Whenever I have a visitor coming to Istanbul for the first time, friends or business, or whenever someone asks me where to take their first timer visitors, one of my top three choices is always Doga Balık.
Not only for foreign visitors, of course. I never fall short of reasons to go there for a feast on overwhelming selection of mezes (small portions of starters) crowned with freshest fish.
The name of the restaurant translates into English as ‘Nature Fish’. The owner and chef Ibrahim Sogukdag likes to serve fish as naturally as possible along with a superb variety of fresh greens. He was a fisherman himself before he got started in the restaurant business, and he knows the fish very well. He is aided by his wife in the preparation of mezes.
They have some 35 different very exotic and healthy forest greens, most of them coming from Aegean coasts. You can order a mixed selection where they serve several of them. They get all the more aromatic with a sprinkle of olive oil together with lemon and garlic sauce. Don’t miss their non-green mezes, mercimek köftesi ( lentil balls) and monk fish salad are their specialities. I usually end up loading myself with mezes and sharing the main fish course with others.
Recently relocated to the eighth floor of the Citycenter Hotel, on a side street very close to Taksim, they have a commanding view of the Bosphorus and old city. Best time is towards the sunset in the evening.