Jun 22, 2013

"Dine Like a Sultan" at Jumeirah's Turkish Village Restaurant

Located conveniently on Beach Road in Jumeirah, Turkish Village Restaurant is a neighborhood gem!  This authentic Turkish restaurant boasts some of the most gorgeous architecture remisncent of Ottoman palaces.  The fine details are really what make this place stand out as a delightful dining experience.  This restaurant project began in 2010, and three years later has opened its doors to the public with a very warm welcome. 
 The offer is just outstanding, and offers a cross cultural appeal to various ethnicities.  I have always been a big fan of Turkish cuisine, but my prior experiences here in Dubai have failed me.  This is a true representation of this fabulous fair and it also incorporates the rich and colorful history of its origins. Even the executive chef hails from Istanbul bringing all his trade secrets of the Bosphorus along with him.  With almost 40 years of experience, chef Mustafa Demirhan makes his fellow country men proud as he wonderfully demonstrated to us that evening.   
 After taking in the beauty of the restaurant and the firendly staff, we finally sat down to enjoy what was on offer, starting with the mezze.   We enjoyed a variety of goodies, however, the one that really stood out was the Yogurt with Purslane (hogweed), garlicky and slightly tart, it was an explosion of culinary delight.  Not only is this magical little weed incredibly tasty, but it also has a lot of nutritive value.  Mixed delicately with the wholesome yogurt and savory seasoning, I had to pace myself, as I knew there was so much more to come....  
 Some of the other starters that made a mark, were the grape leaves, shepards salad, and the Turkish labneh. You could actually taste the freshness! Although these items are common on many MiddleEastern menus, the Turkish style of preparation varies slightly.  There is a lot more use of tomatoes and peppers (capsicums) as well as the spice profiles. There is also a lot more focus on lemony undertones with Turkish, where the sumac spice is more common in flavors from the Levant.  Both types of cuisine play upon the sweet and sour factor, which are well balanced  in this display of loveliness.   
 The best part about the meal was the fresh bread that came streaming out of the kitchen every 20 minutes, and a good thing it did!  It was deliciously addicting, soft, and warm, the way bread should be.  This style of Turkish Pita was baked with an egg wash and topped with sesame and nigella seeds for an added dimension of flavor.  It was the perfect vehicle to enjoy the mezza, as well as the kebab which came later in the meal. 
Half-way through the mezza service, the waiters came over and set some wooden blocks onto the table. Little did we know these blocks were going to be used as a base for the meter long wooden plank topped by the Konya bread with mince lamb mixture (Etliekmek).  I can honestly say this is one of the best things I have ever eaten.  the buttery mince meat, the subtle spices, and the crunchy bread just brining it all together....I dreamed about this dish.  I eventually recruited some friends to join me for round two just a couple of days later. 
Then in stealth mode, the waiters snuck in to drop off another meaty delicacy onto the table, the ever popular Doner kebab.   Slow cooked on a verticle spit, then cut thinly into succulent meat shavings, Turkish Village uses only the finest beef in their version of this dish.   Glistening with it's natural juices and fat, the  meat was well seasoned, and totally hit the spot.  It was not as greasy as other Doners I have had, which was a pleasant surprise!  Even the rice pilaf seved along side was fluffy and buttery, which completed the dish perfectly.
These waiters were so well trained they knew exactly how to manuevar around and table and quickly swooped in with the last meter long kebab of the evening.   The house had recommended the Urfa kebab which is similar to Adana Kebab (named after their respective cities of origin) but less spicy.  The infamous "Meter of Meat" is one of Turkish Villages signature styles of preparation.  It arrived perfectly symmetrical with an aroma that hightened our senses for the next level of this authentic Turkish experience.  The waiters came around and served each one of us a portion, but even after everyone was served, it appeared as if we didn't even make a dent from the meter long platter. 

Upon first bite, my initial reaction was simply...WOW!  I couldn't believe how full of flavor this lamb actually was.  The heartiness of the kebab was overwhelming, I felt as if I was having some out of body culinary experience.  I ate and ate and ate, I think I consumed more meat on this particular evening than I had the past 2 months.     

During the course of the indulgent meat feast, we were also informed all the meat was imported from Turkey, which made a HUGE difference here.  Not only was this exemplary technique, the ingredients used in every dish were all pure, fresh, and honest.  The owner and chef took pride in their work, and  and it really showed through with the food. 
At this point I had gone past the point of a food coma, this was a whole different level.  But I have to admit I enjoyed every bit of it.  I normally have self control when it comes to portion control, but the cuisine at Turkish Village is irresistible, we truly did "Dine like Sultans".   To add to that was the last and final course for the evening dessert!   

The house really pushed for us to try the Kunafa.  I am not one to turn away from recommendations, especially since the rest of the meal had been so stellar.  But my experiences with Kunafa in Dubai have been mediocre.  Often too sweet or too heavy or too dry, it has alwasy been a dissapointment. 

Since we had trusted the restuarant so far, it wouldn't hurt to give this last one a go as well.  And upon my first bite of this crispy sweet treat, my views on Kunafa had been completely changed.  The perfect amount of sweet scented syrup, soaked up into the toasted vermicilli, layered with salty cheese, all topped with Turkish whipped butter cream and ground pistachios, it was pure decadence. 
This was one of the most pleasant surprises I had experienced after a very long time.  Turkish Village Restaurant is a must whether you live in Jumeirah, Marina, Abu Dhabu, or are visiting from abroad.  I want to thank the team for such a wonderful meal, and I am counting the days until I reunite with the Konya and Kunafa.  

For more information check out the website: Turkish Village 

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