Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant

Sofra's Hummus.jpg
I had lunch with fellow foodie, LB, yesterday at Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant. She's a great foodie pal because she's always game to go off the beaten path.

We started off with some Hummus and Turkish Bread. The Hummus here is slightly pinkish unlike what I usually make which is a pale cream colour. I couldn't quite figure out what they added to it but I'm guessing that they added just a little paprika or harissa (middle eastern chili paste) to the mixture. Hummus is a pleasant combination of chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste) and lemon juice mildly spiced with ground coriander and paprika.

The flavour of hummus is slightly salty, tangy and delicately flavoured with the taste of roasted sesame seeds. It goes perfectly with the warm Turkish Bread, which is a nice change from pita (flat bread). We then shared a Sofra Kebap ($13.90), which consists of freshly baked bread stuffed with meat, walnut, eggplant, tomato and cheese. There are 3 options (1) a mixture of beef & lamb, (2) chicken or (3) no meat. We opted for a mixture of beef and lamb as we felt that it would go well with the eggplants, tomato and cheese. We were not disappointed as this dish was a tasty Turkish version of Calzone (Italian covered pizza). We loved how the meat was tender and tasty but did not have a strong lamb taste. LB and I love eggplants, walnuts and cheese so we ate this dish with much relish. The taste of the meat in the tomato-based sauce with eggplants reminded me of the stews that I ate ever so often whilst touring Turkey many years back. The walnuts added a crunch and aroma to the dish. The cheese both bound everything together and imparted a slight creaminess to the dish. This is a MUST-TRY!

We also shared the Chef's Plate ($14.90) which comprises Doner Kebap (chicken kebap and mixture of beef & lamb kebap), Izgara Kofte (grilled flat meatball), a skewer of Shish Kebap (chicken) served with half a loaf of Turkish Bread. By this time, we were starting to feel pretty full. LB enjoyed the chicken kebap better than the mixture of beef & lamb while I liked both. The chicken kebap was nicely charred at some areas which imparted a smoky flavour to the spice-infused tender grilled bits of chicken. The chicken seemed to have a stronger flavour of the spice marinade than the beef & lamb.

The Izgara Koftes were cold by the time we got to them and so didn't taste as good nor have as soft a texture as I'm sure they would have had if they were warm. I find that meatballs (in any form) should always be taken warm else they will harden as they cool and its harder to enjoy the dish. Izgara Koftes are similar to Chelo Kebabs (which accompanies Persian buttered rice) and Shami Kebabs or Chapli Kebabs in that they're made of ground meat.

I'd always had the impression that Kebabs should take the form of skewers of cubed meat as my prior experience was largely that of eating Shish Kebabs (in Egypt) or that they should be huge chunks of meat rotating on a vertical spit, called Doner Kebabs which are available in many major cities (it was a cheap but tasty meal for students on an exchange programme in France). I learnt from Samia while attending lessons at Coriander Leaf's Cooking School that kebabs were also made from ground meat. Apparently they're also known as Koftes or Koftas (depending on the country). Hmm...kinda like how eggplant is also known as aubergines or brinjals depending on which part of the world you're in?

This article was published by AsiaOne Wine, Dine & Unwind on 11 November 2006.