Posted Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Turkuaz, which means turquoise, as in the color of the Mediterranean Sea, is a Turkish restaurant that opened recently in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

The restaurant’s turquoise doors suggest the interior. The cozy atmosphere is the work of designer Nada Lahlau, who combines soothing colors of blue, turquoise and gray on the walls.

Black-and-white photographs in wooden frames feature Turkish people, architecture and culture. A charming chandelier in the center of the restaurant is adds to the atmosphere.

“I want guests feel comfortable in our restaurant and feel as if they are dining at home. I also want them to come for the food, not the ambiance,” Turkuaz’s head chef Sezai Zorlu said.

The restaurant seats 40 people, but an expansion is in the works, which will include a lounge and private rooms on the second floor.

The chef said he made the restaurant small on purpose to allow him to come and talk to the guests. “I love to explain the food to the guests. Nobody can explain food as well as the chef, because he is the one who cooks it,” Zorlu said.

The restaurant has an open kitchen, allowing guests to see the cooking process. When the freshly-baked breads are pulled out from the oven, the fragrance fills the room.

Zorlu, a Turkish chef who has been living and working in Jakarta for 12 years, was previously at the helm of Turkish restaurant Anatolia in Kemang, South Jakarta. After working for more than 10 years, he finally decided it was time to open his own restaurant.

Although he has spent a long time away from home, Zorlu still remembers how his mother worked in the kitchen all day to prepare food for him and the family. He also remembers one of his most memorable moments was when he saved his pocket money for three to four days to buy a pudding at a local shop.

“I want to share authentic Turkish cuisine, which is cooked with passion and handed down through generations. Many of the menus here are the comfort foods from my own childhood,” he said.

Menus at Turkuaz include the vast culinary influences of the Ottoman era, all prepared with imported ingredients from Turkey and Middle East. For starters, guests can try dips and appetizers such as sigara boregi (olive oil-fried pastry rolled with Turkish white cheese and parsley), zeytinyagli hummus (creamy chickpea puree with extra virgin olive, served with bread) and babaganuc (char-grilled aubergines, tomato and chili peppers mixed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, served with bread).

For salads, the choices are, among others, cacik (homemade natural yoghurt, cucumber cubes and mashed garlic) and gavurdagi salatasi (cucumber, tomatoes and walnuts with pomegranate sauce and extra virgin olive oil), which is a must-try.

For main courses, the chef suggested adana kebab, one of his signature lamb dishes. The lamb and beef fillet are marinated overnight before being grilled and served with thin bread. The juicy meat and the homemade chili paste make a perfect kebab.

Besides the red meat dishes, the menu also offers several vegetarian selections. Some dishes come with an option for small, medium and large portions. Izgara Tavuk Kanadi and Adana Kebab.

For dessert, baklava and kuru kayisi tatlisi is the right choice. The fragile texture of Turkey’s most popular dessert made from layers of filo pastry, butter, pistachios and homemade syrup blends nicely with the walnut stuffed dry apricots, cream and cracked pistachio.

Zorlu said that during the fasting month, the restaurant would have
special menus: kestaneli pilav (rice with chestnut) and gullac (corn starch filo pastry). He recommended guests not consume too much oil or fat during Ramadhan. Otherwise, they will experience stomach discomfort.

Therefore, he suggested the chestnut rice would be good for health because it was made from keratin-rich chestnuts, raisins and carrots, which give enough energy for the holy month. As for gullac, Zorlu said it was a special Turkish Ramadhan dessert.

“We will expand the menu and add more dishes in the future,” he said.

Turkuaz – Authentic Turkish Kitchen

Jl. Gunawarman No. 32 Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

Phone: (021) 7279 5846,
HP. +62 87889 102 169
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Dinner: 6 – 10 p.m.