Behind the Chora Church is the Asitane Restaurant. It means Head Gate in Farsi. It’s the perfect place to have lunch after a visit to the Byzantine church. The Asitane Restaurant's mission is to rediscover and recreate the lost recipes of during Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman reign lasted for 700 years but very few recipes have survived. The empire had a strong tradition that demanded cooks to keep their recipes and cooking techniques a secret.
The large and airy Asitane Restaurant serves imperial Ottoman cuisine, incorporating Central Asian, Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Balkan flavours, resulting from the intensive research undertaken at three palace kitchens (Dolmabahce, Topkapi and Edirne) to test and recreate long-forgotten imperial dishes, whose recipes were traditionally kept secret.
Some of the rediscovered dishes on the menu, such as veal in apple sauce, were served at the circumcision feast held for two of Suleyman’s son in 1539. The location might be off the beaten track, but Asitane is the one and only restaurant in the city where intrepid diners can experience such unlikely-sounding treats as almond soup. This is a restaurant for the serious culinary adventurer.” – Review from Style City Istanbul
The food hit a palette I never knew I had. The dishes were purely flavored with natural ingredients. My stuffed calamari appetizer was a blend of rice and pine nuts flavored with cinnamon and fresh mint. My main course, the Mutanjene, consisted of diced lamb with dried apricots, raisins, honey and almonds. All was well until I ordered the Helatiye. It was a pudding dessert with almonds, pistachio, fruits and pomegranate seeds in rose water syrup. Sans the rose water syrup, I might have been a fan.