Turkish cuisine is one that has no allegiance to any one culture. Rather, it's a hodgepodge of several nations, each as colorful -- and flavorful -- as the last. There's a taste of Greek influence, a touch of African spice, and a hint of Asian all rolled into one.
Like the fare, the cuisine of Turkey also changes from one area to the next, dishes varying from region to region. While the Aegean is known for its lighter use of spice, the Black Sea prefers fish, while the cuisine of the southeast is famous for its focus on meat, kebabs and mezes.
Its this very same variety that has no doubt helped Hollywood's A La Turca survive all these years. A long-standing establishment which opened in the heart of the city's downtown off Hollywood Blvd. in 2005, A La Turca recently relocated to a new building just one block south on Harrison Street.
A La Turca owner and executive chef Ugar Unal told Clean Plate Charlie he was interested in expanding his original location to a neighboring space, but instead relocated entirely. The new 3,700-square-foot space can now seat up to 150, allowing for larger parties and private events. It also called for an updated look, complete with new booth and table seating, a handsome stone wall, and a bar currently offering beer and wine.
The menu, although largely the same, has evolved to include more familiar American and European dishes alongside traditional Turkish fare. That includes filet mignon and salmon, to name a few.
The signature house dishes remain the same, however, each fashioned after traditional Turkish meals and prepared with the same attention to detail found in the homeland. Many ingredients are also sourced directly from Turkey, said Unal, including spices, fish, yogurt and a flavorful, sweet olive oil.
The menu opens with a selection of hot and cold meze, or starter plates. Similar to tapas, they can be shared and sampled between a couple or larger parties ($6-$12). The hummus and cacik, a yogurt and cucumber dipping sauce, which are both made with a specialty imported olive oil that is sweet and flavorful and served with freshly baked pita
bread made in-house twice daily.
For a main course several large plates focus on meat and fish ($19-$25). The house specialty includes any dish featuring doner -- the rotisserie-style meat most commonly referred to as shawarma in the Arab nations, or gyro across the Mediterranean region. Equal parts lamb and beef, it is prepared in-house daily at A La Turca, shaved fresh to-order for dishes like the Iskender kebab, thin slices of doner served over fresh-baked pita bread with fresh tomato sauce and yogurt.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.