Dinner with romantic lights at 1BHK, oshiwara

I have been to 1BHK before for breakfast ( a separate review for that ) and New Years as well but it wasn’t until recently I tried the food here so let’s get on with the experience.

AMBIENCE :

Tucked away in the corner of Oshiwara it might be difficult at first to locate the place but once you find it, you will be pleasantly surprised. The restaurant has a romantic and festive feel to it with pretty lights all over. It has a indoor as well as outdoor seating area with a projector screen on display in the outdoor area. The indoor area spells prettiness all over with its cute interiors and vibrant furniture. The also have a separate dining area for a group if you want a bit of privacy.

FOOD :

For starters we had prawns chill pil. The prawns are tossed in butter garlic sauce and served with steamed bao. Dipped in sauce, the prawns were perfectly cooked oozing the delicious butter. The bao was soft and went well with the dish.

Next up was House grilled fish served with veggies, shrimps and Casper sauce. This dish was the star of the evening. The flavor, sauce and dressing was made to perfection. The fish was moist with the veggies grilled just enough for them to still have their crunch. Served with quinoa on top and Casper sauce the dish was complete. The fish alone stood out with the shrimps fading in the background. It could totally do without the shrimps.

Salli chicken is a Parsi dish which is a thick semi dry chicken gravy with Salli potatoes sprinkled on top. You can have this with either brown onion pulav or pao. We had this with buttered pao but I wish we tried the pulav instead since I think the rice would enhance the flavours more.

For dessert we had No bake cheesecake with cherries. It was a simple dark chocolate mouse with a layer of biscuit crumbs on the base with half cut cherries on top. Simple yet filling.

Service

The service was quite quick to my surprise inspite of lot of tables being occupied. Staff was attentive and friendly.

Overall it a nice experience and would love to try some more of their dishes soon.

Traveling with toddlers

We decided to celebrate my younger daughter Aizah’s first birthday with a trip to Istanbul and though it was exciting to finally have our first trip together as a family it also gave me tremendous anxiety thinking about traveling with two kids ( a 3yr old and 1yr old). I have been on flights with my elder one but those were short one hour long flights so this was relatively longer and plus we had two connecting flights Mumbai to Dubai with a 5hour layover and then to istanbul. After hours of planning, organizing and tons of packing we started our journey.

Here are the few things which helped me through which can be useful to you.

• Let the kids play as much as they want to on the airport before boarding the flight as it means they might be all tired and exhausted from running around and will go to sleep through the flight.

• Keep them hydrated through out as long flights tend to dehydrate us.

• Don’t fuss on eating a proper meal. I think we (usually mothers )🤷🏼‍♀️ emphasize a lot on kids finishing their meals which can be a difficult task during the flight, instead carry their favorite snacks with you so if they do not like the food served on the plane they have something to munch on.

• Also, carry some some of the Toys or their crayons or books to keep them entertained because inflight entertainment hardly helps.

• If it’s his /her first time in a flight it will difficult for the baby to understand why is she being held or stopped from walking around so let them roam a bit between aisles.

• They might (or definitely will ) throw tantrums, demand for things which they usually don’t do at home or other places and the best way to calm them down that time would be to give in. not what you want to listen but it’s no time to discipline when the entire flight is watching over you

• If you are still breastfeeding the baby like I was don’t be shy doing so during the flight, it’s completely okay to give in as much as the baby demands. (it might even help with ear pain during take off and landings)

• We checked into emirates business class lounge for our layover and I would highly recommend you to do that (or any other lounge on your airport ) since it has a family area, playing room for kids and even quite areas for the baby to sleep in.

• I would also suggest you to buy a ticket for your toddler if you can afford it because the baby bassinet provided can hardly carry a baby older than 8-9 months and it can get tiresome to keep your toddler on your lap the entire time.

Now you would wonder was my journey perfect and smooth sailing , quite far from it to be honest but doing these little things definitely made it easier for me and my family. Finally don’t panic it’s only a matter of few hours for your destination and even if it gets difficult don’t worry you will survive, all of us do 😊.

TOP 5 THINGS TO EAT IN ISTANBUL

1. Take a bite of the delicious SIMIT.

Turkish people are famous for their breads and what could be better than a Simit ( a Turkish bagel) which is round in shape and has sesame seeds on top to give the perfect crunch. You can have this with chocolate or any other filling (I prefer the classic plain one) with hot Turkish tea or coffee. You also get cinnamon rolls, churros , roasted chestnuts and boiled corn on the streets. This is easily available everywhere or you could buy them the Simit sarayi shops. It tastes exactly same, the only difference being simit sarayi could toast the simit for you to make it extra crunchy. Cost of simit here is 5lira while on the street it is 1.5lira.

