Most Australians experience their first Turkish food at Kebab joints after a night out with their mates or at lunch breaks when they forget to bring their lunch packs from home.
Like the Italian pizza or the Chinese takeaway, the kebab has become quite a fixture in Australian fast food landscape, almost as Australian as a meat pie pizza.
Of course the question comes to the mind: Is this what Turks eat every day Turkey? What could a more authentic sit-down meal at a restaurant in Istanbul or a humble home in Ankara consist of?
I was lucky to have a chance to find answers to some of these questions last week. Brisbane is home to some 3000 Australian Turks, and although I wouldn’t call the city as the best place for a really authentic Turkish meal, there are many decent and consistently run Turkish restaurants around.
Southbank is famous for being the hub for tourists and sightseeing in Brisbane; the artifical beach, the Arbour, the Piazza, Wheel of Brisbane, and its many cafes.
You can’t miss this colourful and majestic Turkish themed shiny restaurant in the centre of the cafe strip. Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant is beautifully decorated with lanterns and rugs and you can’t help feel, you are having one of those nights in one thousand and one nights.
The restaurant features a rich bar filled with various Turkish and European spirits and beers. Most Turkish restaurants are either BYO or do not really have a vast variety of Turkish drinks so the irresistible urge to try these exotic Turkish drinks, you could say, was the decisive factor.
We started with a platter of mixed mezze which is a great example of how rich a cuisine can be: falafel, eggplant and vine leaf dolma.
We then moved onto the Mixed Grill Platter. Now, pretty much all Australians are familiar with chicken shish kebabs from more everyday kebab joints or Sunday BBQs at home, but Ahmet’s kebabs were very well-marinated and fresh off the charcoal grill. The side dishes were very rich as well – lots of minced meat pide, borek, fresh Mediterranean “Yesil” salad. The sizes of Ahmets’ portions are very generous and having filled ourselves with beautiful mezes upfront, we were full as we were trying to finish the mains.
We then decided to try some Turkish drinks. I wanted to try Raki, which looked similar to Greek Ouzo while my friends opted for Turkish beer “Efes”. Raki was very strong at first and I wondered how people could enjoy this. A fellow Turkish customer came to my help. I was told that the Raki is often drank mixed with either water or some sort of juice. I mixed mine with Sourcherry juice – my God ! So strong yet so nice! Imagine Long Island Ice tea where you first taste coke-lemon flavour and then feel hit by the mixture of 4 strong spirits! Raki with Sourcherry juice (which is of course Turkish) made my night! I was also told that Turks never drank their alcohol solo, Raki had to be accompanied by meze!
As we were paying our bill, there were people lining up in hopes of finding tables – this had to be the most popular restaurant on the Southbank.
Location: Shop 10/168 Grey Street South Bank, Brisbane
Reservations: Call the restaurant – it is often busy.
Payment methods: Amex, Cash, Mastercard, Visa
Hours: Open for lunch & dinner every day..
Parking: Southbank has an extensive car park.