By Erza S.T.
Photos by Ramadhan
When it comes to Turkish food in Jakarta, Sezai Zorlu is the name that we have trusted for over a decade. From his authentic flavours, knowledge of spices and history of Turkish cuisine itself, Mr. Zorlu has never ceased to impress the Jakartan palate. After starting his own restaurant, called Turkuaz, two-and-a-half years ago, FRV Travel finally made the visit to this charming establishment to try its flavours.
Turkuaz is a cute, medium-sized, two-floor Turkish bistro, with beautiful, geometric laser-cut patterned wood carvings on the walls, myriad old Turkish photos in wooden frames, and oh-so-gorgeous Turkish chandeliers surrounded by a blue turquoise wall, which creates the most intimate of settings. Serving the most authentic Turkish cuisine in Indonesia, Turkuaz is more than just a restaurant. Recently, Sezai Zorlu and his beloved wife Yanti, together with Ozgur (Sezai’s brother), expanded Turkuaz by adding a Baklava House and a stunning new gallery.
They took over the unit next to Turkuaz and expanded the restaurant space. Not only that, they also appointed the original designer, Nada Lahlou from Design Desk Studio, to once again work his magic on the new area, as well as renovate the original dining space. The result is fabulous!
The Baklava House is oozing with Turkish elements that are made with subtle sophistication. The glass counter where they showcase their varieties of baklavas is on a par with the finesse of Ladurée in Paris. Zorlu brought a baklava master, Tufan Goztepe, directly from Turkey to make it. For Turkuaz, he is not only recreating the classic pistachio baklava, but has also come up with so many new selections, including the über delicious chocolate baklava with hazelnuts.
Nada Lahlou has also added a new, yet smaller dining room with a stunning background of Turkish tassels and hanging lights made from upside down tea cups, complete with saucers. Juxtaposing this petite dining room is a hall-cum-display-rack showcasing some of the best Turkish artisan works including ceramics, glass and metal tableware.
The glass counter where they showcase their varieties of baklavas is on a par with the finesse of Ladurée in Paris.
At the end of this hall you will find an open space that features a museum collection’s worth of antique carpets from the Middle East; in particular, the orange room with many small frames of old photos and parts of old newspaper articles or pages from old books. Some of the carpet collections here are really remarkable. During our visit we were amazed to see a very rare, antique, Ottoman Quran scroll that was so beautifully handwritten.
Happy to see the exquisite beautification of Turkuaz, we were actually anxious to savor some of that authentic flavour from the menu. We started with a mezze platter that consists of tereyagli cam fistikli humus (pureed chickpeas and tahini with sautéed butter pine nuts), babaganuc (char-grilled aubergines with tahini, garlic and yoghurt), gavurdagisalatasi (cucumber, tomatoes and walnuts with pomegranate sauce and extra virgin olive oil), ispanaklipeynirliborek (wood-oven baked spinach and Turkish white cheese) and lavas (puffy bread). This is a great selection as we get to sample four types of Turkey’s most famous appetizers at once. Kudos to the wood-oven bread, as it is one of the most delicious and freshest breads we have ever tasted in Jakarta.
The intensity of taste and flavour continues as the main course arrived. The trio of ezmesoslubalik (pan-grilled fillets of marinated sole on sautéed vegetables with cheese, patlicanlikuzuincikkebabi (lamb shank with aubergines and pair with slow cooked sautéed vermicelli and rice), and testikebabi (clay kebab, special request) were giving us all that and even more.
The pan-grilled sole delivered a well cooked fish with flavour that took us to the Mediterranean side of Turkey. As for lamb shank, which comes from Sezai Zorlu’s family recipe, which is cooked slowly overnight in a wood oven with dried herbs and spices. The result is a juicy and tender meat with perfectly balanced spices and a hint of thyme. Without a doubt, this is the reason why Mr. Zorlu’s lamb shanks have been popular for the longest time. The third main course served to us was special as it is not on the menu. Another lamb dish, testikebabi has to be cooked for two hours in a wood oven using a clay pot. The combination of just fresh black pepper, with shallots, garlic, onions, tomatoes and lamb made this special dish very tasty and memorable. Call the restaurant in advance if you are interested to try this dish, as it is not on the menu.
It was a heavy “reviewing” session indeed, but we feel that this whole Turkuaz experience wouldn’t have been complete without tasting Chef Tufan’s baklava. With delicious Turkish coffee to balance the baklava’s sweetness, we were transported to a very happy place with each bite. We definitely had waited a tad too long to visit Turkuaz, but this whole experience made up for the lost time.
Jl. Gunawarman No. 32