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“Don't miss this.”
Review of Ciya Sofrasi

Ciya Sofrasi
Ranked #80 of 13,475 Restaurants in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$5 - US$20
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Kids, Child-friendly, Groups, Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, After-hours, Buffet, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Don't miss this.”
Reviewed 23 June 2010

After almost 3 weeks in Turkey we were getting a bit tired of mezzes, but we went here the last day because we had read a review in the New York Times that sounded good.
The restaurant is on the Asian side, not far from the ferry terminal on a quaint alley/street, so it's a nice stroll getting to it. An assist from Mapquest would be a good idea, though, before setting out. Were we ever glad we went! It was simply the very best Turkish meal we had on the entire trip - and we had some very tasty meals. Everything was fresh as could be, the flavors were superb, and it seemed that each dish was even better than the one before. We sampled just about everything, and then topped it off with some sort of sweet pumpkin dessert that we would never have thought of on our own (it was suggested by the chef) that was as unusual as it was delicious. I can't recommend this place enough.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank 2travelingf00ls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Hebrew first
  • Hungarian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
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  • Polish first
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  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
24 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Best food in Istanbul”
Reviewed 18 June 2010

Had written this one down before our visit, then came by by chance on last day. Authentic and fresh and one of the best meals we had had in Turkey. If had found earlier would have got the ferry each day! Pay by weight for the Mezze plate. Kind of place could spend a evening over food. Lots of tastes and textures. The Eggplant dishes were devine. I had been searching for this kind of food throughout Turkey and at last found it!

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Thank joy027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Wonderful meal in Istanbul”
Reviewed 31 May 2010

We loved this restaurant. An American living in Turkey recommended it to us as a local favorite. The NY Times also mentions this restaurant in their 36 hrs of Istanbul - so we had to try it. It is on the Asian side of Istanbul. We took a ferry and did a little hunting to find people who could point it out to us. Well worth it. We booked a reservation for lunch (needed) and arrived at noon. Most of the locals eat at 12:30, so we arrived in time to talk to the manager and get a personal tour of the hot bar (so helpful to have everything explained). We had him prepare a number of small plates so we could try a variety of dishes. Everything was delicious. We had Suriye (cherries with meat) and another dish with plums and meat. Fantastic. We had about five vegetarian dishes to try too. The restaurant is large (we happened to eat outside) but you will need a reservation which your hotel can take care of for you. The place filled up by 1pm.

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    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank winedunce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stanford, California
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“One of the best meals of our entire trip! Correction, of our life!”
Reviewed 30 May 2010

Just returned from Istanbul and am happy to report that Ciya Sofrasi was one of the most memorable meals of our trip (perhaps, one of the best meals of my life!).

Unlike others, we had absolutely no trouble finding the restaurant. Of course, it didn't hurt that we had remembered to print a Google map before leaving home. On the ferry ride over to Kadikoy, we were chatting with some Istanbul residents on their way home from work. They were genuinely surprised and thrilled that we knew about Ciya and had decided to eat there. They looked at our map and confirmed the location. With that, we knew we couldn't go wrong.

Regarding our Ciya experience . . . we arrived prior to the evening rush armed with our copy of Nancy Chuang's excellent Aperture Travelogue in which she raved about Ciya, as well as her waiter Haydar, aka the Turkish John Travolta. When we showed the photograph of Haydar to one of the waiters, they ran and got him so we could be introduced. We gave him the article and explained that he was something of an internet celebrity! We explained that we had traveled from California to eat at Ciya and from that point on we were treated like family. Haydar and another gentleman, who spoke perfect English, proceeded to explain every single dish to us, how the dishes rotated on a daily basis, as well as how customers choose cold mezes (sold by weight) and hot dishes (sold by portion) from the display. Most impressively, they broke all the rules for us and brought us tastings of practically every single dish. We certainly did not expect this sort of service or hospitality when we arrived, but were obviously grateful for it. To be fair, we arrived prior to the dinner rush, which certainly helped, but we also arrived prepared, with recommended dishes scribbled in our notebook.

Haydar seemed genuinely touched that we bothered to bring him a copy of an article featuring his photograph and the other gentleman (oh how I wish I could remember his name! forgive me!) seemed genuinely happy that we were excited and willing to try new taste combinations. When our meal was over, we had tasted three types of beverages (hot thyme tea, cold sumac juice and a cold herb juice - all delicious!) and over twenty cold and hot dishes! Each and every one was explained to us in great detail and every single one was delicious! Every time we thought we had a favorite, a new dish would arrive that we impress us equally, if not more! Favorites included the "weed" and whole grain salads and soups, the whole artichoke stuffed with rice and dill, the multiple varieties of dolmas, the wedding dish of chicken, almonds and rice served inside a pastry shell, and the incredibly refreshing sumac and herb juices.

It should be pointed out that the menu is very vegetarian friendly. It's easy to avoid the meat based dishes if you so choose, and the sheer variety of whole grain and vegetable based dishes was truly incredible.

And yes, there was an English daily menu. When I asked if I could possibly keep one, they explained, with regret, that there were only a few copies and it was still early in the evening. I completely understood and quickly took a photograph instead!

All in all, Ciya Sofrasi puts out an incredible variety of excellent food, lovingly prepared and served by knowledgeable and genuinely hospitable staff. Well worth the ferry ride to the Asian side indeed! In fact, we enjoyed our meal so much, we returned on our last night in Istanbul. We went through the line ourselves, obviously choosing a far smaller number of dishes, but enjoying the food and experience equally well. Haydar recognized us and even gave us a small gift before we left. Truly one of the most memorable meals we've ever experienced!

Thank RedHairedGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Totally fab”
Reviewed 11 May 2010

Totally fab, wish we'd found this restaurant sooner. Tasty and delicate starters followed by a variety of inventive and delicious main courses. Well worth crossing the water for! And unbelievably cheap!

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Thank TravelsWithMyHusband
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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