Unlike French, Japanese, or Italian cuisine, good Turkish fare is notoriously difficult to find in Singapore. No, we're not talking about places serving Mediterranean food peppered with a few token Turkish dishes. That would be akin to finding an 'Asian' restaurant in Paris serving up Japanese, Thai, and Indian all in the same breath.
Thankfully, salvation takes the form of Chef Metin Isci from Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, who brings with him an authentic flavour of what Turkish food can and should be. From now till 12 March, he's setting up camp at sister property Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, expanding the extensive buffet selection at Melt Café with a plethora of Turkish delights that go beyond the ubiquitous sweet dessert.
The live kebab station with its grilled lamb and beef kebabs might put up the most theatrical show, but the mezze station should not be missed. With over 300 mezze dishes available in Turkey alone, the spread here gives you but a humble taste of what you can expect — vibrant flavours and rich spices all held together with top-shelf virgin olive oil. Our favourite mezze dish? Acili Ezme, a spicy tomato paste served with green chillies. There's wild sea bass too, served ceviche style with lemon juice and mustard seeds. Both are best enjoyed atop traditional Turkish bread.
Load up on Turkish meat ravioli; fried bulgur spheres containing minced beef with onion and walnut; and roasted leg of lamb, which goes well with fluffy pilaf rice dotted with nuts and dried currants. There's calamari here too, which sees a dedicated chef massaging its flesh before frying it in a thinly coated batter. It was tender to the bite — proof that the poor guy's efforts have not gone to waste.
Dessert here will please the sweet-toothed. Call for the poached quince or enjoy Turkish rice pudding and colourful morsels of Turkish delights with a cup of traditional coffee or tea.
Available at Melt Café from now to 12 March 2016. Tel: 6885 3500