Time for ‘tantuni’
Finally, there is a place where you can get some delicious “tantuni” (a kind of dürüm cooked with small pieces of beef and onions, tomatoes, green peppers, parsley, etc. on a special griddle pan) without having to head to one of those “hole in the wall” type of places. A very chic spot for tantuni lovers is now Baazen Tantuni, which has opened its second outlet after its first location in Yayla on Bakırköy’s İncirli Caddesi.
Tantuni is of course a Mersin specialty, though I suppose you could say that Baazen Tantuni serves it up in an even more hygienic and delicious way than you might easily find in Mersin. Tantuni is thought to have originally been a Turkmen dish. If you decide to try it at Baazen, you will find a chic setting and a garden that can seat up to 80. It is also notable that this dish, while it used to often be made with meat mixed with cheaper cuts of lung and fat, is now made here with real beefsteak pieces. It is no longer the poor man’s tantuni of the past! On the hot griddle pan, the cook places oil, red pepper, sumac, pepper, salt, onions and tomatoes, mixing them all together with the meat, which has been pre-boiled, for a delicious taste. A bit of hot water is added to this whole mixture as it cooks. The reason the water is added is both to control the heat of the dish, and to make the steam that is used to soften the bread into which the mixture is placed. Two things you must have with you on the table when eating tantuni are lemon and hot pickled peppers.
Baazen Tantuni was opened by partners Ahmet Tuzlu and Maksud Sarı, who are clearly devoted to running a sparkling clean as well as chic spot. One of the fine points of the deliciousness of the tantuni made here is that not even one gram of tendon can be found in the meat. The partners obtain their meat from the Afyon region of Turkey. They note “We have made an investment in tantuni. This is really a healthy food, and we wanted to serve it up somewhere chic. By the end of this year, our goal is to open up at least three new outlets throughout İstanbul. Our ultimate goal is to be running 10 tantuni restaurants in the city.”
I generally prefer to eat my tantuni on bread. When it’s wrapped in yufka dough, I find the juice from the dish makes the yufka more doughy than I want, and that I don’t get the taste I like. The specially made loaves of bread here are the perfect vehicle for the tantuni. And of course, when you eat it with bread like this, it is so filling! The use of spices, water, and oil here are really well balanced. And the fact that Baazen brings in special cotton oil for cooking from Adana means that the taste of the tantuni is ever better, and it is light as well. It all works to make it a restaurant well worth checking out: Baazen Tantuni. I can really recommend it!
One choice, but it’s so delicious!
One thing that I really like about this restaurant is that it focuses on one particular taste, and does so successfully. You can order up your tantuni here either in bread, or wrapped in yufka. As for dessert, they have only “künefe” (served hot and made from cheese and pastry), but are planning on serving a special “kadayıf” (a wheat dessert with pistachio or walnut) as well. When it comes to drinks, you can get some ayran or some “şalgam suyu” (a fermented red carrot juice); I found the latter very bitter, but good.
Tantuni is always served up with lemon and pickled hot peppers. When you squeeze the lemon onto the tantuni, the taste is transformed into something different altogether! Depending on the season, you might also get your tantuni served with radishes, arugula, parsley or tomatoes. The only thing missing at Baazen Tantuni is parking spaces. It is not a problem in the evenings, but can make parking problematic during the daytime hours. But the taste is worth a bit of a walk, so never mind! The décor here is great. And the jars of pickled vegetables (turşu) lend a wonderful color to the place.
İncirli Cad. No: 83
Tel: 0 (212) 660 47 47-660 47 77
(wrapped in yufka): TL 6
Bread tantuni: TL 7
Künefe: TL 6
Ayran: TL 2
Şalgam: TL 2
Water: TL 0.50
Soda: TL 1
Ottoman sherbet: TL 2.50