A Turkish restaurant owner’s Hong Kong picks for Mediterranean food (plus the best doner kebab in Istanbul)
Ahmet Karabas sticks mainly to food from his home region and doesn’t eat much Asian food because of a food sensitivity. He does like Xinjiang food though – but hasn’t found anywhere good in Hong Kong to eat it yet
Ahmet Karabas, who hails from Turkey, is the owner of Sultan’s Table as well as its kebab takeaway sister shop, Sultan’s Corner, both in Central.
I am a very sensitive eater so there are many things I don’t eat. I would say my diet consists primarily of Mediterranean cuisine. My parents were very good cooks but like most Turkish people, they just eat Turkish foods. Even the friends who come to visit, all they want is Turkish.
I came to China about 10 years ago for my business and made Discovery Bay my base. I really couldn’t find any very authentic Turkish food so that’s one reason I started my own restaurant. But I like to go and try other places too.
I like Sumac (8 Glenealy, Central, tel: 2147 9191) and Olive (32 Elgin Street, SoHo, tel: 2521 1608). Even though we may serve the same dishes, when I taste them at Sumac, I can tell they’re different from the Turkish versions. The spices are different. But I do like their atmosphere and the food.
I also like other restaurants with Mediterranean-style menus. I go to Santorini Greek Restaurant (51 Elgin Street, SoHo, tel: 2810 6106), and I like DiVino (73 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2167 8883) for pasta and Italian. Another place I like is Isola Bar & Grill (Shop 2075, 2/F IFC, I Harbour View Street, Central, tel: 2383 8765).
In Discovery Bay, I like going to brunch with my family at Cali-Mex Bar & Grill (92 Siena Avenue, North Plaza, Discovery Bay, tel: 2652 5525). It’s nice and fun for them. They also enjoy Pizza Express (various locations including Shop G01B, Tower A, Discovery Bay Plaza, 2 Plaza Lane, Discovery Bay, tel: 2465 2426).
Because of my food sensitivity, we don’t eat much Asian food. When I worked in China though, my associates took me to have Xinjiang cuisine and I quite liked it. Food from that part of China is a bit like Turkish. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find any good place in Hong Kong for it.
If you go to Turkey, I would recommend visiting the city of Gaziantep. It is considered the food capital of the country. In Istanbul, my favourite thing is the street food. Go to the district of Besiktas for the doner kebabs. The best place is Karadeniz Doner (Sinanpasa Mahallesi, Mumcu Bakkal Sokak No. 6, 34353, Istanbul, tel: +90 212 261 76 93). The owner has been there for many years only doing kebab. It starts in the morning with a huge rotisserie of meat and it’s empty by the end of the night.