Kosebasi has won plaudits from around the world, and deservedly so, says Nishad Padiyarath, who samples its Muscat restaurant.
We all know where to go for good, cheap Turkish shawarmas in Muscat but do you know where to get a perfect Turkish grill in the city? Go to City Centre Muscat in Seeb and walk towards Kosebasi, which is right opposite Tim Hortons, and you’ll find a slice of Turkey in Muscat.
Kosebasi is one of the most popular restaurants in Oman. On a Thursday evening (just before making plans for the weekend), I, along with two of my friends, decided to visit the popular eatery.
It has a warm and elegant ambience, and its decor has been inspired by its Eastern Mediterranean origins. The casual atmosphere aims to ensure that all diners feel at home.
As our amiable waiter greets us, he says: “Kosebasi has passionately served time-preserved dishes that are true to Turkey since its opening in 1995.”
He brings us the menu and it has an extensive selection, with pictures to help you if you’re not too familiar with Turkish cuisine. Kosebasi is more expensive than some of the other Turkish restaurants in the city but it certainly offers a huge range of dishes.
According to the menu’s notes, Kosebasi was listed in the “World’s Top Restaurants” in 2010 by Zagat. The restaurant chain has also been designated one of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” by the 14,000 members of Traveller magazine. The prestigious US magazine Time also crowned Kosebasi the “Best Kebab Restaurant” in Istanbul.
The cold appetisers include hummus, and Cacik (diced cucumber, crushed garlic and mint in fresh yoghurt). Its signature dishes include Kisir (soaked bulgur wheat mixed with capsicum, parsley and green onion, served with Turkish spices and pomegranate sauce) and Mercimek Koftesi (traditional vegetarian kebbi with a mixture of lentil and bulgur).
Kosebasi also offers a wide range of salads that includes Hellimli Salata (lettuce served with cherry tomatoes and Halloumi cheese with lemon-mayonnaise dressing) and Gavurdagi Salata (cubed tomatoes with finely-chopped onions and Turkish herbs; served with lemon juice, walnuts and pomegranate sauce).
We go straight into the main courses. I choose Karisik Kebab (mixed grill). While one friend orders Izgara Kofte (minced beef seasoned with Turkish spices, cumin, and grated onion; grilled, laid on homemade Turkish bread and served with French fries, a light tomato sauce and bulgur pilaf). My other friend is content to simply order hummus. We all order fresh juices: a mint lemonade, an orange juice and a carrot juice.
In less than 10 minutes, our food comes to the table. Karsik Kebab is a blend of tender chicken cubes, marinated beef slices and special lamb kebab. The chicken cubes are tender, and encourage me to tuck in with some gusto while the beef slices taste heavenly and the lamb is just about perfect.
“Turkish food at its best has an uncommon zest and vibrancy. Its culinary tradition is built around making ingredients taste the best they can,” says my friend, who is relishing his Izgara Kofte. “It tastes good except that the beef is a bit salty.”
Make sure you stay for dessert. In fact, that’s the main reason we are here! I choose Cilek Jelli Muhallebi ( a traditional milk custard topped with fresh strawberry and jelly). It’s lovely to look at, and even yummier to eat. It lures you in to finish the whole thing. My friend chooses profiteroles, which he finds absolutely scrummy. My other companion chooses Meghli (caraway spice pudding). Kosebasi is expensive but is surely among the most sought-after Turkish restaurants in the country and we shall definitely be going back for seconds… and more.
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