On the city’s Asian side, you’ll find Çiya Sofrasi, past the splendorous Kadiköy fish-and-produce market. As you pick your dishes from the no-nonsense counter, keep in mind that Çiya’s owner, Musa Dağdeviren, may be Turkey’s first globally recognized foodie brain. Dağdeviren began cooking two decades ago at a kebab joint. He now lectures internationally and has been profiled in The New Yorker. Each dish, painstakingly rediscovered from old folk memory, is delicious. Fill your plate with the fresh local bush-greens, especially the kaya koruğu, which are found in river silt. You won’t find the mumbar—sheep intestine filled with rice and lamb—anywhere else. The stuffed eggplant has an earthy edge, as does the syrupy, deeply comforting olive dessert.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.