A Tour of London’s Best Shopping Areas for Turkish Ingredients

During a trip to London this year, we met Önder Sahan, one of London’s most influential Turkish restauranteurs.  During our discussion, this successful businessman and chef emphasized the importance of good ingredients for his success with his nine TAS restaurants in London, as well as for cooking authentic Turkish dishes at home.  Right after our discussion, Önder, a resident of London for over 20 years, took us on a tour of this city’s best shopping areas for Turkish ingredients and products. We hopped from one market to the other, over an unusually sunny afternoon in London.  Of course, we finished the day with some delicious nibbling to refuel.

Interesting Statistics about the Turkish Population in London

According to the last London census report of 2001, there were over 50,000 Turkish and Turkish Cypriot nationals living in Greater London.  The most common types of employment or business for Turkish immigrants are Retail and Food Business such as markets, restaurants or cafes.  The most popular boroughs of London for the Turkish immigrants were Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Waltham Forest and Enfield. (1)

Did you also know…..that the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is of Turkish descent? His grandfather was Turkish.

(1) Source:  Turkish, Kurdish and  Turkish Cypriot Communities in London, by the Greater London Authority, February 2009.

What about Paris?
Looking for Turkish ingredients in Paris? The best neighborhoods and stores to shop for Turkish products are now on SHOP.../../../Shop.html../10/2_Ketchup,_Mayonnaise,_Onion__Turkish_Paris.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0

Nibbling Along the Way

During our tour, among the eateries Chef Onder noted as worthy of your visit were Umut 2000 (6 Crossway, Stoke Newington) for best Turkish style ribs, and London’s oldest kebab house, The Best Turkish Kebab House (125 Stoke Newington Rd.) in Hackney, and Antepliler (33A Newington Green, Green Lanes) for their lahmacun (Turkish style spicy, minced beef pizza) and baklava in Haringey.

During our interview Onder told us that, for his restaurants he makes everything on the premises or brings them directly from Turkey to create a truly authentic taste. He certainly has enough volume to justify the bulk shipments.  But there is one thing he doesn’t make or bring. He buys his baklava from Ahmet Üstünsürmeli’s baklava shop, Antepliler, right in Haringey. During our tour, we made a snack stop at Ahmet’s shop to talk to him about the Turkish community in London, get to know him a bit more and of course, have a taste of his lahmacun and baklava that got raving reviews from our chef Onder.

Ahmet Üstünsürmeli is from Gaziantep and clearly quite proud of it.  You may remember, we featured Gaziantep on our website a few times, as it is a very famous culinary city in Turkey. Its baklava and pistachios are famous not only in Turkey but also around the world. Ahmet brings these tastes to the Turkish and British communities in London. His pide, lahmacun (Turkish pizza) and kebab shop, his baklava shop with a unique baklava oven he is proud of, and his most recent venture, a liver shop, all line up the same street.

Ahmet’s lahmacun was truly to die for, his baklava deserving its reputation, and his conversation cynically entertaining. But what topped it all so well, after so many shops and markets we visited on this wonderfully tiring day, was the katmer, (a specialty of the Southeastern Anatolia), thinly prepared crunchy filo/phyllo dough filled with sweet cream, baked in a specialty stone baklava oven, and decorated generously with crushed pistachios. One thing led to another, the dark red Turkish tea, a symbol of hospitality in Turkey, followed. Thanks Ahmet bey, for your hospitality and our conversation! You can be sure, we will be visiting you again, soon!  Thanks Onder bey for the insider’s tour!

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Foods of Turkey

Meltem Cervantes

Two Turkish Chefs of London, Onder and Ahmet chatting

over Turkish tea

Turkish katmer

loaded with pistachios

Antepliler Staff Proudly Displaying Their Hard Day’s Work: Kadayif is made fresh here!

Baklava maker covered in baklava flour dust in Antepliler