What do you get when you combine a police officer and a passion for good food?
Formerly La Lupita, followed by a brief stint at The Basement, Circuar Quay, Atilla Yilmaz is back at the original warehouse-esque location along the busy Canterbury road serving mouthwatering Mediterranean.
You may have stumbled along the lifeless rows of shops along Canterbury Rd before and have completely missed this little gem. I wouldn't be surprised though, the only indication of its existence is a simple sign bearing the words PAZAR and social media icons. But don't be fooled by its simple signage, step inside and it you are instantly transported to a lively Bazaar, Atilla's concept of combining good food and selling exotic produces.
What catches my eyes is the massive black and white image of the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe Festival on one side of the diner.
A quick scan of the venue and I choose to sit at the bar, here you can catch all the action in the kitchen and do a lot of food watching and oh, the fabulous looking wood fired oven churning out fresh pide and flatbreads.
As there were only 2 of us, I had to be sensible when ordering (who am I kidding?!?).
We persued the brief yum cha-esque menu and the specials board and decide to share a few items.
We are told that the menu is no longer just Mexican, like it's previous life, instead, you now get a delicious mix of Turkish with a healthy dose of Middle Eastern and Mexican thrown in. Atilla tells us that his Father was a big inspiration for his cooking, teaching him how to cook up some Turkish classics which he till this day, still makes quite often.
The food arrives promptly and we begin with a garicky smoked eggplant and tahini dip (Hello vampire breath!). The dips come with some fresh Turkish bread which we saw exiting the oven just a few mere minutes ago. (Oh how I love warm fluffy bread!)
Next up was the smoked wood oven roasted lamb. We simply couldn't resist it as we saw plates of it going out to all the other diners! The lamb was so tender and flavoursome, the pickles gave it a great tangy contrast. Atilla later tells us that the lamb is first smoked and roasted over water to retain moisture, the juices from the cooking is then lathered over the lamb itself and the durum bread. No wonder it was so scrumptious!
As always, I over-order and we were stuffed to the brim. That however didn't stop me from ordering a pide (because one can never have enough bread).
I quickly persued the menu again and the words sucuk and haloumi caught my immediately, I guess it was made to be that I ordered the sucuk haloumi pide.
To say this was delicious would be an understatement. I've had my fair share of pide back in my uni days, but these freshly made pide was nothing like those premade, reheated ones. Asides being piping hot (I burnt my tongue on the first bite), PAZAR uses quality gourmet ingredients. The squeaky salty cheese and sucuk had me swooning, we even fought over the last piece!
Atilla saw my dining buddy toting a massive camera and asked if we would like a tour of the kitchen, seriously, how could I say no? Atilla showed us around the place and his currently small section of goods for sale and told us on weekends he would have group events out the back.
It was a cold night and Atilla treated us to some Turkish tea which was delicious with an aromatic sweet touch. He even bought out the swinging tea tray to show us some tricks!
As always, good times fly by and with our bellies stuffed, we rolled ourselves out, vowing that we will be back for their ever-changing menu. (Psst.. they do special Turkish breakfasts on Saturday mornings!)
If you would like to pay them a visit, make sure you check their opening times, they are opened for dinner Wednesday to Friday and all day Saturday.
Thoughts? Leave me a comment!
Stay warm and keep eating,
All photos in this post are by Michael Zhang of Maikeru Nirvana Photography unless otherwise stated.