Alancha - 2Before talking about food let’s talk a bit about people, namely of Kemal Demirasal, a 34 year old young man, from Izmir, a coastal region of Turkey, famous for being one of the most important champions of the Turkish Windsurf. And if sports and cuisine have nothing in common, the truth is that it was the passion for food that made him become a cook, with travels, lots of meals, practice and lots of experiments. In 2013 he opened, in Alaçati (a famous summer resort in the coast of the Aegean Sea), the first Alancha. To which followed a new space, already in 2015, this time in Istanbul, with a wider and more international audience.

The concept represents the well-marked influence of Nature in Kemal’s life. Marked by the Nordic New Cuisine, Kemal searches in the most pure ingredients of Anatolia, a basis to create a new culinary universe in some kind of Revisited Turkish Cuisine.

Alancha - 3The restaurant occupies some floors of the luxurious complex Armani Maçka Residence, in a combination of industrial revolution vs. ecology, with a Nordic matrix, the decoration of Gürcan Dere creates an astonishing environment, modern and cosmopolitan, marked by Nature and with amazing details, like the tall wood tables, the bar or the cellar. One of the most beautiful and overwhelming restaurants I ever had the chance to visit.

The space is dived into 3 different areas, the first room “beets”, with tall, wide and comfortable tables serves for lunches and the à la carte menu, followed by the bar, where the master Göksel Güleç and his team create the most modern and interesting signature cocktails of the city. And on the second floor, the “tasting” room, exclusive for dinner where there is only the Tasting Menu with over 18 dishes inspired by the Anatolia cuisine.

But on to the food, as even I start getting hungry while my memories come back as I’m writing.

Given the impossibility of visiting the space at dinner we opted for a selection of dishes available for the lunch menu, some of them also present on the tasting menu.

Alancha - 4           Alancha - 5           Alancha - 6Already installed, 3 appetizers arose, each one at a time, first a fresh and light thyme cream, with lemon zest and almonds, unique flavor and creaminess. Coming in second some Jerusalem artichoke chips with aioli, savory and pretty crunchy with a great aioli. To finish, boşnak with truffle cream, a traditional dried meat (maybe a bit too dry), accompanied by a delicious dark cream made with truffle.

Alancha - 7Followed two different types of bread, sourdough and potato bread, both slightly toasted on the grill and both with exceptional quality (the Turkish bread is something that I like a lot!) accompanying a black sea butter covered with tomato powder, which revealed to be the perfect companion, moreover, I was happy with just this, but the meal went on.

Alancha - 9Fennel
“Fennel”, was the description of one of the dishes in the menu, with basis on its main ingredient. A light and tasty cream, with pinions, orange juice reduction (keeping its freshness) and a delicious sautéed fennel. One of those dishes that makes you think twice about the vegetarian universe.

Alancha - 8Octopus, chickpea and lemon puree, coriander sauce, orange powder and chives
Another beautiful dish, both as beautiful as it was good. All the elements worked well together and individually, with highlight to the integration of the citric freshness of the orange powder and the addition of the lemon to the puree. Also the chives with some more burnt areas served very well as earth element, creating a great balance between earth and sea. Luxurious.

Alancha - 10Fava beans, verbena and truffle
Fava beans cooked with a vegetable broth, onion and chives, enriched with truffle and verbena, at first sight a simple dish, very simple, but in reality if the fennel dish made us think twice, this one provided a true vegetarian “orgasm”.

Alancha - 12Rock Bass (a Bass type), flowers, bergamot and tarragon
Fish grilled on spot, crispy skin and succulent meat over a bed of edible flowers, most likely fermented. Accompanying a bergamot sauce and a light tarragon oil. A dish full of dimensions, from the textures to the flavors, completely filling the palate. Very good.

Alancha - 11Lamb, yogurt cream and purple carrot
Grilled lamb, slightly glazed. Accompanied with purple carrot and a yogurt cream. Another visually flawless dish, full of character, strength and inspiration well creased in the Turkish universe.

