When I refer to “Asian Restaurants”, it is technically misleading as over 95% of the land in Turkey belongs to the Asian continent. So technically, Turkish Food as well as most Middle-Eastern and Arab Food is also “Asian Food”. But the general population today refers “Asian Food” as East and Southeast Asia, so we’ll go by that in this post. Kapeesh? Being of Taiwanese-American heritage and growing up eating primarily Chinese food at home, my cravings always goes towards Asian food. I spend my days exploring the best Asian restaurants in Istanbul, as well as markets so I can prepare them at home.
Asian food has just gotten popular in the past few years among Turkish people. And with the large international community of expatriates who live in Istanbul, there is an increasing interest in more Asian Food options. I will note that the average meal will cost more than local Turkish cuisine. I imagine this is a combination of demand, import tax and shipment of ingredients.
Many of them deliver also. It is best to call them directly to put in your order, or through their website if it’s an option. Some of them are on Yemeksepeti or Getir (the most popular delivery service in Turkey) but the restaurants prefer you order directly.
Sushi Restaurants in Istanbul
The most popular Asian restaurants in Istanbul will be Sushi restaurants. Most of them are mediocre quality, but there are a few that stands out such as:
Casual Sushi Dining:
- Ichigo in Cihangir: Just opened in 2021, small, cozy restaurant with less than 10 seating. An exclusive, quality selection of sushi rolls and sashimi. Currently, my favorite Sushi spot in Istanbul as it’s in my neighborhood. You can order directly online for delivery.
- Youzu in Cihangir: Youzu has a large selection of Sushi, Poke, Chinese and Japanese food (like Chicken Katsu Curry) selections. Also a cozy spot in Cihangir (on the same street as Ichigo). Great service and they deliver too.
- Naomi in Nisantasi: Trendy, romantic and adorable restaurant with sidewalk seating. This is a neighborhood gem.
High-end Sushi Restaurants:
- Sunset Grill & Bar in Uluspark, Bebek: This is a classic Istanbul establishment of over 25 years. A refined Asian-Fusion restaurant that defines luxury and a romantic and/or fun experience to a max. Sunset will be one of the pricest restaurants to dine at in Istanbul, but you will surely enjoy the dining experience. The restaurant is connected to a beautiful lounge that turns into a Club on some nights. There is a large balcony with a stunning view of Istanbul, great for photo opportunities. They also have a fine selection of wine and cocktails.
- Banyan in Ortakoy: Higher end but not as expensive as Sunset or Nobu, Banyan offers Asian Fusion and international cuisine with a gorgeous view of Bosphorus from their 2nd story restaurant.
- Nobu at the Ritz Carlton: If you don’t mind blowing a ton of money, you can’t go wrong with dining at Nobu. The quality is on par with Nobu from around the world. But personally, I’d prefer Sunset over Nobu.
The Only and Best Vietnamese Restaurant
You will find authentic Vietnamese Food at the only Vietnamese Restaurant in Istanbul at Nha Ginza Ginza in Ortakoy. In addition to the mouth-watering food, the owner Victoria is a 2nd generation Vietnamese American who has resided in Turkey for the past 5 years. She first opened her restaurant in Bodrum which was a hit, and then moved it to Istanbul in early 2021. She is a delight to chat with and you feel at home in this cozy 3 story restaurant. I highly recommend going with a group as you want to order everything on the menu to try! The top floor offers a private Karaoke room that can be rented out at affordable prices. Alcohol is also sold.
What to Order:
- For appetizers: Shrimp (or vegetarian) Spring Rolls & Fried Egg Rolls
- Bun Bo Hue: My absolute favorite! A spicy (and slightly sour) Beef Noodle Soup, which takes hours of preparation. The broth is prepared for hours by simmering beef bone and shank; then cooked with lemongrass, seasoned with fermented shrimp and fish sauce.
- Pho: The most popular Vietnamese Noodle Soup
- Udon, Ramen
- Hainan Chicken over Rice
- They also offer Sushi Rolls
Did you know that Turkey and Korea has historically had a close friendship? Earliest trace of relations is to the time of antiquity. And in the recent century, Turkish soldiers helped fight in the Korean War in the 1950s. More recently, a Free Trade Agreement between the 2 countries was signed in 2013. There are many Korean businesses throughout Turkey, especially in Istanbul. Hence, you can find some authentic Korean cuisines:
- Koreköy: There is 1 in Sisli and 2 on the Asian Side in Kadikoy and Usukudar. They even have a cute online shop selling Korean snacks, books and knick knacks on Shopier.
- Seorabeol: Located in Gayrettepe, this is many people’s favorite Korean Restaurant in Istanbul.
What to Order: Bibimbap, one of the Sizzling Hot Soups, Kimbap, Korean BBQ meat
- Thai Style Food: Running across this small authentic Thai restaurant practically made my year! Randomly located in Fatih (off the Findazade Tram line), the food tastes as if you’re in a local restaurant or food stall in south Thailand. I absolutely love this restaurant. Be sure to ask for less spicy as their standard is even spicier than I can handle (and I LOVE SPICY FOOD!)
The Pera and Cihangir area has a few Thai restaurants:
- AZ Çok Thai: Located in Cihangir, a modest Thai restaurant.
- Pera Thai: Upscale Thai Restaurant in the Pera district (near Galata)
- Çok Çok Thai: A Fancier Thai restaurant in the Soho House Plaza in Pera
Tian Xiang Fu is an authentic Chinese Hot Pot restaurant located in Sisli. Absolutely delicious with a fine selection of meat cuts. I usually go for the Mongolian Spicy Hot Pot + a Lamb cut + sides of Mixed Mushrooms, Tofu and Vegetables. They also have regular dishes on the menu, where you can order white rice with some meat and vegetable dishes. Everything I have tasted there has been DELICIOUS!
Koali Lounge & Dine: Authentic food run by a friendly Indonesian staff located in the Galata area, near the Tophane Tram stop.
Asian Markets in Istanbul
The most well known Asian Market in Istanbul is China Supermarket near Taksim Square. They have a wide selection of sauces, dried noodles, rice, asian cooking supplies, snacks and some frozen food such as dumplings. Unfortunately, prices are expensive and customer service can be rude.
For Korean markets, there is Smart Market: one in Eyupsultan (European side) and Umraniye (Asian side). The lady who owns the one on the Asian side is very friendly and sometimes she sells freshly made Kimbap (YUM!). There you can also find a selection of sauces, ramen packets, frozen meats (fish, pork, beef), kimchi and tofu.
Ichiban Bento & Mini Market is a Japanese market that also sells food you can eat there, located in Etiler.
Want to explore more food options? Read my post on some of the best Arabic Food in Istanbul.