Ercan Karaman and his family started serving doners, boreks and other Turkish fare as a farmer’s market vendor in 2017. But Karaman was no culinary newbie. At age 15, he began doing prep work in kitchens in his native land. Following cooking school and jobs in plush Istanbul hotels, Karaman was recruited to lead the kitchen at Kazan Restaurant in McLean. He spent roughly 20 years at the stalwart. All this adds up to a very promising pedigree for Taste of Istanbul, the Karaman family’s full-service restaurant, which opens this Sunday, May 16, at Reston Town Center.
Karaman raised his sons in Reston, and both will be working at Taste of Istanbul, says one of them, Erkan. For four years, the family has been doing the Wednesday Fresh Farm market on Lawyers Road. “We have a great customer base there,” says Erkan. It’s not too far from One Loudoun, where they take part in the Eat LoCo market, too.
The faithful will recognize Taste of Istanbul’s rotating skewers of doner kebab from which Ercan slices the meat for wraps. But the menu at Taste of Istanbul goes far beyond the dishes served at the market. The doner meat finds its way onto plates as iskender kebab, a sought-after dish bathed in spiced tomato sauce. Other grilled goods include everything from filet mignon and lamb chops to calf’s liver. From the oven, there are boat-shaped pide, as well as lahmacun, a crispy-crusted pizza equivalent topped with a blend of beef and lamb. There are desserts beyond baklava, too, such as stretchy cheese-filled kunefe and burned milk pudding kazandibi.
The menu at Taste of Istanbul is fully halal. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.// 1862 Explorer St., Reston
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