Fordsburg's Istanbul Is The Closest You'll Get To

Fordsburg's Istanbul Is The Closest You'll Get To
On Central Road, in one of Fordsburg's busiest blocks, sits a Turkish restaurant called Istanbul. I have never been to Turkey but I imagine this restaurant is the closest I can get to the real thing in downtown Joburg.

Istanbul's menu is simple and fits on two pages, plus one page for drinks and desserts. There are kebabs. There are shawarmas (which, according to the Istanbul menu and Wikipedia, is the correct spelling of the word "schwarmas"). There is a small selection of salads and other side items. But, for the most part, Istanbul's menu is about meat. 

If you're a vegetarian, you probably shouldn't bother going to Istanbul; you'll be stuck nibbling chips, side salads and baklava, which actually doesn't sound too bad. But if you're craving well-spiced chunks of meat at affordable prices, Istanbul is your place. The first time I went I had a spicy chicken chops platter, which comes with a large pile of chips, rice, various salads, flatbread, apple tea, and some delicious yoghurt and chilli sauces for R70. The second time I meant to try the shawarma (which is only available on Saturdays and Sundays) but my five-person dinner party was seduced by the "Istanbul Mix Plate", which includes six different kebabs with all the trimmings for R300.

Although I like tasty meat as much as the next person, the atmosphere is actually what I like best about Istanbul. The restaurant is at the back of a U-shaped courtyard off Central Road (across the street from the bustling Fordsburg market), lined with a couple of cell phone shops and Muslim clothing stores. This courtyard allows Istanbul to set up a large block of outdoor tables, pleasantly removed from the busy street. There's also some indoor seating available.

Istanbul is a great spot for a Turkish coffee or tea and some people watching, and hookahs are on offer for those inclined toward puffing bubbly tobacco. 

The restaurant is popular among large families, even later in the evening, so be prepared for some whinging children. But that's all part of the Istanbul vibe. Istanbul's simple meals work perfectly for takeaways, too. Just be sure to arrive hungry.

Where? 52 Central Road, Fordsburg

When? Monday to Sunday: 11:00 - 21:00 

Tel: 011 056 5749

by Default
It turns out that there's more to Fordsburg than just curry. This is probably the closest you'll get to Turkish food without buying a plane ticket.