2. Have Turkish Tea/ Coffee

Tea is an integral part Turkish cuisine and rightly so. No meal is complete till the time you’ve had a sip of your tea. It is served in those small cute tulip shaped glasses and even though I am not much of a tea/coffee person I came back being addicted to Turkish tea. It comes in different flavors such as apple, pomegranate, ginger with apple being my favorite. You could have this with or without sugar depending on your taste. This can be the perfect thing for you to take back home for your friends and family

3. Dine at Nusr-Et Sandal Bedesteni

If you are a steak lover you cannot miss this place. It is owned by the renowned Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe also popularly known as the iconic salt bae. The ambiance is cool and the staff is friendly and attentive. From juicy burgers to steaks this place will satisfy all your taste buds. The restaurant has various branches across the city so choose one nearest to your place. The place is always full so make sure you have reservation before coming in avoid waiting in long queues. Some may find it a bit over priced but it’s worth the experience and don’t forget to order baklava with ice cream which is the BOMB !!! If you want a detailed review of the restaurant check here

4. Have a taste of ottoman cuisine.

Gözleme/flatbread
Meat platter

They say the best way to experience culture is through their food. The rich Turkish culture reflects well in their cuisine through their various kebabs, grills and more. Although It has more of meat based dishes there are options for vegetarians as well. Every locality has their own signature dish. The sultana-met area has their famous köftesi (grilled meat balls). You will see Turkish women in shops making traditional gözleme (Turkish flatbread) in front of you on open stove to serve It hot. This gözleme can be filled with cheese, meat , spinach or any filling of your choice. Then there are Turkish pidde (pizza) Donner kebabs (shredded meat ) in a roll and if you are a in a mood for some delicious meat then order a mixed grilled platter which serves a variety of kebabs, meat balls and lamb chops.

5. Turkish delight and dessert at Hafeez Mustafa.

Kunefeh

Hafeez Mustafa is a famous pastry shop in Istanbul which has been around for 150 years. It is famous for its dessert and lives up to all the hype around it . The two most well known Turkish desserts are baklava and kanafeh. Baklava is a Turkish pastry filled with pistachios. You either try a whole baklava platter with different variations or the classic pistachio one. Kanafeh is a thin semolina pastry filled with either cream or cheese and best eaten when it is served hot. They also serve various other desserts from milk pudding to baked chicken breast pudding (yes u heard it right). During rush hours there might be a long queue of people waiting to just sit inside and have their favorite dessert with tea. You will always see people rushing in and out of the shop to take their favorite dessert in boxes back home. Your trip to istanbul might be just be incomplete without having a bite so don’t miss them.

Have you visited Istanbul? What was the best thing you has there ?

Nusr-Et Steakhouse

Nusr-et al is a Turkish steakhouse owned by the renowned Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe also popularly known as the iconic salt bae having several restaurants around the world with New York, Dubai, Miami to name a few.

We visited the place on our recent trip to Istanbul. The restaurant has a cool vibe. Since the tables are always occupied expect the place to be bustling with people. The first floor has an open kitchen with the interiors modern as well displaying a bit of Turkish culture with wooden furniture.

Now lets come to the food. For starters we had beef burgers. It has to be one of the best burgers I have ever had and I have had quite a few. It is juicy, filled with meat, melting cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. The burger is grilled to make the bun warm and give you a bit of crisp. It is cut into 2 pieces so that things don’t get messy while you enjoy your burger. Served with fries.

Next up was the lamp chops. I am usually a little weary of trying lamb chops outside because my mom makes some amazing chops so it has always been a childhood favorite and not many can live up to my high expectations of it but this one did a good job at it. It was moist yet not too chewy and good on the taste as well.

You cannot come to a steak house and not try their steaks. Here, we ordered a Dallas steak. It was a tender piece of meat with t bone served with roasted potatoes and spinach onion salad on the side. We asked for medium rare, it was browned well enough without being overcooked, as well as good flavor, succulent and delicious.

We were actually going to skip having dessert here since I wanted to have it from a dessert Parlour but my cousin messaged me saying don’t miss their baklava with ice cream it’s the BOMB, so we did try and it was indeed THE BOMB !! Since baklava is the traditional dessert of the Turkish cuisine it is served almost everywhere in the city but this was by far the best amongst them. Even better than few of the dessert Cafés. Vanilla ice cream is sandwiched between the pistachio pastry breaking the intense flavor with vanilla sweetness. The waiter will make the pastry on the your table with a little theatrics by mixing the ice cream and cutting the baklava in front of you for entertainment purposes. A must have here I would say.

