Istanbul street food series: Kokoreç

You won’t believe what the main ingredient of this popular snack is


When zooming in on the highly addictive Istanbul street food offerings it’s best to start with a snack that is polarizing, to say the least. Every local has an opinion about it, and you will find as many brave connoisseurs who love the legendary kokoreç as you’ll encounter people who consider it a culinary no-go. The spicy offal snack can even boast its own pop song, which is more than most dishes could claim.


Kokoreç consist of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around offals such as hearts, lungs, and kidneys. It has a very characteristic taste some would describe as acerbic or bitter, and is usually served chopped up and seasoned with lemon juice, fresh tomatoes, and plenty of oregano and chili flakes.


Served all year round, all over the city, and pretty much all around the clock (if you know where to look for it) this Istanbul street food staple is favored by partygoers of all ages, so don’t be surprised if your hosts present you with a half loaf of bread filled with aromatic intestines after a wild night out. Şampion Kokoreç in Bakırköy is just a short walk away from Cloud 7 and serves decent quality at a reasonable price. It’s definitely worth a try, and who knows… maybe you too will wake up a kokoreç connoisseur one day?

Organic market in Bakırköy

Where to experience local market culture and find the best produce


Every Friday from 10am to 8pm, the car park by the Airport Shopping Center is taken over by certified local eco-farmers and their mouth-watering produce. Only a 5 minutes drive away from Ataköy and Bakırköy city centers, the market organized and supervised by the Buğday Association for Supporting Ecological Living gives farmers and producers the opportunity to sell their vegetables, fruits, salads, dairy products and much more to health-conscious consumers.


The association founded in 2002 organizes several such weekly markets all over Istanbul and selected cities in Anatolia, usually in close collaboration with local stakeholders and municipalities. The Buğday Association is making every effort to control certificates and quality of produce for each of the market sellers, including regular check-ups at the market and also visits to storage facilities and farms.


Visit the market to witness (and flavor) local produce boasting with freshness, from tomatoes to eggplants, apples to bell peppers, and meet the hard-working people behind the produce. Here you’ll be able to come across regional specialties and handmade marmalades and sauces you’re not likely to find anywhere else in the city – perfect souvenirs for foodies!

Why Moda is the place to be this weekend

The already popular neighborhood of Moda will be injected with an extra dose of urban cool, starting this weekend when Red Bull is taking its Art Around project to the hip Asian side district. The art festival that had left its colorful marks on Karaköy last year will now take on Moda as its next open air venue to showcase the interactive works of contemporary Turkish artists.

Curated by Amira Akbıyıkoğlu, the Red Bull Art Around Moda festival aims to open a dialogue between the urban texture of the popular district, its residents and visitors, and the fascinating site-specific art installations. Among the contributing artists are Onur Atay, Özge Topçu, Berk Çakmakçı, Hacer Kıroğlu, Plankton Project, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Esk Reyn, Cem Dinlenmiş, Nihat Karataşlı, İrem Günaydın and Lara Ögel.

Works range from murals to sculptures, sound installations and performances, with each participating artist interpreting and intervening via their specific medium. Akbıyıkoğlu herself will give guided tours through the neighborhood. Get ready to discover a whole new side of Moda!

For dates and more details, go to

Istanbul’s hottest DJs right now

These three local beat authorities will make you dance until dawn

If smooth deep house is what you’re after, Kerem Önger serves you an irresistible mix of fine tunes at the upscale restobar Madeo in Karaköy. Rub shoulders with the city’s well-heeled party crowd underneath mirrored ceilings and crystal chandeliers.


Izmir-born DJ and producer Doruk Güralp is known to rump-shaking locals as a member of the Lust DJ team that bestowed many sweaty trap and hip hop nights onto us already. As a solo DJ, he works his way through house, techno, and electronic, always aiming for that atmospheric beat that keeps you dancing until dawn. Best enjoyed at Istanbul’s latest hotspot Klein in Harbiye.


Mr. Sür, the mastermind behind the now defunct Wake Up Call club in Taksim and the newly opened Hütte in Asmali Mescit, is providing his audience with crisp house and techno tunes at various clubs and bars around town, the nightlife institution Mini Müzikhol in Cihangir being just one of them. With a distinctive nod to Turkish classics, disco and world music woven into his super addictive sets, he never fails to surprise.


