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18 November 2014  |  0 comment  |  Ali Deniz Uslu

The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.

What does Albanian Meatball Restaurant mean to you? If nothing, it probably will from now on!

  • The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.
  • The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.
  • The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.
  • The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.
  • The pearl of Balat: Albanian Meatball Restaurant.

Because Albanian Meatball Restaurant, or Mavi Köşe as it’s formally known, is one of the treasures of Balat. This is a place where flavor meets tradition, culture meets history and yesterday meets today. Its establishment dates back to 1937. As such, the taste of this experience is reflected on its meatball and delicious trileçe. But it’s not very easy to share the magnificent means at Albanian, because first you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. Here’s what Mine İştay, the third generation representative of this lovely Istanbul adventure had to say…

- “Mavi Köşe”, or “Albanian Meatball Restaurant” as it’s widely known, is one of the pearls of Balat. What’s the origin of this story? How did this Istanbul fairy tale begin?  

Mavi Köşe, named Albanian Meatball Restaurant by the public, has been here since 1937. I’m the third generation in the profession. My family is originally from Tirana, we’re Albanian. My grandfather’s family came here before 1885, and settled in Balat. When they first came, they started with the dairy industry, then they started to produce salep, and later this small shop was established.

- Albanian Meatball Restaurant has almost been the sacred place of meatball and haricot bean salad, tripe soup and the Albanian dessert trileçe. What’s the secret of this?

That we make everything naturally and the way they should be made, and nothing more… Besides, this restaurant has an open kitchen. We make every dish before everyone. Including me, four people run the restaurant, and nothing’s left to the next day. I mean, we sell every food we cook on the same day.

- Customers should also know the serving time for meatballs and tripe soup, right? 

We open at 06.30 in the morning; our tripe soup is ready first. For meatballs, you have to wait until 11.00 at the earliest. Tuesdays and Fridays are our Albanian liver days. We serve trileçe on three days of the week. On some days, we serve Kemalpaşa as dessert. Certainly, green beans, eggplant and stews depending on the season. We close the shop at 16.00 sharp, and we prepare for the next day.


- Who comes here most?  

People from all around the world come here. Particularly tourists prefer us. Moreover, quite a few people from all parts of Istanbul come here for food escapades. Famous or unknown, everyone is here. We’ve been in this business for three generations, and our guests are also from three generations. We have a nice tradition now. Like I said, we have an open kitchen; sometimes you may even serve your food yourself, it’s natural here. Moreover, we sent our uncooked meatballs even to Italy and China. In Turkey, people are buying them from every region. 

- What’s it like to be a tradeswoman in Balat? 

I’ve been here for 12 years, I’m the only one. Of course it raises some minor difficulties, but the tradesmen embraced me after they got used. In fact, everyone greets and takes care of and looks after everyone here. 

- Balat is changing. As a witness of this change, what are your observations?  

Yes, Balat is changing. And this change has accelerated for the last three years. Naturally, this change has both pros and cons. Time is needed for everything to settle. The only thing I know is that people love the soul of this district…

Address: Mürselpaşa Cad. No:155 Köprübaşı Balat Tel: (0212) 531 66 52

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