Yuksel Balik, Istanbul

We were on our way to Cappadocia, and we have 5 hours to spare in Istanbul airport. Not ones to sit around doing nothing while on holiday, I decided to google my problem. Lo and behold, this tripadvisor forum has the exact answer I’m looking for: “leave the airport and go for a nice seafood lunch” (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g293974-i368-k3866533-5_hour_layover_at_International_airport-Istanbul.html)

So we took Dudisimo’s instruction to the letter. We got out of the airport, detailed map in hand, and hailed a taxi to the restaurant. Unfortunately we got driven around a little bit by the taxi driver. My holiday moods were well dampened (after a slightly heated argument with said taxi driver) even before the holiday started. I tried to tell myself, where there are tourists, there will be cheats, such is life. I’m not ever going to get over the incident of course, but the food at Yuksel Balik did a great job at improving my mood. What can I tell ya, fresh seafood does wonders.

The restaurant is spacious and clean. The waiters are in black suits and very formal. As we were there for late lunch, the place was quite empty, with only a couple of tables filled.


The restaurant is right on the marina. I did try to order my frugal “tap water please” drink, forgetting that 1) we are in a fancy restaurant on the marina, and 2) you shouldn’t drink tap water in Turkey.

Anyhoo, they politely declined and bought us fancy-looking bottle of water. Delicious.


  • Top: Octopus tentacles, beautifully grilled, lathered in heavenly sauce which tastes like soy sauce. We’ll call it Turkish soy sauce. To. Die. For.
  • Bottom left: Bread, butter, and fresh lemon to go with your fresh seafood.
  • Bottom right: Grilled squid in chilli-flake oil. Amazing.


We wanted fish for main course, and the waiter recommended us the above fish of the day. Grilled to perfection again. One half each because he thinks it should be enough. And it was enough. Heavenly half fish portions were served (on two separate plates, how sweet) with some greens, and amazing grilled potatoes with chilli oil.

Squeeze some lemon on the neatly-filleted fish, flake some lovely fish meat with your fork, put it in your mouth, close your eyes and let the lemony fish do the rest.

We were filled to the brim and ready to go. But not before sampling our first Turkish tea to round off the meal.


We paid the bill and asked the restaurant to call us a taxi back to the airport. This taxi driver drove us directly back to the airport. No detour. We tipped him heavily to encourage his honesty (and we believe we should at least match the cheat’s rate).

We’d go back to this restaurant in a heartbeat. You should try it out if you are in Istanbul or have a few hours stopover.

Menu, location, etc: http://www.yukselbalik.com.tr/