Nestled in a side street of the area of Kumkapı, better known for its line of fish restaurants with persistent hawkers standing outside trying to entice you in, Doyuran is an esnaf lokantası(tradesman’s restaurant) of the highest order. Esnaf restaurants can be hit or miss – the principle governing them is food that has a homemade feel – “just like mother makes it”, cheap and not too fancy.
Almost all esnafs are cheap, some skimp on quality and have more of a soup kitchen feel. Doyuran is a good example of one where the food really is as good as homemade, avoiding the heavy, oily food which plague the offending restaurants in this category. The menu changes daily but expect to find warm, moist pilav, dishes involving chickpea, spinach, eggplant and beans, with fresh salad, servings of yogurt and a decent selection of Turkish desserts. Above all, you won’t be bullied in here, unlike a stressful walk down the line of fish restaurants near by.
A Salute to Istanbul's Tradesmen (Esnaf) Restaurants (Lokantaları); by Vildan Yahni