Iskal Burger: Istanbul's Staple Food Will Give Other Burger Joints Around the World a Run for Their Money

Dec 15, 2015 08:54 PM EST | By Denise Valerie Uychiat

Tourists traveling to Istanbul are raving about this awesome burger which they said can only be found in Turkey. They said night outs in Istanbul would be incomplete without ending it with islak burger. This is Turkey's response to New York's pizza, and London's fried chicken wings. Islak burger is a luscious patty of ground beef cooked in milk, garlic and mint, covered in tomato sauce, and smacked in the middle of a soft golden bun.

For those who wants to learn how to make it, it's as easy as, one, two, three..or so they say. Once the islak burgers are ready, they are placed on a tray and then the tray is then the tray is placed in a glass box, which looks like a popcorn machine that "came from an Iowa county fair," on lookers described. Underneath the popcorn machine-ish box, a boiling pot of water discharges a steam flow keeping the burgers warm and soaked in garlic fumes.

Islak means wet in Turkish. The islak burger joints can be found at the top of Istiklal, Istabul's main street at the corner of Taksim, the square where the Gezi protest started in 2013. It is well visited by tourists because it is considered to be a "must-go" place when you visit the city.

Among all the joints that sell the burger, the most loved and well known joint around town is Kizilkaya. Inside the place, it may feel like you're getting hot-boxed by garlic. You usually pay an equivalent of a dollar for an islak burger.

People who have tasted the burger said that as soon as you take a bite at the soft, warm bread, the texture mixes with the hot tomato sauce, whole the heavy garlic taste of the meat that leaves you wanting for more.

There is something amazing about the simplicity of the islak burger that puts regular burgers to shame. First of all, there's the bun. On a classic burger, it's too hard compared to the delicious mush that's inside it. Second, there are times when there is really too much stuff inside the bun.: tomatoes, ketchup, onions, and lettuce, to say the least. Simple is good, and the islak burger does this just right. I'm not suggesting that hamburgers should be replaced, but the Turkish version is a pretty valid alternative.

Today, it's the staple food that takes care of the drunk crowd that stumbles out of the hundreds of bars, restaurants, and clubs around Istikal.  

So if you ever find yourselves wandering around Turkey, don't forget to go to Istikal and find the famous Kisilkaya's Islak Burger.

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