The restaurant has various branches across the city so choose one nearest to your place. The place is always full so make sure you have a reservation before coming in to avoid waiting in long queues. We went to the one inside the grand bazaar near Sultanahmet area. Some may find the price to be on the higher side but i guess it’s worth the experience.

Nusr-Et Steakhouse Sandal Bedesteni Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

TOP 5 PLACES TO SEE IN ISTANBUL.

1. Learn history at Blue mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi palace museum.

You cannot come to Istanbul and not see these heritage sites. It reflects the rich ottoman architecture of Istanbul. Blue mosque is an ancient mosque built in 1600s and still continues to function as a mosque till this date where people offer prayers five times. Hagia Sophia, is a former Christian church which was later announced as imperial ottoman mosque now stands a museum. Topkapi museum is a former palace which served as the main residence and administrative headquarters for the ottoman sultans before they moved to Dolmabahçe palace. All these three sites are within 100meters of each other and can be visited on the same day if you start your day early however all three are closed on different days so it would be good choose a day for your sightseeing when all three are open to public. While blue mosque is open every day, Topkapi museum is closed on Tuesdays and Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays so it would be ideal to choose a day other than these. Cost of ticket for Hagia Sophia is 60tl and Topkapi museum are 40tl pp while blue mosque entrance is free, women are required to cover their heads and dress appropriately while entering the mosque.

Blue mosque

2. Scenic view from the top of Galata tower

Galata tower is an ancient tower located in the by lanes of karaköy area. It’s a nine storey tower and you may have to walk a bit to reach the the base of the tower but the view on the top totally makes it worthwhile. The elevator takes you to three floors down the deck from where you have to take the stairs to reach the deck. This floor also has a photo booth where you can get yourself clicked wearing traditional Turkish costumes. The observatory deck has a 360 degree view from where you can see the Bosphorus bridge. The towers also has a simulation helicopter ride to give you 3D view of all the historical places in the city and if all that scenic view makes you hungry there are two restaurants, one on the deck and one below for you to enjoy a meal with a view. The cost for the tower is 25tl pp along with 10tl for simulation ride. Since we had a toddler with us we were not allowed for the simulation but you could totally give it a try.

3. Visit Taksim Square

Historically Taksim Square was inaugurated to celebrate the fifth anniversary of republic of turkey after years of war. Today it stands as the heart of modern day istanbul. You could say this is the downtown of Istanbul with young crowd wandering on the streets. The cool and vibrant vibe can immediately lift up your spirits with various artists showing their talent on the streets as you stroll along. Its bustling with restaurants, nightclubs and shopping mall. It has several chain of international restaurants like McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut etc as well local vendors selling Donner kebabs, shawarma. The street leads up to Istiklal Street which is known as the food street of Istanbul. Taksim also has the nostalgic red and white heritage tram to give you a tour of the istiklal street. So hop on the tram to enjoy the ride.

Taksim square

4. Shop at Grand bazaar

Grand bazaar literally translates as grand/ big market. It is one of the oldest markets in Istanbul and has everything under one roof. It’s a covered market place and bustling with people which can make you a bit claustrophobic if visiting during peak hours. If you are looking to take some souvenirs back home for your family and friends then this is the place. You can buy various local artifacts and souvenirs along with spices, dry fruits ( sweetened and unsweetened ), Turkish chocolates and tea. The bazaar is huge and divided into different sections. The leather section has leather jackets, shoes, belts and bags. There’s a variety of Turkish cutlery with beautiful designs and silver jewelry for both men and women. Make sure you bargain and visit 2-3shops before buying anything because the prices might differ everywhere and people can give counter offers. The market is open from 9am to 7pm and closed for Friday prayers. The best time to visit would be early in morning before the crowd gathers.

5. Take a Bosporus boat tour/ ride.

Istanbul is an island city and boats are used as mode of local transport. You can see a lot of yachts, boats used for tourist purposes. A boat tour gives you a glimpse of the magnificent bosphorus bridge that connects the Asian and European sides of turkey. You could take a whole day long cruise which halts at various tourist spots or short boat tour for a closer view of the bridge. These boats are equipped with food , entertainment and other recreational activities. Depending on what experiences you want and the time on your schedule you can book a tour. The bridge is beautifully lit up by the night. It’s an experience you do not want to miss.

