Shaking up street food in Istanbul

Dürüm is the specialty at Basta Street Food Bar, but you won’t find a smoky grill inside this tiny Kadıköy storefront. With its bright turquoise counter, tile-patterned floor, and steel-topped, light-wood stools, Basta looks more like a hip café than a traditional kebab joint.

“One customer came in, sat at the counter, took one look at what we were doing in the kitchen and walked right out,” laughs Kaan Sakarya. The former chef of the highly rated Nicole restaurant in Istanbul, Sakarya opened Basta in April along with colleague Derin Arıbaş. Their aim: applying their fine-dining training to gourmet fast food – specifically dürüm, grilled meat wrapped up inside lavaş flatbread....

With Turkey's economic woes causing many establishments to shut their doors, it's always good news to hear about new places opening up, especially when their offerings are as satisfying as Basta's innovative dürum. I interviewed the restaurant's enthusiastic young chefs and left with a full stomach and a bit more optimism about Istanbul's future.

Read my the rest of my story, "Basta Street Food Bar: Gourmet to the People," on Culinary Backstreets.