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Explore Istanbul, one Michelin-starred restaurant at a time

Five restaurants in the capital of Turkey win Michelin Stars for the first time and 10 restaurants receive Bib Gourmand “cheap eats” awards

The team of TURK Fatih Tutak. (Photo: @turkfatihtutak, Instagram)
The team of TURK Fatih Tutak. (Photo: @turkfatihtutak, Instagram)

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Michelin awarded stars to five restaurants in Istanbul, the first time the guide has recognized culinary excellence in the Turkish metropolis.

TURK Fatih Tutak, in the Bomonti neighborhood on the European side of the city, was awarded two stars. Four other restaurants in the city were awarded a star each. No restaurants won three, the highest accolade for the guide, whose inspectors have been awarding their much-coveted stars since 1926.

Also read | A South Indian restaurant in New York gets a Michelin Star

Another 10 Istanbul eateries were honored with a Bib Gourmand award, which is given to “interesting value-for-money places.” The winners in Istanbul were overwhelmingly purveyors of local cuisine run by Turkish chefs. 

“Today, the Michelin Guide’s arrival showcases this top-class gastronomic destination for gourmets everywhere,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director for the guides, said in a presentation before the announcement on Tuesday. “Istanbul’s culinary scene simply astounded our team.”

TURK Fatih Tutak, Istanbul’s most ambitious new restaurant, was recognized for its sophisticated reinterpretations of typically Turkish flavors, which are served in an elaborate seasonal tasting menu. Recent offerings highlight the diversity of Turkish cuisine, from Aegean baby squid to milk-fed lamb with okra and buffalo milk yoghurt, to stuffed mussels with an edible shell, a signature dish inspired by a common Turkish street food.

Chef Fatih Tutak, 37, an alumn of Michelin-starred restaurants Noma in Copenhagen and Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo, opened it in December 2019, just months before pandemic lockdowns forced its closure. 

Also read | Singapore now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than ever

Poullennec noted the preponderance of homegrown talent among the winning chefs, and also their youth, saying “that’s promising for the future of the Turkish culinary scene and culinary landscape.” What set Tutak’s dishes apart for Michelin was “the personal twist, the way he has been reinterpreting recipes, products, using his experience abroad to multiply and magnify the Turkish culinary identity.” 

Mikla, a rooftop venue started by Finnish-Turkish celebrity chef Mehmet Gurs that’s been a fixture on the “World’s 50 Best” lists since 2015, was awarded one star. Neolokal, Araka and Nicole were also awarded a star each.

Originally devised by the Michelin tire company at the dawn of the automotive era as a way to encourage road trips, the guide’s highest restaurant ranking means a restaurant is “worth a special journey.”

The guide has been shifting its business model and expanding in recent years, despite the pandemic interruption, to award stars in new regions, often partnering with local tourism agencies. It published its first guide for Dubai in June, also its first in the Middle East, awarding stars to 11 restaurants, including two hotel-based venues that each received two stars. 

Turkey’s tourism ministry was a partner for the Istanbul guide’s launch.

Here’s the full list of winners:
Two Stars
TURK Fatih Tutak

One Star

Bib Gourmand
Karakoy Lokantasi
SADE Bes Denizler Mutfagi
Aman da Bravo

Green Star (for sustainable gastronomy)

Also read | This Indian restaurant got a Michelin star by serving chaats


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