Suanne and I was thinking of going to Turkey and Greece for our gastronomic-slash-cultural vacation this year. It will be an easy thing to do for Suanne and I because it is just $500 for airfare and 3 nights free accommodation. That’s a great thing about working in my company because we get all these inter-line arrangements. The only issue is that the flight is on standby basis. It is easier to deal with, with just two people but with four people it is trickier … a lot more trickier. We’ll see how things go too because the boys summer plans are still not firmed yet.
So I had been talking a lot to Sena at the office. She is Turkish and I was so interested in learning more about Turkish culture and food in anticipation of the trip. I told her about this Turkish restaurant near the office that I wanted to visit. She was surprised because she had not heard of it before. I told her to get some people together for a Friday lunch. She did … 20 people! I was thinking of just 4 or 5.
So we all drove over to Anatolia’s Gate. It is too far to walk from where our office is in the Metrotown area. Anatolia’s Gate is located across the street, kitty corner from the Middlegate Shopping Center (Google Map here). There are available street parking on Kingsway or the side road, so that was not an issue despite us driving there in a number of cars.
The name Anatolia invokes a lot of thoughts of Turkish history. The name Anatolia is another name for Asia minor and refers to that historical region in Turkey that used to be home of many many civilizations which includes Greek, Armenian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. I love history and look forward to going to this part of the world to see first hand for myself.
Anatolia’s Gate has an open gas oven. You would not miss it because it is right in front of you as you step into the front door. According to Sena, this is all essential if they want to do Turkish dishes right.
The ovens are used to make the excellent Turkish flat bread pizza (called Lahmacun) and Pide. They also use this to make Lavash.
The interior is quite basic with well arranged tables. This allows them to easily arrange the tables for bigger parties like ours.
While Anatolia’s Gate is spacious, they recommend reservations because they do have big parties coming in every now and then.
The menu is all foreign to all of us. We surrendered ourselves to the advice of Sena. You know how some of us decide what to get? We just have to point to an item on the picture menu and ask her about it … and she will go “Oh … wow” and raise her eyebrows before excitedly explaining it to us. I don’t have to even listen to her description … just judging by how long she drags out her “wow” and how high her eyebrows were raised is enough indication on what to get.
I just love having an expert telling me more about the food. I always find that the more I know of the food and the culture the more I appreciate it. That’s me — food is not just something I enjoy but also the learning.
Actually I was already dead set on getting “The Works” (my term). See above.
I almost did not pull this off because not many people wanted to eat so much. Moreover, at $21.50, it is understandably too expensive to spend on lunch. At the end, we got the minimum four to go for this.
This was gonna be a feast … and we regretted getting this.
So anyway, I decided to get this thing. This is called Ayran which is made of yogurt and water and costs about $2-$3.
It tastes like the Indian Lasi (spelling?) to me and really thought it’s the same thing. Sena said that it is very Turkish. In Turkey apparently. they like to have this made bubbly, more bubbly than the one you see above.
Our $21 per head platter includes the appetizers above. They are cold appetizers (called meze) and are mainly used as a spread on bread.
Our favourite was the red one at the top left corner. It is called ezme and has a more stronger flavour because of the spice chili used.
The dolma (top right) is stuffed grape-leaf. It is very popular around the region from Iran to eastern Europe to south Asia but this originates from Turkey.
The above is some yogurt with herbs. I am not sure what this is called — just yogurt? Anyway, this is meant to go with Iskender kebab
Everyone gets the Lavash. This is interesting. It is bread all puffed up cooked on the open oven. A stab at the Lavash releases steam.
Sena said that the Lavash is not Turkish. It is Arabic but Anatolia made it because they had the oven necessary to make this.
The Lavash and the Meze’s goes very well together. Everyone enjoyed this particularly when the Lavash is still hot. I could eat this entirely as a meal.
This is it … the $21 per head Padishah’s Platter. It came in an delightfully huge platter with food piled high. Of course the four of us snickered at the others that we had all this food … but we also know that … there is no way in hell we could ever finish this between the four of us. The meze and lavash we had as appetizers were not exactly light.
See that sausage like thingy in the middle. That is called the Adana Kebab. This is named Adana from the city where it is famous for and uses a unique kind of chili spice native to that area.
To Sena, Anatolia is very authentic Turkish although she also said that it is not exactly the same as one would get in Turkey. It is very close and certainly the best Turkish meal she had in Metro Vancouver.
Like I said, it is a delightful platter which has something that everyone likes. I especially likes the freshly cut onions, herbs and stuff which is nicely balanced with baked items and kebabs.
The above is the Turkish version of the pizza. It is called Lahmacun.
It came in smaller pieces and is thin. It has a little bit of minced meat on it. The color and the taste came from the spices and tomatoes used. Very tasty and certainly a lot more healthier than the type of pizzas we were used to.
Pide is another version of Turkish pizza. The difference is that it is folded with an opening in the middle before it is baked. The yellow filling is cheese but the common filling is beef. According to Sena this is most famous in the Black Sea Area.
Not forgetting the kebobs … lamb, chicken, beef. This is all good but compared to the rest this looked so common.
I wished they had served this with the skewers on so that it is a distinct item on the platter.
When the owner placed the platter on the table, he pointed to the chili and said “Be careful. Dangerous”.
Oh yeah right. I can handle that. I grew up eating this sort of things.
It is lethal. It brought tears to my eyes instantly. It is the seeds. Take the seeds away, it is not nearly as hot to me but with the seeds, it has kick.
I don’t really recall what this is but do think it is called Guvec — vegetables and mushrooms.
I find Turkish food quite healthy except that they serve a lot of food.
Baklava was served as a dessert. It is very good and very sweet. It is the honey and nuts that defines the taste.
While Baklava is common to many cuisines around the region, it is believed that Turkey is where it originates from.
At the end, it was too much food for the four of us. We even passed our food to the other people and still we were left with the above.
So we asked for containers to take away. When we got back to the office, we left it at the kitchen and before we know it, it was all gone.
I highly recommend you gather a few people to try this feast. It is a unique and fun experience. You can order the minimum four person order and then share it with six people. Even that, it is going to be quite a heavy meal.