7 questions for street style photographer Emircan Soksan

His passion for people with striking outfits and effortless grace turned into a full-time occupation and brought him as far as New York, Milan and Paris already, but today we want to know all about Emircan Soksan’s Istanbul favorites.

Best neighborhood to live in Istanbul?
Kalamış on the Asian side, Emirgan on the European side.

Best bar or club?
For a casual night out with friends: Geyik in Cihangir or Alex’in Yeri in Asmalı Mescit, for special occasion Mikla on top of Marmara Pera Hotel. For dancing the night away, the best clubs are Indigo and Gizli Bahçe.

What’s your favorite place when hungover?
Wherever i can have the best homemade burger! Nowadays my favorites are Dün in Moda and Burger Lab in Karaköy.

Best gallery?
One of the gallery that always inspires me is Arter in Beyoğlu. A recent favorite is newly opened The Pill in Balat.

Favorite local artist or designer:
Candaş Şişman, who does incredible installations, mapping and video projects, and Refik Anadol, who does a lot of multi-media site-specific art.

Best view point?
Public spot: The campus of Bosphorus University from where you can overlook the northern shores of the Bosphorus. And Topaz Restaurant in Beyoğlu offers insanely beautiful views on the Bosphorus Bridge and Üsküdar over on the Asian side.

What do you miss most about Istanbul when you’re traveling?
The variety of delicious food and the city skyline.

Follow Emircan on Instagram @emircansoksan or check out his blog at
All images courtesy of Emircan Soksan.

Movies to watch

Keep your eyes open for these 3 Turkish indie movies


While some may know Turkish film for its infamous adaptations of Hollywood classics like E. T., Star Wars, and Superman, the country’s independent filmmakers are continuously coming forth with movies that engage a worldwide audience and win awards at major festivals. Here are three recent indie blockbusters that should be on your watch list.


Winter sleep (2014)

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s drama won the Palm d’Or in Cannes last year, among countless other awards and mentions. Set in Anatolia, it tells the story of hotel owner and landlord Aydin and the people who depend on his decisions and thus sheds a light on power relations between those who have and those who have not.

Baskin (2015)

Can Evrenol’s horror movie is not for the faint of heart. A group of unsuspecting police officers get drawn into a gory black mass when they enter a seemingly abandoned building during their nightly patrol routine.


Mustang (2015)

The Oscar-nominated tale of five sisters often gets compared to Coppola’s Virgin Suicides, but it goes far beyond applying the movie’s theme to a contemporary rural Turkish setting. Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s first major production won the hearts of film buffs worldwide with its intense characters and extraordinary cast, and the depiction of life in the beautifully rough landscape of the Turkish Black Sea region.

Istanbul like you’ve never seen it before

No matter how well you know the city, you’ll be amazed by these photos.

For an entirely new perspective on Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, head over to Aydın Büyüktaş’ mind-bending photography website or Instagram. The visual effects artist from Ankara moved to Istanbul after dropping out of a Tourism degree university course and ventured into photography, 3D effects and animation.

His Flatland series allow us to experience the density of Istanbul in an almost nauseating way. Dreamlike cityscapes bend and twist around the horizon, completely ignoring the laws of physics. His aesthetics call to mind the famous dream manipulation scenes of Inception, the Christopher Nolan movie that successfully set new visual standards and paved the way for Gravity among others.

Dive in and see Istanbul the way it’s maybe meant to be seen: a kaleidoscopic cluster of buildings that transcend reality.

All images courtesy of Aydın Büyüktaş,

Istanbul street food series: midye dolma

Who needs oysters when you can have this seafood crowdpleaser?


Blue mussels in their shiny black shells are quite beautiful to look at and are a popular seafood staple in many cuisines from North America to the Middle East. Their orange meat can be served steamed, cooked, fried or baked. Containing more protein than oysters, blue mussels are an incredibly rewarding snack, no matter whether you enjoy them on a seaside walk or a night out. In Turkey, these mussels are most often served as midye dolma, stuffed mussels, a dish in which the shells are filled with herbed rice, pine nuts and currants and then boiled in hot water.


The result? Bite-sized goodness with integrated spoons if you figure out how to use the top half of the mussel’s shell to your advantage. Don’t worry though, most street-vendors are happy to demonstrate how to eat these aromatic goodie without spilling a single corn of rice. Indulge in a handful of them in between meals or hold your own private seafood street party, but always be aware that your average midye dolma hawker does not walk around town with a fridge on their back. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and go for the stationary vendors when on the hunt for that authentic Turkish mussel experience.