Istanbul is unique. It is the only city in the world where two continents meet. Enjoy old and new in the cultural capital of Turkey with Istanbul expert Marc Guillet

Aegean-Turkish cuisine @ Lokanta Maya

Posted on 11 January 2015

Lokanta Maya. Photo: Rene Ames

I visited this restaurant today again and as a lover of good food I want to share with all of you my blog I wrote about this wonderful restaurant in 2012 again.


Last Thursday night I was happy to be invited by my friend Rene Ames to Lokanta Maya, one of the most popular new bistros in Istanbul. He started the Food & Beverage Group, a group dedicated to good food and beverage encompassing the world’s culinary fares that are found in Istanbul, whether offered in restaurants or in private settings. He organizes dining events in local venues that serve impeccably-prepared and creatively-conceived food as well as tasting events.

Lokanta Maya was chosen as the venue for the first event of 2012. And well chosen indeed! Really a  hidden gem in one of the back streets of Karaköy. The tasty, modern design of the bistro was a prelude of the tasty, modern and creative dishes that were awaiting us.

Chef-owner Didem Şenol, who studied in New York the French Culinary Institute and wrote a nice and colorful cookbook Aegean Flavours, prepared an interesting menu for our group of foodies. She worked in New York’s Le Cirque and in the 3 Michelin-starred Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park restaurant. In 2010 she won Time Out Istanbul’s Best Chef Award.

After being welcomed with an Assembly cocktail the friendly and professional staff seated us in our carefully ‘Rene choreographed’ arrangement. We were offered five of Didem Şenol’s exquisite Aegean starters.

  1. Legume salad with pomegranate
  2. Zucchini fritters, dill yogurt sauce
  3. Marinated sea bass
  4. Crispy fresh anchovies with traditional sauce made of garlic, olive oil, and egg
  5. Warm goat cheese, persimmons, almond

I’m not a great lover of things fried, except French fries. My favorite appetizer was the salad of green lentils, bulgur, rucola salad, parsley and pomegranate. A great and creative combination, and a perfect mix of sweet and sour.  The warm goat cheese was my second favorite, loved itM!

My favorite appetizer: Legume salad with pomegranate. Photo: Rene Ames

The dinner menu was wine-paired with our sponsor for tonight UMURBEY wines, one of Turkey’s prestigious boutique labels. The white wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, of 2007 matched well with the starters. The red wine was a disappointment. I couldn’t get the real flavor of it as it was unfortunately served cold! That’s a problem in many Turkish restaurants. They serve their red wines way too cold ‘because the customers want it that way’. Well then we have to start educating Turkish wine drinkers and show them that red wine should be served at a room temperature to enjoy the taste of the red wines.

As entree I chose wine basted sea bass with fennel “Pilaki”. It was a disappointment for me. I missed something that would have given the sea bass some more flavor. As a real foodie I couldn’t resist asking Rene if I could a lso taste some of his grilled chicken with pumpkin orzo risotto. Wow! That was really a feast of flavors.

I was not impressed with the restaurant’s desserts: Pudding Mastic and Pumpkin puree. To be honest I’m not a great lover of desserts anyway. Overall we had a great evening and two in our group – me included – had a special surprise by the restaurant (thanks to Rene!). A candle on our dessert as we celebrated our birthdays. Thanks!

We enjoyed a lovely evening and had some great dishes from the contemporary Aegean-Turkish cuisine. For the whole experience I would rate the restaurant with a 8+


LOKANTA MAYA is located right in the next block after the Güllüoğlu Baklavacı in Karaköy. There’s a multistoried parking garage next door.


Kemankeş Caddesi 35/A


Tel.  +90 212 252 6884

Open Tuesday-Saturday noon-5pm and 7pm-11pm

Monday: lunch only

Lokanta Maya was rated as one of The Guardian’s 10 Best Restaurants in Istanbul


Tags: > > > >

4 responses to “Aegean-Turkish cuisine @ Lokanta Maya”

  1. Wendy Serter says:

    I loved the restaurant too Marc! Great food (indeed I agree, the chicken was much better than the fish!) and lovely owners and guests. Will definitively come back here again.

  2. Kevin Merrick says:

    Not sure how your personal ratings system works but for someone who does not like fried food, thought the fish dish was tasteless and is not a desert lover your scores are remakably high.
    What we need as readers is honesty, score as you truly believe and do not say what you think others want to hear, a most annoying habit.
    In saying that I will give this place a try even tho it does appear to be flavour of the month in this publication.

  3. Pieter Maarleveld says:

    Just over a week ago my wife Elsbeth and myself had the pleasure of dining at lokanta Maya. We both enjoyed our dinner very much. The service was great (charming girl) and for all who read this I would recommend lokanta Maya highly.
    Elsbth had the recommende chicken which was good and I tried the winer schnitzel which also was very nice.
    My only reservation would be a touringcar across the street waiting for 50 passengers to board which took quit a while. This, however would not prevent me for coming back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *