Som Tam (Papaya Salad)
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What: Ah, mantı. The Turkish ravioli, for which pockets of dough are stuffed with minced meat (beef or lamb) and boiled, likely traveled to Turkey from China (possibly descended from the Chinese mantau) via nomadic horsemen during the Mongol Empire; as such, versions of this dish exist across Central Asia. Within Turkey itself are several different regional takes, the most famous version—tiny dumplings served with tomato sauce and yogurt—hailing from Kayseri in central Anatolia, near Cappadocia. The type of mantı (“mon-tah”) popular in Sinop is very different: The dumplings are large, with soft, delicate skins, and they’re topped with a generous amount of melted butter, chopped walnuts, and (optional) yogurt. It’s incredibly rich, filling, and wickedly tasty.
Where: It’d be worth popping into Teyzenin Yeri Mantı Salonu (0-368-261-7368; Yeni Mah. Gazi Cad. No. 39) just to watch the female staff make the mantı in the middle of the dining room, a deft process of rolling, slicing, filling, and folding. They make it fresh, by hand, all day long—no wonder it’s one of the more famous spots in town for mantı.
When: Daily, 9am-9pm
Order: Pictured is the karişik mantı (10 TL), which adds yogurt to the plate along with the walnuts and butter; order the cevizli mantı if you want just the latter two toppings (you can still request the yogurt on the side). We loved having it all on one plate—the golden butter pooling in the yogurt dollops on one side; the walnuts on the other, adding the perfect crunchy contrast to the soft, savory pasta—especially since you can still subtract components if, say, there’s too much yogurt for your taste. We found that the creamy yogurt cut the buttery richness a little, letting us eat more…a good thing, to our minds. We also enjoyed the etli ekmek here—but make no mistake: It’s the mantı you come for.
Alternatively: Most restaurants in Sinop will offer this dish, including Sinop Sofrası (0-368-260-5461; Meydan Kapı Mah. Pervane Medresesi, No. 16, map), inside the shop-lined Pervane Medresesi, and Tanyeri Hamam Restaurant (0-368-260-4530; Sakarya Cad. Büyükcami Karşısı, approx. map), which is housed inside an old Turkish bath.
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