The Asian side has a very different feel to Europe. Calmer, verging on sleepy in its more affluent parts, this is the place to spend a sunny afternoon. And getting there is half the fun.
In Istanbul’s foundational myth Chalcedon - now Kadıköy - is the ‘city of the blind’, built on the wrong side of the Bosphorus. A group of military-minded sailors see the settlement on one side and the eminently defendable peninsular on the other and a prophesy is fulfilled. A historical novel published a couple of years ago makes the astute point that in an area of freezing winter northerlies, the sheltered south-facing shore is actually a much more sensible choice – Constantinople is a great site for a garrison, not so wise for a city.
Fast forward a few thousand years and Kadıköy is still where those who prefer to stop and look twice often find themselves. The ready-made meze, fish, cured meats and fresh produce in the market are better quality than you’ll find anywhere else for the price, and it runs into a clean and lively meyhane district, including tee-total stalwarts of Ottoman cuisine Çiya. With three premises on the same street (two for kebabs, one for everything else) a valuable magazine and an uncompromising interest in doing things the proper, old-fashioned way, Çiya is an Istanbul institution and should be the central object of any foodie’s first forays to the Marmara shore.
Ferries from Karaköy, Eminönü and Beşiktaş – especially beautiful at sunset or dawn. Dolmuşes run to and from Taksim late at night, when racing over the Bosphorus bridge is great fun.
Masterpieces are timeless