KARACHI: A Turkish man’s gastronomical obsession, a bit of dreaming and a great deal of destiny is what brought Turkish restaurant Solen Istanbul to Pakistan.
Restaurateur Mehmet Celal Ulutatar came to Karachi to set up a business venture, and realised during his stay how much potential the port city has. “I see a lot of potential in Karachi for Solen Istanbul. Destiny brought me here,” said Ulutatar at the opening of his restaurant at Dolmen City Mall in Clifton on Friday.
Solen Istanbul, which is a chain of restaurants, has five outlets in Turkey’s capital Istanbul. At the event, the excited Turkish Consul General Murat M Onart said that he had been hoping that a Turkish restaurant would open in the city. “It is sheer luck. Whatever I dream of becomes true. It was just a dream which has finally become a reality.”
Guests present at the event were treated to Turkish delicacies, including Lahmacun — a round, thin piece of dough flattened and topped with minced meat and chopped vegetables. The herbs included onions, tomatoes and parsley and the bread was baked to perfection. Turkish pizza, made by stuffing pita bread with spicy minced meat, red tomatoes and bell pepper was also served to guests who kept asking for more.
Chefs, Abdullah, Abdul Hakim and Omar Farooq were specially flown into Karachi to train the staff. The local crew was taught to cook Turkish cuisine including Kofta Izgara (grilled meatballs) and Sutlac (rice pudding).
Onart, who is very hopeful of the restaurant’s success said, “Pakistanis would love the splendours of Turkish cuisine — we are as obsessed with food as them!” Endorsing his statement, Ulutatar added, “I hope that people find the food extraordinary for their taste buds.” He also recommended that people try Iskender, a Turkish shawarma.
Among the locals present at the event to host the Turkish expats was Talha Nawabi, who said, “It is surely going to be a treat for those who enjoy Turkish cuisine.” Nawabi added that people are losing interest in fast food and that Solen Istanbul will become a hit because most of the meat is grilled.
For Pakistanis accustomed to spicy and chatpata food, Turkish cuisine may seem a little bland. Authentic Turkish food concentrates on retaining the flavour of the meat instead of adding spices, so Solen Istanbul’s fate really depends on whether or not desi foodies can live without their mirchi.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2013.
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