Glowing softly from the inside, with maroon wall coverings and exquisite coloured-glass light fittings, Istanbul is clearly a place to relax. The owner and head chef are both themselves Turkish and Istanbul is the only restaurant in Qingdao to provide authentic Ottoman and Mediterranean cuisine.

Going up from the bar-like area downstairs, the cosier, more intimate restaurant area is spacious and comfortable, with soft chairs and large mirrors. The real pleasure in coming to Istanbul, though, is of course their food. Their thick, creamy yoghurt is made in house, and a pot of it accompanied our mixed starter plate, which itself was a beautifully presented mosaic of dips and tasters, with Istanbul’s best-seller, a rich hummus, at the centre.

Istanbul have their own stone-based oven, which they use to make pide and their soft, thick bread, the perfect base to enjoy the well-spiced flavours of Turkey. ‘It is difficult to eat here only once and get a feel for all of our food,’ Istanbul’s management sighs. ‘You have to try kofta and iskander, kebab and pide … they are all very traditional, you have to try them.’

All meat at Istanbul is halal, and the careful attention to meat quality is obvious in its taste. The lamb in particular is tender and rich in flavour, and in the Sultan’s Delight dish, blends perfectly with the surrounding aubergine dip.

Meals should be finished off here with a taste of real Turkish coffee, which is a completely different flavor to the more commonly used Arabica style (used in Starbucks and most restaurants). We at REDSTAR had never tasted anything like it before, and it’s earthy, chocolate-like and almost spicy taste went beautifully with the sweet, creamy dessert that we thought we had no room for, until we tried it.

Istanbul also offer belly-dancing performances and classes every Saturday 7 – 8.30pm, as well as wine-tasting events: follow their WeChat below for date information. University students are granted 20% off at all times, and every Tuesday to Friday lunchtime the entire menu is 20% off at all times, and every Tuesday to Friday lunchtime the entire menu is 20% off. Tuesday is Lahmacun day, with every Lahmacun priced at 25RMB. Istanbul is a place to take your time, and really enjoy a taste of the Ottoman world. As their owner says, ‘This is not really a restaurant. This is us inviting guests into our home.’

Address: 69B Zhangzhou Lu
漳州路69 号乙
Phone: 8086-0063, 186 6190-7890