Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Uskumru Fish Restaurant: Fish Lovers Delight on the Bosphorus!

Dear readers,

Summer has been a little late in coming to Istanbul, but two weekends ago for the first time in a long time, the weather was gorgeous! On June 3rd, a Saturday, the sun was shining brightly and there was a light breeze with temps in the mid 20's (centigrade).

The day before it was my brother-in-law's birthday and we decided to go to lunch at one of our favorite fish restaurants to celebrate... long gone are the days that we are "night owls" and prefer calm, quiet lunches with family or friends where we can hear each other talk and actually have long conversations! 

So, our fish restaurant of choice was Uskumru Balık (quite apropos as it means mackerel and balık means fish) along the Bosphorus shoreline on the Asian side of Istanbul in Anadoluhisarı (Anatolian Fortress). 

The great thing is you don't need a car to go to Uskumru (or some of the other fish restaurants in the vicinity) because "smart" restaurateurs that they are, Uskumru offers a complimentary round-trip boat shuttle picking up diners from Rumelihisarı (Rumeli Fortress) on the European side of the city... 
Uskumru Fish Restaurant Complimentary Boat Shuttle
The boat ride is only about 5 minutes but once on the Bosphorus, you almost wish it was longer! On this particular day, I have never ever seen the Bosphorus so aqua blue that I felt like I was on the Aegean or Mediterranean Sea! Apparently, according to the news, there is some scientific reason for this which I can't quite remember, but lately the Bosphorus has definitely changed "color"!

Uskumru Fish Restaurant opened in 2008 with indoor and outdoor seating for a total of 300 diners...
Uskumru Fish Restaurant/Anadoluhisarı, Istanbul
I "discovered" this wonderful fish restaurant in 2014 when I was invited to a "ladies lunch" by one of my dear friends on another gorgeous sunny day in May and was very impressed with the location, food and service.

Since then - this is my 3rd visit although I would like to go more often, but alas finding the time or budget to keep up with all the fine restaurants in the city is not possible.

We opted to sit indoors as it was too sunny to sit outdoors. The restaurant does not prefer to use umbrellas because the Bosphorus can be windy and it could be hazardous if an umbrella topples over.
Uskumru Fish Restaurant/Anadoluhisarı, Istanbul
As before, we stuck to the "classics" served and started our meal with a very simple, yet incredibly delicious and super fresh (no need to add any additional dressing) finely chopped lettuce salad and tomato salad served in boat shaped plates to share.
Tomato Salad, Chopped Lettuce Salad @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
To accompany our salads, we only ordered 3 cold appetizers so that we didn't make the mistake we normally make and that is to fill up so much on appetizers, that we don't have room for a main course of fish!
Eggplant Salad, Sea Bean with Yogurt , Sea bass w/pesto sauce @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
I'm always impressed that Uskumru's appetizers or meze are always so good - that they are properly seasoned and fresh! In other words, they are consistent. The eggplant salad (patlıcan salatası)just melts in your mouth... the sea bass with pesto sauce (pesto soslu levrek) has a "nice bite" and tingles your taste buds. And... for the first time we tried the sea bean (called ada fasulyesi in turkish and a bean I've tasted for the first time and it's very similar to glasswort) with yogurt, a very refreshing and light appetizer!

After we combined all these delectable delights on our plate, it was time to chow down!
Appetizers, meze @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
I was patient and waited for the heated whole wheat rolls to arrive, but feel free to try the excellent, but fattening corn bread!
Cornbread @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
What we ate doesn't look like much, but take my word for, by the time we scraped all the plates and ate the bread, it is very filling! But, we did leave some room for fish and totally skipped ordering hot appetizers (like grilled calamari, shrimp casserole, etc.) Although, the summer is not really "fish season", you can still find certain types of fresh fish. My brother-in-law opted for the "Fried Red Mullet" (tekir tava) served with a side of oven-baked potatoes & onions and steamed vegetables...
Fried red mulled @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
While my sister and I opted to share a half portion of grilled sea bass (which was quite large)...
Grilled Sea bass @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
What can I say? We were in food heaven! The sun was shining brightly, the Bosphorus was mesmerizing & glistening and several glasses of of ice cold white wine definitely lifted our spirits! 
Uskumru Fish Restaurant/Anadoluhisari & (FSM Bridge)
We capped off our delightful birthday celebration with Turkish coffee and 1 slice of Havuç Baklava (havuç means carrot and so called because it's sliced to look like a carrot).
Havuç baklava & Turkish coffee @ Uskumru Fish Restaurant
Last but not least... most fish restaurant are not cheap! There is no menu to look at so basically, you don't know what the cost of the dishes are (unless you ask) until you get the bill, but if you are a "local", you have a "ballpark" idea on how much it will cost. Almost all have a per person coverage charge (called küver in Turkish) which includes unlimited bread and water (10 TL/pp at Uskumru). Most do not include the tip (called servis bedeli) in the check, but definitely look at the details if you don't want to double tip because some do (Uskumru does not). Since "rakı" (similar to arak or ouzo) is the typical "drink of choice" at fish restaurants, most wine lists are usually inadequate, price for quality high and most fish restaurants only carry one Turkish vineyards wines. 

But, all in all... find the fish restaurant(s) and there are plenty in Istanbul and experience eating fish "Turkish style".

Afiyet olsun! Bon Appétit! 

Stay well,

me, sis Meltem & brother-in-law Ibrahim

Uskumru Fish Restaurant
Körfez Caddesi No. 55 Anadoluhisarı, Istanbul
Tel: (0216) 460 10 00
Open daily until 1:00am

Call the restaurant when you arrive in Rumelihisarı so that they can send their complimentary boat shuttle (pick-up next to Iskele Fish Restaurant)