Restaurant Review: Babaji
One of the best, yet most undervalued, experiences you can have in the magical Turkish city of Istanbul is tucking into a börek standing along the pier of Eminönü in Kadköy. Not many travel diaries talk about it but that is where you get some of the city’s best-known, freshly-baked böreks. And the only way to feel the bliss is having a bite of it, while watching the beautiful blue waters of a windswept Bosporus flow by. Now, the Golden Horn may be out of bounds for many in Dubai right now, due to the ongoing travel restrictions, but a good börek, true to its style, isn’t. And that’s thanks to Babaji, the authentic Turkish eatery, dishing out true Ottoman fare from the heart of City Walk.
On a recent visit to the Turkish fine dine, börek is exactly what I started my dining experience with, only to relive the standout Turkish delight I had over a decade ago. But Babaji isn’t only about the golden thin flaky dough, as I figured out, while trying their other dishes.
Börek aside, the best thing to settle down with, is their classic lentil soup and a salad. Ask me and I would recommend their refreshingly light tomato and walnut salad along with some fresh baked Simit, the legendary sesame bread, Turkey’s national food and also one of Babaji’s classic pides. The combo sets you up nicely for some of Babaji’s signature items, including the topkapi chicken, a stuffed item of pilaf and spiced currants with a delectable looking dome-top. But if chicken isn’t your thing, then babaji iskender, their star meat doner served on smoked, roasted eggplant with tomato and butter, and yoghurt on the side, is a must try.
Top it all off with a traditional Ayran drink, Turkey’s all-time favourite summer beverage, and a choice of desserts, from a lip-smacking selection that includes kayseri cevizlisi, a crispy bread filled with buttered crushed walnut, tahina and honey, to an irmik helvasi, made with fried semolina and served with Turkish ice cream and pine nuts, to the famous trilece butter cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.