Saray Restaurant: Turkish Food in Tokyo’s Akasaka

It’s been YEARS since I last had Turkish food. The joys of working in Akasaka. There are a plethora of amazing international restaurants. The past couple of weeks have been a trip down memory lane when it comes to culinary adventures. I work a lot and sleep very little – but I am finding time to enjoy life.

This time it was Saray Restaurant. A few minutes walk away from Akasaka Station, Google Maps was USELESS in helping us navigate there. Hmm… about that… But we found it eventually. It’s in the basement, so it’s easy to miss if your eyes aren’t wide open. The restaurant has a simple, yet warm décor. I couldn’t stop looking at the artwork that was scattered around the place. The lighting was a little weird which made it hard to take pictures but oh well.

Anyways – I wasn’t here for the ambience. I was after the FOOD. Banquets are available – prices start at 3000 yen, but we decided on a la carte because there were many old favourites that I desperately wanted to eat. 

For meze, we ordered Hummus and patlıcan salatası (similar to Baba ghanoush). Oh dear lord, there are not enough words in my vernacular to describe how satisfying it felt to indulge in this after so many years. The dips tasted homemade. Having it with hot and fluffy Turkish bread warmed me inside out. How I have missed Mediterranean cuisine.

And then came the lamb manti: dumplings topped with yoghurt, melted butter and spices. Ok – so this one was delicious, but not a winner in my books. The yoghurt just didn’t do it for me. I could tell they cheated. It was sweet fresh cream, not slightly sour yoghurt. Ah well… The dumplings were good, though.

For the main – we shared the İskender kebap: döner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled red meat. It’s served with tomato sauce and pieces of pita bread slathered with that same ‘cheat yoghurt’ that I spoke of before. I finished this so quickly it wasn’t even funny. It really just had been too long.

And for a sweet finish – we had apple tea and baklava. The tea was way too sweet – I should have known better and asked them not to add sugar but oh well. The baklava was just divine. I felt like I was transported back in time to a lovely honey-filled paradise complete with lots of pastry and pistachio nuts. I highly approve. 

I’ll definitely be back. God willing, that is. God willing.

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