Bosphorus bridge

Travel by tram

Now this is not a must do thing but it’s such a cheaper and convenient mode of traveling in Istanbul given its connectivity and easy access. I would totally suggest you to ditch the cab (if you don’t like being stuck in traffic ) and take the tram since it can take you to every possible destination in the city. All you have to do is make a metro card which will cost around 10 lira and keep filling it whenever required. This metro card can be used in tram, busses and metro as well and when you are returning home you can deposit this card and get a refund of 5lira so in all this card would only cost you 5lira which I think is quite reasonable.

Where to live in Istanbul : Sultanahmet vs Taksim

This is the first question that will come to your mind if you are thinking of visiting Istanbul. Istanbul Is the only city in the world which is connected to both Europe and Asia. The bosphorus bridge divides the city namely into Its asian and European sides. In a city as beautiful as Istanbul with such vast cultural and geographical diversity it can be difficult to choose one place to stay however let me give you some insight from my personal experience.

We visited Istanbul In March and since we were traveling with two young kids (a 3yr old and a toddler) we decided to not explore others parts of turkey leaving a whole 10 days trip only for istanbul. We were looking for a place touristy enough to have good places around to eat, explore but also wanted to keep the traveling time within the city as minimum as possible to avoid the crazy istanbul traffic and to keep the children from driving us insane during traffic time (kinda obvious). We zeroed down on two of the most well known and tourist friendly places In Istanbul which were Sultanahmet and taksim. Ironically these two places are also quite different from each other in terms of the vibe and the entire scene and nonetheless both are equally good on their own.

Taksim

Taksim is known as the heart of modern Istanbul. More like the downtown of Istanbul, it is a major cultural hub for the young crowd. you can call it as the “IT” place of Istanbul with various restaurants and pubs nearby with a vibrant night life. The streets are always buzzing with people. Lined with numerous restaurants on the Istiklal street (a.k.a food street of Istanbul) you will never be hungry on this side of Istanbul. owing to its modern and young vibe It also has several international chain of restaurants ( Starbucks , McDonald’s , KFC to name a few) along with some high street clothing brands. The historic taksim square is just around the corner with the famous red tram for all your insta worthy pictures. It also has a number of hotels within walking distance of taksim square. Adjacent to the taksim square is the underground tram station if you wish to go sightseeing from this part of the city.

Red tram at taksim

Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet is known as the old town of istanbul. If quaint architecture and historical buildings interest you then this is your place to be. It has some amazing restaurants serving ottoman cuisine. You will find many shops selling souvenirs, spices and Turkish crockery. If taksim has your modern young vibe then Sultanahmet is all old world charm depicting the colorful istanbul culture. One serious advantage Sultanahmet has over taksim is it’s close proximity to all the major historic places such as Sultan Ahmed mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi museum. Even places like Galata Tower, spice market and grand bazaar are on the Sultanahmet side of the bridge which means if you are staying near taksim you will have to cross the bridge every day via cab or take multiple routes if traveling by tram.

So at the end I would say where you want to stay depends on your plans and itinerary for the trip. If you are traveling with family including kids and want to keep your commute time minimum or want to save your cab fare and soak up all the rich culture I would suggest you consider Sultanahmet or if bar hopping and enjoying the nightlife is your scene then taksim would be ideal for you.

For us, we stayed at double tree by Hilton in Sultanahmet and honestly it was quite convenient and comfortable for us there. With metro and tram stations at just walking distance from our hotel we never had to bother with cab fares and traffic.

Have you visited Istanbul ? If yes do let me know where did you stay and how was your experience.

The Journey Begins

Hey there , I am Fatima Ansari living in Mumbai, India starting out in this blogging world. To give you little in the background I’m a stay at home mom with two beautiful kids. you would wonder who writes a blog in this age of influencers and vloggers (nothing against them really, it’s pure hard-work) well that’s me. Firstly because I am old school that way and secondly I am too camera conscious to be in front of camera all the time but there’s one thing I can do, is write (or I think I can let’s see how that goes ). When I thought about what my blog is going to be about, like everything else In life I didn’t have a definite answer but that’s also because i am passionate about so many different things be it skincare, travel or good food. So here, I am going to write about all of the above, my favorite beauty/skincare products, travels , the places I eat, my life and everything in between.

BEAUTY/SKINCARE

FOOD

TRAVEL

LIFESTYLE

First up coming on the blog will be about my family trip to istanbul, where we stayed, things to do in the city, traveling with kids and stuff. There on it will be weekly post regarding beauty/skincare products I love/hate , food reviews of the new restaurants I visit, motherhood and general life in between.

This is going be to be a weekly blog where I am going to post every Monday, it might sound too less or spaced out but that’s what I can manage right now with two young kids without compromising on the content.

So yeah that’s AsmaFatima for you. Let’s begin this new journey. Oh yeah that’s me, come and say hi 👋