Part of the beauty of living in Singapore is the tantalizing array of different cuisines that are available on this tiny island. We may not always have time to travel overseas to savor the best of their local food, but their food comes readily to us. Ottoman Kebab & Grill is the latest casual eatery by First Gourmet (the company behind Zaffron Kitchen and Prata Wala) to open at Bedok Mall, serving up traditional turkish delights in a cozy corner unit. It was worth the long journey to the east (and expensive taxi fare back home) for me, because the food is sooooooo yummy!
I wonder when will I ever visit Turkey to try their food, but I trust Ottoman's Head Chef Ali Kose in bringing us the authentic taste true to his native homeland. With over ten years of culinary experience (including two years as the sous chef at Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Maze in London), I can't imagine him having any problems in doing so.
If you happen to catch a glimpse of Chef Ali behind the glass walls of the show kitchen slicing meat off the vertical rotating Shawarma spits or keeping an eye on the lava-stone grill laden with kebabs, wave to say "hi". He is very friendly, the delicious and affordable food he serves up is just as friendly to our wallets.
The menu at Halal-certified Ottoman is concise with quintessential middle eastern favorites such as Pide (flatbread), Homus (chick pea dip), Borek (spring rolls), as well as Doner Kebabs (meat roasted on vertical rotating split) and Shish Kebabs (meat threaded on metal skewers and grilled) with choices of chicken, beef, mutton and seafood (fish fillet and prawn).
If Turkish cuisine is something rather new to you and you're unsure of what to order, just go with one of their weekday Lunch Set ($8.50 - $12.50) or Dinner Special ($14.50 - $20.50) selections which includes a daily soup and an apple tea. Another option is to continue reading my post here because I will tell you what is good! Haha!
Apple Tea ($3), one of the most popular beverages in Turkey, would be the best accompaniment to the meal experience. I like to enjoy the slightly sweet black tea chilled for a refreshing taste, though the hot version has its own rustic charm too especially when served in those dainty tulip-shaped glasses and saucers printed with "evil eye", an ancient Turkish symbol to protect against evil.
The hallmark of a good Turkish establishment has to be its Homous ($6). Ottoman does the chick pea dip very well here, making it thick, smooth and creamy, and utterly enjoyable with Pide ($2), the warm and soft flatbread which is cooked over lava stones for a characteristic char-grilled aroma.
It might take a while for unaccustomed palates to get use to the dry and densely-packed Falafel ($5 for 3pcs), but the deep-fried croquettes of ground chick pea and fava bean balls soon won me over with its distinct flavor of spices (tip: I ate it together with homous for added moisture). Cheese Borek ($6 for 6pcs) is another great snack to munch on, but I thought the Turkish version of spring roll could do with more feta cheese filling.
For main courses, the Iskender Mutton Kebab ($18.50) is a brilliant choice. Minced mutton patties were evenly grilled to delish perfection and served over a bed of crispy pide croutons. The whole dish is generously slathered with an appetite whetting sun-dried tomato sauce, but do also spoon over some yoghurt before tucking in for a more tangy flavor. The substantial portion makes it great for sharing.
Equally hearty and satisfying is the signature Ottoman Shish Platter ($29), a great-value sumptuous combination of beef, chicken, seafood (also available as individual skewers $7.50-$12.50) with pide and pilav rice. The beef is considered tender for its medium-well doneness, while the mushy prawn could be fresher. It's the chicken which stole all the applause for its succulence and bites of charred edges... woohoo my favorite! I would definitely order the chicken again!
Also noteworthy is the pilav rice which is cooked in butter and broth using short grain rice, resulting in a soft, slightly sticky texture and smelled wonderfully fragrant. Very very lovely!
That evening was my first encounter with Kunefe ($8.50) and I liked it! Soft stretchy Nabulsi goat cheese is encased within shredded kadayif phyllo pastry before pan-fried with butter to an outer crust of golden hue and crispiness, then drizzled with sugar syrup and crushed pistachios. The dessert is freshly cooked only upon order and is understandably laborious to make as it requires constant flipping to avoid burning, so do allow 20 minutes of preparation time. Worth the wait, as the union of layered textures and sweetness with hint of saltiness taste is DIVINE! A must-order!
Patience is also needed to enjoy a cup of Turkish Coffee ($4), which is another intriguing experience by itself. Served black or with milk in exquisite porcelain, the coffee is not filtered so we should wait for a few minutes to allow the coffee grounds to settle before sipping on the heady blend. My coffee with milk was rich not only in flavor, but in the tradition too. After finishing the coffee, turn the cup upside down on the saucer and allow it to cool, before flipping it over to see the patterns formed from the coffee grounds remaining in the cup. Apparently, you can read your fortune from this. Haha! Try it, maybe?
Though Turkish food is not as familiar to me as other cuisines, the level of gratification is by no means any less. All in all, it was a fantastic dining experience at Ottoman!
Ottoman Kebab & Grill
Address: 311 New Upper Changi Road #01-75 Bedok Mall, Singapore 467360
Contact: +65 67024031
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-10pm