

Make sure you have time on your hands, otherwise the process of savouring Kantin's delectable dishes would be lost on the uninitiated.

Our degustation dinner started with cocktails and gruyere and kaçar cheese from Kars, served together with the season's first pressed olive oil from Ayvalik, unbrined green olives and canapes. This paved the way for a meal which seemed never-ending as plate after plate of food kept appearing - there was Bonito confit and red lentil puree, wood-roasted organic pumpkin and oyster mushrooms, caramelised pears, kokorec en Papillotte, Siyez pilav with prawns and calamari - not to mention a splendid array of desserts and free-flowing wine.

The menu changes constantly depending on what's fresh for the day. Kantin is surely one stop you wouldn't want to miss if you're a foodie. Check out

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