People who love food know that truly great cuisine comes from the home. You might be able to go out and find a great shui ju niu rou at a Sichuan restaurant, but it’s a sure thing that someone’s mom back in Chengdu will do it better. As such, we here in Ningbo are quite lucky that we have access to great home-style Turkish food more than 5,000 miles from Istanbul.
Mevlana has held its ground on the Renmin Road side of Laowaitan for two years now. During that time, the restaurant has made a name for itself with its fresh, lovingly-prepared Turkish eats and comfortable at-home ambiance. The rather domestic touch of the restaurant is no surprise considering that Mevlana is a family-owned and operated joint, with the matriarch of the family serving as head chef.
Right from the get-go, it’s quite clear that everything that hits the table has been prepared fresh from scratch. An aroma of fresh baked bread lingers throughout the dining area–always a good sign–and the result is piping hot flat and puff breads served alongside a variety of made-from-scratch dips and sauces. The Greek Salad arrives at the table topped with crisp vegetables and light, fluffy feta cheese.
It’s a good thing that a majority of the starters aren’t quite so filling, as Mevlana’s selection of main courses is rather hearty, whether meat and vegetable dishes. For meat lovers, the Mixed Grill is must-have; with well-seasoned and marinated meats served grilled to perfection. Though the streetside vertical rotisserie isn’t in use anymore adana and döner kebabs are also still very much available and always a solid choice. Pide, which is basically a sort of boat-shaped pita stuffed with a variety of meats, vegetables, cheeses or sauces, is definitely worth a try in one of its many forms on the menu.
There are also an abundance of dessert options if there’s any room left after dinner (hint: there’s always room left for dessert). Mevlana’s rice pudding is quite obviously prepared with the same love and affection as everything else on the menu.
Just as any good host wouldn’t allow a guest to leave their home without having something to drink, it’s probably a good idea to take the staff up on the suggestion a cup of Turkish coffee (think a very strong espresso with very fine grounds at the bottom) or Çay (a reddish Turkish tea). After all, a true Turkish meal isn’t truly complete without it.