It was a beautiful Saturday, made for meeting friends for a ferry ride and a delicious lunch at the divine Çiya in Kadıköy's fish market district. Çiya specialises in Anatolian cuisine— everything feels so home-cooked and fills you with a feeling of warmth. The bread is thick and soft, the salads full of flavour— I had a stuffed tomato dolma, a grapeleaf dolma, a spoon of bulghur salad, rosemary salad, and a parsley tomato salad with pomegranate seeds. I have no idea what any of these are called in Turkish, but each were all so fantastic— the rosemary salad was incredibly delicate, I've got to learn the name so I can find a recipe.
There are two Çiyas almost across the street from one another— we went to the smaller one that has more of a cafeteria-like setup. You get a plate from the salad bar, pick out what you want and have your plate weighed by the nice lady at the scales. She gives you a slip of paper with the weight, then you check out the hot food across the entrance, select what you want and get a post-it from the nice man behind the counter with your choices written on it. Sit down at your table and dig into your salad. A waiter will come around to collect your slips of paper, then bring you your hot food. It may seem confusing to walk in without knowing the system, but the restaurant staff are so friendly and willing to help you get it right.
I chose a portion of Vişne kebap (pictured on the bottom right), which is an incredible dish of buttery meat cooked in a sour cherry sauce. The little cubes of village bread tossed in are a happy addition; they soak up the tangy sweet sauce like a sponge. I also selected some green beans cooked in olive oil that were just perfect— firm, but not crunchy. The dollop of yoghurt on top was refreshing, and became a fantastic bread-dipping sauce when mixed with the oil of the beans. That nuggety-looking thing on the top left plate, is called içli köfte— a bulghur shell stuffed with spiced ground meat— a yummy little treat.
I cannot recommend visiting Kadıköy enough— lots of tourists are unaware of Kadıköy entirely, and plenty of residents overlook it. It's a charming part of town, best accessed by one of the many ferries leaving from Kabataş or Eminönü throughout the day, for only a lira and a half.