Ezel Akay

Appears in
Istanbul Cult Recipes

By Pomme Larmoyer

Published 2015

  • About

Restaurateur and film director, Agora Meyhanesi 1890 (Balat)

In 2014 Ezel Akay opened Agora Meyhanese 1890 in a building that had housed an old meyhane (tavern) dating from 1890. That tavern had closed in the early 2000s, and the new name reflects the establishment’s beginnings. Ezel did this to restore the heartbeat of Balat, the old Jewish quarter, with its lively working class, and also to continue the culture of the meyhane, with its Greek and Armenian dishes and the ‘raki table’. People go to Ezel’s place to talk and to share dishes among friends. You have a taste of everything, drink slowly, one more glass, one more meze, and it goes on and on, and you feel good. ‘And at the end, we’re all one big family!’ In his other life, Ezel is a film director. He has travelled a lot and describes himself as ‘from nowhere and therefore from everywhere.’ He sees cooking in the same way as he shoots his films: ‘It’s like telling a story. The ingredients become words. Put together, they become stories. It’s good to tell stories.’ And you keep listening – and have another glass of raki.