Street food spotlight: Istanbul’s Islak Burger

Istanbul's Islak Burger

My personal rule while travelling is to try what the locals eat. When it comes to local food, there’s no better place to start than street food.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and as frightening as the islak burger looks, I assure you that it is worth a try if you ever find yourself in the Taksim Square area of Istanbul. When my husband and I expressed interest in sampling this burger, our Turkish friends brought us over to a small shop called Kizilkayalar, which they insisted was “the best”.

The islak hamburger – also called a wet burger –  is essentially a small spiced meat patty sandwiched in a soft bun that is dipped very quickly in a spiced oil-slicked tomato jus.

I am definitely not a fan of soggy bread, and at first, I thought it would be a greasy, wet sponge. To my surprise, the bun was soft, with just a small touch of grease (this is late night junk food, after all). The burger itself was a little overcooked, but very tasty. The whole experience actually reminded of a Chicago Italian beef sandwich, which is basically a sliced beef sandwich dipped quickly in flavourful a beef jus.

It’s not something to eat everyday, but I can see why it’s so popular and I would definitely go for another one the next time I’m in Istanbul.

What kind of street food have you tried?