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"Asitane's menu comprises only dishes that featured in the kitchens of the royal palaces during this period and provided my introduction to almond soup from the 16th century; Ottoman hummus slightly sweetened with cinnamon and currants; and from the special menu that currently celebrates Fatih Sultan Mehmet, who conquered what was then Constantinople just over 556 years ago, Sultan's 'Yahni', a lamb and chicken stew with chickpeas and cumin."
6 June 2009 by Nick Lander / Financial Times
If you visit the Chora Church museum with its beautifully protected 12th-century mosaics (a must when you are in Istanbul), I strongly recommend lunch next door where you can also explore the past – through your palette. The chefs at Asitane scoured the archives for Sultans' festival menus at the Topkapi Palace kitchen, and recreated recipes from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Stuffed melon, or stuffed quince in winter, are to die for.
23 January 2010 by Jason Goodwin / The Guardian
Asitane Restaurant is located in Edirnekapi, considered by many to be one of the most important areas of historical Istanbul. The restaurant lies in the shadow of the mighty Chora Church which is famous for its mosaics and is one of the most important and well kept buildings of the Byzantine era. Located high up in the foot hills overlooking the Golden Horn, Asitane opened its doors in 1991, together with the Kariye Hotel, now a restored 19th century traditional Ottoman mansion.
The restaurant, whose dishes reflect the eclectic nature of the Turco-Ottoman neighbourhood, was named Asitane which not only means "Head Gate" in Farsi but was also one of the many names given to Istanbul throughout the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Thus it was decided that the restaurant should specialize in fine Ottoman court cuisine.
Extensive research was undertaken six months prior to the opening of the restaurant as kitchen registries deep from the archives of Topkapý and Dolmabahçe Palaces were scoured for recipes, and relevant documentation was found in Istanbul's Beyazýt and Millet libraries. Additional important sources of information for the duration of the preparation period were dug up using old Ottoman dictionaries, the written historic accounts of various statesmen, medical practitioners and soldiers.
In the thirteen years that it has been open Asitane Restaurant is now able to boast an impressive archive comprised of over 200 forgotten sweet and savory recipes, which are prepared in keeping with the cooking methods of 500 years ago.
Nearly one hundred recipes had to be discarded or modified in order to either suit today's modern palate, or simply because the ingredients no longer exist in this day and age.
The menu now features dishes originally prepared for the sumptuous celebration feast given for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent's two sons, Bayezid II and Þah Cihangir, at Edirne Palace in November 1539.
The restaurant periodically has themed weeks such as "The Age of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror", "Ottoman Aphrodisiacs", "Fish and Seafood Ottoman Style"as part of its mission to introduce the tastes of a bygone era to all.
Asitane Restaurant is open everyday from 11:00-24:00. Additionally the restaurant caters for weddings, organizations and other special events.
Eating here is a live history class.
"Under the Ottoman Empire the guilds of cooks were fiercely secretive about their culinary tricks. Consequently few recipes survive from the four and a half centuries of Ottoman rule (1453 to 1918).
In a district of old houses just off a little3 square lined with plane trees, next door to one of the Byzantine churches, St. Savior in Chora, Asitane has devoted itself to the re-creation of this lost cuisine."
New York Times - October 2006
"The large and airy Asitane Restaurant serves imperial Ottoman cuisine, incorportating Centeral Asitan, Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Balkan flavours, resulting from the intensive research undertaken at theree palace kitchens (Dolmabahce, Topkapi and Edirne) to test and recreate long-forgotten imperisl dishes, whose recipes were traditionally kept secret. Some of the rediscovered dishes on the menu, such as veal in apple sauce, were serverd at the circumcision feast held for two of Suleyman's sons in 1539. The location might be off the beaten track, but Asitane is the one and only restaurant in the city where intrepid diners can experience such unlikely-sounding treats as almond soup. This is a restaurant for the serious culinary adventurer."
From Style City Istanbul
"... Heady stuff, but Turkey has a history of fusion food. The imperial Ottoman kitchen prided itself on blending recipes and ingredients from across its vast territories: Circassian chicken and Arabic hummus, to name two. For Ottoman flavor, head for Asitane, www.asitanerestaurant.com, in the Old City, which re-creates dishes served at a feast given by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1539, based on archival research. The sumptuous menu reflects Greek, Persian, Arab and even North African influences. The Sultan, it turns out, was an early fan of fusion."
Time, May. 17, 2007