VLOGS AND BLOGS
One day in Istanbul Asia Side:
MODA & KADIKOY
The Istanbul Asia side is less known, but easily our favourite spot in Istanbul. The local neighbourhoods of Moda and Kadikoy were our base for 3 weeks and if they aren’t on your list, they need to be. We probably should start by explaining what we mean by the Asian Side of Istanbul — the city is super unique in that it’s transcontinental. Basically, that means the city sits between two continents – Europe and Asia. For most first time travellers, their base is generally on the European side of Istanbul, where most of the popular attractions like the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque), Hagia Sofia Topkapi Palace Museum and the Grand Bazaar can be found. Once you’ve had your fix of the ‘must-do’s’ we highly recommend you jump on a ferry, escape all the tourists and check out the Asian side of Istanbul.
Moda and Kadikoy are our two favourite places on the Istanbul Asia side because they’re completely local, authentic and epic. It’s hard to describe the vibe here, picture quaint cobblestone streets that house a crazy number of cafes, bars, vintage stores and hole in the wall restaurants. The insane number of choices you have (and lack of English menus) can be a little overwhelming so here are some of our favourites:
Breakfast: Munchies Crepes and Pancakes
A traditional Turkish breakfast is a mix of different dips, spreads, cheeses, meats and breads and of course, bottomless tea. We’d seen countless cafes advertising this traditional style but we made it our mission to find one with a twist. We hit the jackpot finding Munchies. Their breakfast platters come with most of the traditional ingredients but the breads are replaced with pancakes. After you find a seat you’ll have 2 very important choices to make, whether you want only sweet spreads or a mix of sweet and savoury, then you get to pick the number of pancakes you want. You won’t find any physical menus (so keep in mind the price will be a surprise at the end too!) instead, the staff here will explain everything and you just pick whatever sounds good.
Lunch: Basta Street Food Bar
There’s no shortage of dürüm in the area but the ones at Basta are by far the best we found. A Dürüm is a Turkish wrap filled with grilled meat and the typical ingredients you’d find in a doner kebab. Full disclosure, this place is pricey compared to the value you can get elsewhere but the fresh ingredients and unique flavour combinations make it worth it. You can also sit outside and watch the world go by or do some undercover people watching while you eat.
Dinner & Drinks With A View: Big Chefs
Big Chefs is perched on the edge of a cliff down by the Moda Pier with the most epic view. It’s the perfect spot to catch the sunset over dinner and drinks. The service can be a little on the slow side but what they lack in speed they make up for in variety and portion size. The overwhelming size of the menu forced us to panic-order a mezze platter which turned out to be amazing. If there’s one thing we’ve noticed it’s that Turkish people know what’s up when it comes to grazing, the way they eat and drink is social and perfect if you’re indecisive like us.
Coffee: Naan Bakehouse
Naan Bakehouse is a cozy little café with a classic brunch menu, from eggs benedict to avo on toast. They also have a huge selection of baked goods and artisan breads which we didn’t get the chance to try. With the winning combo of fresh baking and strong coffee, you’ll probably smell this place before you even see it.
Another quirky coffee spot worth checking out is Walters Coffee Roastery – a Breaking Bad themed café filled with beakers, lab coats and of course coffee.
Okay so we generally try and keep things local and embrace the culture when we’re in a new city but who can turn down fresh churros? Especially when they’re filled with Nutella, white chocolate or hazelnut! We stumbled upon this tiny dessert house one night and became instantly addicted. They make their churros fresh to order, so they’re fresh, warm and crispy.
That’s a wrap on our favourite places to eat and drink in Moda and Kadikoy on the Istanbul Asia side! There are so many other reasons to sail across the Bosphorus, but hopefully this has given you a bit of a taste as to why we think you should.