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A.O.Ç. Doğata Satış Mağazası June 8, 2010

Posted by Steven Bartus in Quick Eats, Turkish Cuisine.
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7 comments

As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of kokoreç, it’s a shame that it’s taken me so long to visit Atatürk Orman Çiftliği (A.O.Ç.). Countless Turks have sung its praises throughout my time in Ankara, but I kept putting it off since it isn’t as convenient as most downtown restaurants.

After eating at Profesör last week, I promised to make the trip to the A.O.Ç. in order to crown the city’s champion kokoreççi. Yesterday I was able to stop by with my friends on the way home from a wedding in Altınpark to sample the delectable offerings.

Let me say this first: the place is absolutely phenomenal. It’s a mecca for kokoreç lovers. About half a dozen different shops are crowded together, preparing their fare and filling the air with the delicious smells of cooking intestine. The mood is set by street lights muted by thick clouds of smoke accompanied by the murmurs of the hungry crowds below. Undoubtedly, it’s not a destination for haute cuisine, but I can think of few better places to eat in Ankara.

A Turkish friend who attended the wedding with us directed me towards Doğata Satış Mağazası, declaring that it offered the best kokoreç of the lot. I can’t disagree; it was some truly amazing stuff. From my vantage point, the man preparing the kokoreç did everything correctly: he applied the right amount of spice and chopped the meat to achieve near perfect consistency. With each bite I could taste every flavor that makes kokoreç my favorite Turkish food. It’s certainly not an unreasonable claim to suggest that this is the best in this city.

The culinary awesomeness of Doğata Satış Mağazası is not only limited to kokoreç. The köfte is excellent and worth trying. The farm also makes its own superb ayran. The freshness and quality of the ingredients are apparent in everything they make.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the A.O.Ç’s dondurma is an attraction in and of itself. One of my friends went on record stating that it was the best soft-serve ice cream she had ever tried. I would concur.

Doğata Satış Mağazası and the other venders at the A.O.Ç. are located on Silhatar Cad. (Google Maps). A large loaf of kokoreç costs a very reasonable 8.50TL ($5.30 at 1.60TL/$).

P.S. I must apologize for the sub-par pictures in this post. I didn’t have my dSLR with me at the time and was forced to use a point-and-shoot camera, not an ideal tool for photography in low-light conditions.

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Roka September 15, 2009

Posted by Steven Bartus in Turkish Cuisine.
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2 comments

Roka

A friend of mine describes Roka as the union of two unlikely individuals: One who wanted to eat with his hands and another who possessed a sizable surplus of fresh produce.  Regardless of its exact origins, it’s worth making the trip to Bahçelievler to try Roka’s unique and tasty combination of greens and meats.

Turkish restaurants are known for employing copious quantities of salt and other spices in their meat-laden entrées. While often delicious, the constant onslaught of flavored protein can become tiresome to the frequent diner.  Roka provides a much-needed alternative for those looking to add some zest and crunch to their otherwise traditional meat dishes.

Upon being seated in pint-sized stools at pint-sized tables, the waiters at Roka spread a salad consisting of an array of fresh greens directly onto the table top in front of you. The mixture of romaine and iceberg lettuce, parsley, mint, cilantro, watercress and green onions is then doused with freshly squeezed lemon juice and accompanied by a skewer of grilled tomatoes and several cloves of warm roasted garlic. While flavorful enough on its own, this salad makes for the perfect topping which you artfully apply by hand to the köfte or adana kebab served to you on warm bread.  The refreshing, crisp flavors of the salad nicely complement the robust spicing and texture of the meats. As an accompaniment, be sure to try the Çamlıca ayran; it’s one of the tastiest pre-packaged variations you can find.

While delicious and fun, Roka is not a life-changing meal. However, it does revitalize old Turkish favorites with a novel twist that is sure to please those looking for a change of pace in their Anakra dining options. And at about 12TL ($8 at 1.50TL/$), it’s inexpensive as well.

The restaurant is located on 22. Sk. off the lively Aşkabat Sk. (also known as 7th Street) (Google Maps).

Çukurağa Sofrası September 7, 2009

Posted by Steven Bartus in Turkish Cuisine.
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3 comments

Çukurğa SofrasıIt’s only fitting to begin my coverage of Ankara dining with Çukurağa Sofrası, my absolute favorite place to eat in the city.  Affectionately known as the “Orange Restaurant” to its expat patrons because of its preference for the color in its décor and wait-staff wardrobe, this Emek establishment offers up Turkish food at its finest.  Its menu is basic and unpretentious, serving most of the standard grilled meats and yogurt dishes that can be found anywhere in Ankara.  The difference is that they are simply better at Çukurağa Sofrası.  My personal favorites are the ali nazik, beyti and yoğurtlu kebabs.  Meat lovers should be sure to try the karışık ızgara for a sampling of all the delicious grills that are offered.

While the entrées are enough of a reason to visit Çukurğa Sofrası, the complementary mezzes only sweeten the deal.  For most, the salata, ezme and pide are meals in themselves. For the hungrier crowd, the waiters are always willing to provide a refill before your main course arrives.  And just when you think you can’t eat anymore, you are served dessert, the warm, sweet and incredibly delicious helva topped with Turkish ice cream, known as dondurma.  This treat easily ranks as one of my favorites, both in Turkey and abroad.

The best part about this meal is that all of this will only cost you about 15TL ($10 at 1.50TL/$) with a drink.  It’s a daunting challenge to find a better value anywhere in Ankara.

Çukurağa Sofrası is located on 22 Bosna Hersek Cad. (Google Maps), a short walk from the A.Ş.T.İ bus terminal.  It’s easy to find; just look for the large crowds spilling onto the sidewalk.  Also, be warned: It’s tough to get a table when breaking the fast during Ramadan.