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Authentic Turkish cuisine available only in Chatan

Date Posted: 2007-06-28

The head chef at Istanbul Kebab House speaks no English, and no Japanese either. What Ahmet Tas does do is cook superbly authentic Turkish dishes that can be found no place else on Okinawa.

More than 40 dishes are on the Istanbul Kebab House menu, and they’re all exactly like you’d find in Turkey. Ahmet leads an experienced kitchen team in creating culinary masterpieces—all meals and meats are Hallal—of beef, chicken and lamb. Another traditional touch to the restaurant are belly dancing shows that are performed right at the customers’ tables on special occasions.

The restaurant adjacent to Araha Beach in Chatan has been wildly successful since its opening last December, intriguing customers with exotic appetizers, succulent dishes and traditional Turkish baklava and ice creams for dessert. Istanbul Kebab House is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. Lunch specials are served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for dinner specials from 3 p.m. to closing. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.

The daily special lunch, at a very reasonable ¥900, features kebab, rice, salad, soup and a drink. The Iskender lunch, which includes Doner Kebab with tomato sauce blended with yogurt, is ¥1,000.

The kebab is a category of grilled food in itself, and bears a brief explanation for the uninitiated. Turkish in origin, the kebab dates back to times when nomadic Turks learned to roast meat over their open campfires. Kebabs are further differentiated by whether meats are grilled and how they are arranged.

Most westerners are familiar with the Sis Kebab and the Doner Kebab. Sis kebabs are grilled cubes of skewered meat, most often served with vegetables grilled in between the meat cubes. Doner kebabs are prepared by stacking alternating layers of ground meat and sliced leg of lamb on a large upright skewer, which is then slowly rotated in front of a vertical grill. As the outer layer of the meat is roasted, thin slices are shaved off and served.

Chef Ahmet uses his own series of secret seasoning blends to create his signature dishes, which range from chicken to beef to lamb. Ahmet proclaims his gyro the best in Okinawa. Beef and minced Sis Kebabs are available for ¥1,200, chicken sis kebabs are ¥1,000 and lamb sis kebabs are ¥1,400. All are served with rice and bread.

Among the more popular dishes: chicken tava ¥1,000, Iskender kebab ¥1,000, Falafel ¥800, and Humusis ¥700. Istanbul Kebab House serves pita bread sandwiches for ¥400 each, and two flavors of Turkish sticky ice cream for ¥400. Imported Turkish EFES beer is available for a nominal ¥600.

Istanbul Kebab House has an English-speaking staff, accepts credit cards and dollars, and has free parking. It’s located right across from Lawson next to Araha Beach in Chatan.

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