Because of its multicultural structure, Istanbul hosts different types of life styles, celebrations, ceremonies, buildings and of course tastes. Culinary masters from many different cultures have been serving up best samples of Anatolian Cuisine to the people of Istanbul. Istanbul Greek masters have very important place among these culinary masters. Within this framework, Pandeli Restaurant located at the upper floor of Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar in Eminönü is one of the restaurants that come to mind first.
Pandeli Çobanoğlu, the founder of the Pandeli Restaurant, is originally from the city of Niğde. Mr. Pandeli, who immigrated to Istanbul when he was child, started cooking in 1901 by selling meatballs and piyaz (haricot bean salad). Years by years he became one of the most favorite chefs in Istanbul by cooking different dishes. After Pandeli passed away in 1967, Hristo Çobanoğlu, his son, and Cemal Biberci, who had been working with Mr. Pandeli since he was 15, started to operate the business together. This collaboration still continues.
Pandeli Restaurant is a very special restaurant both with its delicious foods and with its location and decoration. When you enter the restaurant the first thing that welcomes you is the stairs covered with blue tiles. Like the stairs, all the walls of the restaurant are also covered with blue tiles. Because of its location the restaurant sees both Eminönü Square and Egyptian Bazaar.
You can try different tastes in Pandeli Restaurant; such as Sea Bass in Paper, Lamb’s Shank with Vegetables, Sultan’s Delight (Hünkar Beğendi). I tried Sea Bass in Paper. The Sea Bass, bones of which are picked up, is cooked with diced tomatoes and butter in a special folded paper. And the lemon juice which is added to its pot liquor, gives more taste to this dish. To be honest, I had never eaten a Sea Bass as delicious as it was in Pandeli. If you are in Turkey between February and May, I recommend you to try this taste.
I finished my delighted meal with its popular “Flourless Cookie” (Unsuz Kurabiye). These cookies are prepared by grinding almond and they are very delicious. So, you will not be sorry if you finish your meal with these cookies and a glass of tea.
You should go to the Pandeli Restaurant which was visited by very famous people, such as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Queen Elizabeth II, Juan Carlos I of Spain, Robert De Niro, Audrey Hepburn and Tony Curtis.
PS: Meri Çevik Simyonidis writes the relationship between Pandeli Çobanoğlu and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk* in her book “İstanbul’um Tadım-Tuzum, Hayatım” which is about the contributions of Istanbul Greeks to the eating-drinking-living cultures of Istanbul, by the words of Hristo Çobanoğlu, son of Pandeli Çobanoğlu: “The relationship between my father and Ataturk dates back to old times. When Ataturk was a young officer, he had very less salary, and my father was such a man who likes to drink. Ataturk used to come to the restaurant on some evenings for eating and drinking. Sometimes he would put something on the cuff and would pay it at the ends of the months. That was not a problem for my father. In some months Ataturk had money problems. In those times my father did not force him to pay and would say “You can pay later”. One day, after he became the President, Ataturk came to the restaurant for dinner. At the end of the dinner he asked my Father: “Pandeli, ask them to bring my bill.” But of course my father would not like to have money from the President and said “Pasha, you can pay it at the end of month.”. Ataturk was very happy with his answer and he immediately answered “I love two Mr. Pandelis in Istanbul.” The other Mr. Pandeli was an Albania Pandeli gardener in Kaplıcalar. This gardener was a skillful person who had changed a dirty marsh to a great garden. He meant him.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk* (1881-1938): He was the founder of the Republic of Turkey and the first President of Turkey. He led the Turkish National Movement in the Turkish War of Independence.
Adress: Mısır Çarşısı No:1 Eminönü-İstanbul
Telephone: +90 212 527 39 09
Opening times: Every day (11:30 – 19:00)
This post is also available in: Turkish