For a city of 15 (?) million or so people, there’s not a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Istanbul. So it was nice to discover Parsifal which is not far from Taksim Square and is on a street parallel to Istiklal Caddesi (or find them on Facebook). Parsifal is great, not simply because it’s vegetarian, but the food is actually really good. Vegan options are clearly marked and prices are reasonable.
I’ve been to this restaurant a few times, a couple of times by myself and a few times with Mr T (Mr Turk). It was funny when I went back with Mr T after about a year and the guy at the restaurant remembered us and was shocked we were still together, such must be the nature of most Turk/foreigner relationships, or maybe he just got a bad vibe from us LOL.
When you get there they give you this really yummy warm homemade bread with a herbed oil to dip it in. Did I mention that dipping bread in oil is one of my all time favourite activities? Well it is, so this restaurant is off to a good start in my books.
Then there is dolma (stuffed chard leaves). Now my personal preference is for dolma to be oily, lemony and salty, you know where you cringe a little when you eat it from the combination of salty and sour *drool*, but I think that must be more the Lebanese version because most of the dolma I’ve eaten in Turkey isn’t like this and is a little more ‘reserved’ in flavour, but delicious nonetheless. The dolma at Parsifal is served with a tasty tomato salsa which gives it a nice lift.
I’m one of those vegans who isn’t vegan for health reasons, I’m vegan purely because I love animals. I am what other vegans would refer to as a ‘mock meat vegan’. I think the hardest thing about being in Turkey is not being able to get my mock meat fix (okay maybe the hardest thing is the cultural differences, but that’s another story altogether). So anyway you can imagine my delight when I saw a dish on the menu called ‘soya burger’. I imagined a soy meat patty of some sort in a bun, you know, like a burger. I was just planning on ditching the bread and salad bits and going to town on the soy meat patty. Well this isn’t a burger in the traditional form. It’s crumbed, fried potato patties stuffed with soy mince served with salad on the side. Different and not quite as filling as a normal burger might be, but it would work well as an entree. Although my craving for soy meat wasn’t totally satisfied, this was still a good dish.
My favourite dish that I’ve eaten at Parsifal is the vegetable grill plate, which is skewers of barbequed vegetables with a light tomato sauce served with grilled potatoes, rice and a salad garnish. My favourite vegetable on the skewer is definitely the oyster mushroom and I could easily eat 10 skewers of just those! Although I’ve eaten this dish a couple of times I’ve never managed to take a photo of it because I’ve been too busy shovelling the contents of the plate into my salivating mouth.
The only criticism I have of Parsifal is that they don’t have any vegan deserts on the menu. Now it’s besides the point that I’m usually too full to eat desert anyway and often don’t like sweet stuff, but it would just be nice to have that option.
If you’re in Istanbul, be sure to check out Parsifal. Even if you’re of the meat-eating type, you’re arteries will need a break from all those kebabs at some point.