Mari Parseyhan, the manager of Jash, a nostalgic Armenian restaurant, is the perfect host. She is friendly, hospitable and makes you feel at home immediately when you enter her restaurant.
Jash, which means “food” in Armenian, is tucked away in one of the streets of Cihangir, one of the coolest districts of old Istanbul on the slopes down from Taksim to the Bosporus. This new Armenian restaurant has chosen a very suitable location in the Soho of Istanbul, which is known for some of Turkey’s finest in cafes and restaurants.
We had our dinner with a group of friends on the second floor. It has a seating capacity of 35 but has the warm feeling of an old fashioned dining room of some aristocratic family in Paris. The tables, chairs and other furniture is antique as are the old paintings and prints that decorate the walls. An old-fashioned gramophone, the silver chandeliers, an old piano and the red velvet curtains complete the picture.
As cold starters we had stuffed vine leaves, grilled and then slow-cooked aubergine salad with its smoky taste and mussels stuffed with spicy rice. Then we had Circassian chicken with walnuts and the most delicious of all hors-d’oeuvres “Topik”. This is a typical Armenian meze (cold starter) with onions, ground sesame, chicken peas and nuts. Really an excellent taste.
The main courses were marinated grilled chicken, “Harisa” a traditional Armenian chicken dish served as a ragout mixed with wheat, and Armenian style “Istanbul kebab” (meatballs served in a clay pot with herbs and tomatoes). Turkish wines and rakı accompanied our main courses. The Parisian atmosphere was of our dinner was completed with live music from an accordionist.
As desserts we chose quince served with clotted cream, and the house speciality “Zivazegh”, prepared with a kind of French toast soaked in syrup and topped with clotted cream.
Overall we had a great evening. Jash is definitely a place to return to, to enjoy home-style Armenian cuisine with a Turkish twist.
Address: Cihangir Caddesi No. 9
Reservations for dinner are highly recommended
Tel. 0212 244 30 42