Alancha - 14Mushroom Ice Cream
Mushroom?? Yes, yes, and it was overwhelming! Creamy texture, light flavor, reinforced by the mushroom powder and complemented by the freshness of the orange and coconut tea. Brilliant!

Alancha - 13Kars Gavyeri cheese, pomegranate marmalade, semolina thin cake
My tasting notes took me to something near a Swiss gruyere, but it didn’t make sense with basis on the restaurant’s concept. However and enlightened à posteriori by Kemal, the cheese is a gruyere made in the small town of Kars, one of the cheese producer regions of the ancient Anatolia. With the cheese an interesting marmalade of pomegranate and a thin semolina cake, all of them interesting elements, working well with the cheese. However, the most surprising element goes to the airy cream that unites all the elements, made with water and sugar beaten to that texture. In this part you’re asking which is the avant gard technique to reach that texture, well the technique is apparently ancestral, consisting of putting some quillaja or soapwort roots in the water, boil it and infuse it from one day to the next and then beat that water with a sugar syrup creating something similar to a meringue called Natef. In this case, the slightly spicy notes and its texture worked very well with the remaining elements as well as with the wine.

Alancha - 15Beetroot, caramel, yogurt mousse and corn
I’m not a fan of very sweet desserts (with one or another exception to the Portuguese convent sweets), and this proposal form Alancha was all I could ask for a brilliant end to this meal. Dehydrated beetroots cooked in syrup, a great and fresh yogurt mousse with a crunchy touch of the tufted corn, all connected by an amazing caramel sauce. Great ending!

We once again accompanied our meal with a national wine, Pombal do Vesúvio 2009 that behaved up to the entire meal.

Alancha - 21Pombal do Vesúvio and the great cup service

The Service lives by the same image of the restaurant, relaxed and informal but highly professional and attentive to every detail.

I cannot help to highlight the plating, all armed with beautiful artisanal plates and an aesthetic care beyond the influences of the Nordic cuisine in Kemal. The colors, the assembly, the elements and the textures have a huge role in this new clothing the chef gives to his Turkish cuisine.

Alancha - 20Kitchen Lab

We didn’t end our experience at Alancha without a guided visit to all the areas of the restaurant and a small conversation with Kemal, about his ideas and the future of this new cuisine in Istanbul. If the idea I got as soon as I entered the space was good, during the visit it got even better, the investment (very high for sure!) reflects in the most diverse areas, from the luxury of the naturalist decoration, to the detail of the pieces used in the service, from the cellar to the kitchen laboratory where on a daily basis the chefs create and register a never ending list of techniques and ways to use ingredients in the future dishes of the restaurant.

Alancha - 22           Alancha - 19           Alancha - 17

Final Remarks
Kemal Demirasal is another of the young cuisine geniuses, who intend, and get to revolutionize the cuisines of their countries, keeping the ingredients, the identity and giving them a new image and brilliance. In Kemal’s case, he started his adventure in Izmir, on his first Alancha (still open), with a majority of Turkish public. Nowadays, with the opening of this new space in Istanbul his cuisine presents itself to the world and to a much wider range of foodies and gastronomes, the demand, the accuracy and obligations are now much higher, but also must be the rewards. The presented cuisine is exuberant and attractive, while using ingredients as simple as fava beans or beetroots, the techniques and the general quality of the entire meal in a restaurant open for just a month (when we visited) couldn’t leave a better impression. I have no doubt that in the future, and maintaining the current tourist flow in the city, Alancha will make part of the famous guide The World’s 50 Best of the Restaurant magazine.

Concerning me, completely overwhelmed, as I never expected to leave, and every time more convinced that Istanbul is one of the best destinations in the world for gastronomic tourism.

Alancha – Istanbul
Hüsrev Gerede Cad., Sehit Mehmet Sok 9 Besiktas – Istanbul
(212) 261 35 35

Pombal do Vesúvio 2009 with the support of Symington Family

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