Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Aslan Café and Restaurant, a Turkish Wonder in TC

Mural of the Hagia Sophia

Wow! Today I found this place that rouse me up from the mopes. This authentic Turkish restaurant is on the corner of Paterno and Gomez Sts. and a place that all of us should check out, for the flavors, the ambiance and to experience something what we would consider “out-wordly.” I have not been to Turkey but I have been to a few Mediterranean restaurants in my day and when I walked in here, I was genuinely transported. It gave me joy that this is here in our town. 

Mousa, one of the owners, is quite the amiable bloke.

The menu is in Turkish (with English translations), it has descriptions and includes kebabs, Turkish meatballs, a staple of pita bread (Turkish style which is thinner than the Greek's), egg dishes, salads, beef lamb, spiced up with their own unmistakable flavors and all are Halal. So far there were at least 30 items on the menu and I know now where I will be having dinner for the next 30 nights (more or less). How sweet it was for Mousa, the gracious, polite owner to give me complimentary Stuffed Grape Leaves with couscous when I asked if they had some. Their homemade hot sauce is not like any, the meatballs' breading is also very distinct. I am very biased to this café now.

Stuffed Grape Leaves Mediterranean to the core.
The murals at Aslan depict iconic spots in Turkey such as the Hagia Sophia, the Brosphorus Bridge, ruins in Ephesus and in here I found something serendipitous: Shishas! It might be nice to look into this, inhale the water pipes and enjoy their coffee too! The coffee is traditional Turk and unambiguous. 

 Shishas (water pipes)

Rumi's proverb (shown above, Rumi's name in Turkish which appears as "Hz Mevlâna; Mousa informs me that this saying translates as, "This world is our test and one chooses to make it bad or good.") Mousa is good to converse with about Byzantium, Rumi, Gibran and so on. 

Mousa's mother is the mastermind behind the recipes, this made me so glad because this way we will be treated to authentic flavors, untarnished and uncompromising; soon, they will feature Baklavas! Wooo! I can't contain it. 

May I recommend this to all of you? Yes, it's unlike our Filipino dishes, it has a distinguished robust flavor but I've always believed that to experience new dishes is to be teleported to the very place where it came from and besides, cuisine, should be an ongoing education. 

Turkish meatballs and Pita bread

NB: The owners have been in our midst immediately after Typhoon Haiyan and have been involved in relief and rebuilding with the Turkish government. They were instrumental in facilitating Turkish President Abdullah Gül's visit which brought awareness to Tacloban. Already, they are making a story that will eventually dovetail right into the fabric of our island town. 

An abstract of a dervish dancer fashioned in Jalaluddin Rumi's time. I was a bit of a Rumi devotee in my early 20's and this brings me back. 

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