Somer Sivrioglu wants to change Sydney’s idea of what Turkish food is. Tomorrow, the Efendy head chef and owner will open Anason, a vegetable, seafood and meze-driven Turkish bar at Barangaroo. “Everyone thinks Turkish food is all about kebabs and pides, but when you go to Turkey, from the street food to the fine dining, there are a lot of other elements,” he says.
He’s calling it a modern meyhane, a traditional Turkish bar or restaurant. Like Ibrahim Kasif’s Stanbuli it’s a classic eatery concept recently reclaimed by young, experimental chefs, particularly in Istanbul. To bring that culture to Sydney, Sivrioglu, like a culinary godfather, has asked four young, ambitious chefs to join and show off their ideas and cuisine. “It's quite a collaborative menu. It has a signature from all four of us.”
Murat Buvan, who’s just come from Melbourne’s Attica, brings tarhana (a fermented and dried mix of yoghurt, cracked wheat and vegetables)-encrusted bonito interspersed with red onion, sumac and radish salad. The pumpkin hummus with crunchy chickpeas, and the beetroot salad with spheres of melon and bulgur, comes from Ozge Donmezoglu. “The Australian consular general in Turkey told me, You need to come and speak to this girl, she is very talented’,” says Sivrioglu. “She was running a small, beautiful restaurant in Istanbul. It reminds me of Anason.”
Inal Erdener, former chef at Istanbul’s renowned Alancha, is the mind behind Anason’s Turkish bao bun. Inside there’s smoked veal tongue, house-made pickles and muhammara, a harissa-like chili paste. “It's very Turkish in flavour, but you have this bao bun that has nothing to do with Turkey,” says Sivrioglu. “Together, it just works. That's something quite brilliant.”
Sivrioglu will say he’s just an advisor, the gelling agent for the other chefs, but his touches are also on the menu, in Armenian-style stuffed mussels and the restaurant’s centrepiece, the custom-built simit oven. Simit is a ring-shaped, sesame-sprinkled bread that’s ubiquitous across Turkey. Just like you’d find it overseas, Anason serves it take away with Turkish coffee (specially made from Ministry of Coffee with Yemeni beans) and tea from a simit cart the team has imported from Turkey.
The coffee and cart are just one example of the effort Sivrioglu and his team have put into expanding the identity of Turkish food in Sydney. They’re also making their own sausages and importing boutique Turkish craft beers and Turkish wines. They’ve worked with acclaimed designer George Livissianis Cho Cho San, Longrain, Billy Kwong on a simple, vivid and open-air design that reflects meyhane culture and Sydney’s iconic waterfront.
Shop 5/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
(02) 9188 1581
Mon to Sat 11.30am–3pm, 5pm–10pm