A La Turca

For Turkish delight!

by Miss Terry Diner

A La Turca proudly boasts that it is the first and only Turkish restaurant in Thailand, which explains why most of us have never been inside a Turkish restaurant! With this venture having newly opened in The Market Pattaya on Second Road (just past Soi 6), the Dining Out team, in the spirit of true investigative journalism, went along to see what it was offering. Was it Lebanese, Greek, Armenian, Arab or Russian food? (To save you reading through to the end - it is none of these!)

The restaurant is in The Market Pattaya complex and can be difficult to find the first time. Park anywhere you can and walk through towards the rear of the Soi Yodsak 6 area, and look up for the illuminated signboard for the restaurant. (Do not get too frustrated, it is bad for your appetite!)

Owner Can (pronounced ‘Jan’) and his wife will proudly tell you of the origins of their food, right from the Ottoman Empire through to a fusion producing modern Western Turkish cuisine. Considering that Turkey is surrounded by the Black Sea and the Aegean and Mediterranean and several countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran and Syria, you would expect more influences, but you must remember that the Turkish people are fiercely independent - a concept given to them by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - and yes there is a framed photograph of their great leader on the wall.

Other items on the walls relate to ancient Turkey and there are even some carpet squares, though Can did admit that none of them could fly. In one corner there is an Ottoman style couch, where diners may retire to drink Turkish coffee after the meal.

The dining areas with glass-topped tables include a mezzanine floor and the restaurant can accommodate up to 120 people. They will also cater with open buffets for large groups and on special order you can even have a belly dancer!

The new menu is a photographic one, with some explanations of the dishes, but Can or his wife, or the manageress are happy to explain all items. The prices are not expensive, with most dishes around B. 100, and only two dishes over B. 200. Names are interesting, such as ‘Woman’s Thigh Kofte’ which turns out to be a deep-fried ground beef patty with special sauce. Around 40 percent of the dishes are vegetarian, such as the Mersimek Corbasi (red lentil soup) or the Sigara Boregi which is pan-fried crispy filloo dough filled with Feta cheese, parsley and dill.

I was treated to a huge medley to give me a better idea of the food, which I ate with some Raki (the Turkish alcoholic aniseed drink). The salads are very clean on the palate, with the potato salad showing Mediterranean influences, but the grilled Aubergine (eggplant) salad was something new to me. Slightly spicy with Anatolian herbs leaving a pervading aromatic flavour which was superb.

I did try the ‘Woman’s Thigh’ (and not the belly dancer’s) which was again a different, but very pleasant taste, and a Turkish pizza which has an Italian influence with the thin and crispy base. Even the kebabs are different from the usual, with the imported Turkish herbs imparting their own flavours.

At the conclusion of my Turkish feast I had a cup of the strong Turkish coffee, washed down with a peppermint liqueur, as is the Turkish custom.

A La Turca does offer a different culinary experience for the Eastern Seaboard diners. The food was good and I enjoyed the aromatic flavours that many of the dishes had. The Raki is like Ouzo or Ricard (try it neat as well as with water) and goes well with the food. While it is very suitable for a couple dining out, I would suggest that this is a great place for a party, complete with the belly dancer. Do try it! (The food that it, not the belly dancer!)

A La Turca, H 6-7, The Market Pattaya, Second Road (on the left side just after Soi Yodsak 6) telephone 038 411 483. Open seven days 1 p.m. through till 11 p.m.

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