When we went to the İstanbul district of Süleymaniye to take a tour of its famous mosque, the restoration of which was recently completed, we got hungry and started looking around for a place to rest and eat.
The classic bean and rice sellers around the mosque area are certainly capable of filling one's stomach, but up until now, there hasn't been much variety in terms of food in that area. At least this is what we too thought until we saw the sign advertising a cafe-restaurant called Dostan, right across from the Esnaf Hospital on the street up from the mosque. The cafe is in the same spot as the previous Elif Cafe a former favorite of local university students. But the owners have now changed, as have the name and the menu, and the three-story premises now offers a range of delicious tastes for those passing through. In any case, we headed straight in. The interior has been newly decorated, and the resulting atmosphere is welcoming. At the same time the first two floors are now the restaurant part of the place, while the third floor is a cafe, including the terrace. As for the food here, it wouldn't be wrong to say it's definitely of the sort you won't find in many other places in İstanbul.
With the capacity to seat up to 170 people at one time, the three-story Dostan Cafe and Mantı Evi is really noteworthy for the warm at-home feeling it radiates. One of the reasons for this is no doubt the fact that the mother of owner Kamber Çal, Hava Çal Hanım, makes up her own Kayseri-style foods and serves them to grateful customers here. The tastes from Kayseri that you might experience at Dostan are special because they are the ones that are less commercialized and so you might normally only encounter them in home cooking in that region of Turkey.
Dostan's special dish is the oven-baked mantı made by Hava Hanım. This mantı is served up in aluminum pans and prepared with very delicate dough, which is then very well cooked. The delicious garlicky yoghurt is then poured over this all, turning it into an unforgettable taste. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it is also surprisingly light. Aside from this special oven-baked mantı, you can also find the original Kayseri kesme, or cut mantı, and normal mantı as well. In the summer season, there is also a special mantı served cold without meat, which is sure to be very popular this summer.
Another taste I encountered at Dostan that I wanted to note was the dish known as yağlama, which is served at Dostan as a “Kayseri dürüm.” Boasting lean ground beef, onions, parsley, green peppers and red pepper flakes, it is both delicious and filling. And after you are finished with whatever you decide to try at Dostan I do insist you have yourself some of Hava Hanım's 40-layer, absolutely incredible, homemade baklava. What taste, what lightness. I have to admit, I have not eaten such homemade baklava for many years.
The prices are very reasonable at Dostan, and as I have already explained, the tastes are extraordinary. It is just about the ideal spot to take a breather and a bite after touring the newly renovated sights at the Süleymaniye Mosque. The only thing missing at this cafe-restaurant, which by the way opened just two days ago, is you.
Anyone with a sense of taste would want to try this mantı
The “an” part of Dostan's name comes from old Farsi, and actually in and of itself means “friends.” Fitting, as this is the perfect spot to stop by with friends and family to try some new and old tastes. As already mentioned, prices are reasonable.
There is a beautiful garden with four trees in it behind this restaurant-cafe, so one can only imagine what a perfect spot it will be to sit and sip one's tea in the spring. The oven-baked mantı is really great, though I should note that I thought the mantı served up in the aluminum pan should be a bit crunchier. Hava Hanım from Kayseri might want to try cooking just as she does at home, rather than just with customers in mind.
Breakfast platter: TL 6, serpme: TL 10
Soup of the day: TL 3
Omelets: TL 4-8
Dostan Kayseri dürüm: TL 5
Dostan su böreği: TL 4
Haşhaşlı katmer (flaky pastry with poppy seeds), sigara böreği: TL 4
Varieties of menemen: TL 5-7
Toast and burgers: TL 4-7
Salads (seven kinds): TL 4-7
Sandwiches: TL 4-7
Oven-baked mantı, mantı with sauce: TL 8
Kesme mantı: TL 6
Pasta (six kinds): TL 6-7
Pizzas (eight kinds): TL 6-9
Pides (five kinds): TL 6-8
Grilled köfte, chicken sarma: TL 9
Lamb chops: TL 13
Shepherd's sauteed meat: TL 12
Fresh fruit juices: TL 3
Turkish coffee: TL 3
Tea: TL 1.5
Salep, cappuccino, hot chocolate: TL 4
Homemade baklava, fruit desserts, rice pudding: TL4
Varieties of nargile: TL 10
Directions: Dostan Cafe ve Mantı Evi
Süleymaniye Caddesi (across from the Esnaf Hospital) No: 21 Süleymaniye, İstanbul
Tel: 0212 511 10 74-75