Is there anything tastier than a nice plate of pad thai? I contend that there is not much. But, at risk of continuing to flog a long-dead stallion, Istanbul is not exactly the easiest place to find many regional cuisines, and Thai food is no exception to this dire rule. Over the years, I’d ordered and immensely regretted pad thai at a few joints here that shall go unnamded. So, it was with some trepidation and yet enduring hope that I ordered the dish at the SushiCo near my office.
First, a note about Asian cuisine in Istanbul. As is common throughout parts of Europe, disparate Asian food cultures are commonly amalgamated together in restaurants. Here in Turkey, you will almost never see a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t serve sushi as well, and vice versa. Korean, oddly enough, doesn’t get clumped together with sushi, which actually kind of ignores important parts of Korean cuisine, such as hweh and gimbap. Thus, when I got a craving for some Thai food, I went to a restaurant called SushiCo. Go figure.
SushiCo in the Altunizade neighborhood of Istanbul’s Üsküdar district is a medium-sized, clean, somewhat sparse restaurant, the kind of place that you might have weekday lunch in any Western city. The prices, not unexpectedly, edged towards the stratospheric. The pad thai was 29tl, and my obligatory Coke Zero was, jaw-droppingly, 8tl. Jeez, this isn’t a night club, people. Still, it would be a small price to pay for a decent pad thai.
The dish arrived, well plated, with red chili flakes and crushed peanuts on the side. They didn’t have Thai-style chopsticks, just the typical wooden fast food ones. The smell was intoxicating, conjuring up memories of meals with friends in Bangkok and Ko Samui. I sprinkled the peanuts over the dish and added just a touch of the chili and a squeeze of the lemon wedge (I know, not lime, but you can’t have everything). อร่อย!
It was seriously one of the best things I’ve tasted since starting this blog months ago. It might not pass muster on Sukhumvit 38, but this pad thai is easily one of the better ones I’ve had outside of Thailand. The noodles were fried just right, the tofu and bean sprouts and everything else in good proportion, though it could have had a bit more of the chicken I’d ordered. And maybe a tad more fish sauce. But as far as my tongue was concerned, SushiCo had made a very acceptable version of the classic dish.
SushiCo can be found all around Istanbul. The one in Altunizade is on Mahir Iz Cad. just down the street from Capitol AVM. There’s a map on the previous link.