Nick's Picks: As Evi Turkish Cuisine

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Photo by Nicholas Abreu

Like many ethnic groups in Rochester, Turkish Americans can trace their Western New York roots to the Hickey Freeman suit company. In 1966, the New York Times published an article in which Hickey Freeman founder, Walt Hickey Sr., explained that his workforce was suffering because young Americans had no desire to learn tailoring skills. The article made its way to Turkey, and before long, Turkish tailors eager for work trickled into Rochester throughout the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Turkish immigration continued in the following decades as friends, family, and neighbors of tailors also made the move. Now, Rochester is home to about 4,000 Turkish Americans.

A handful of Rochester restaurants serve the country’s unique, powerful flavors.

As is the case with any cuisine, traditional Turkish cooking is a product of the country’s available ingredients. In Turkey’s case, this means lamb, beef, fish, rice, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lentils, and nuts. For those unfamiliar with Turkish fare, a better-known culinary reference point is authentic Greek food.

At 315 East Ridge Road, As Evi Turkish Cuisine and Halal Restaurant lets traditional flavors shine in the country’s staple dishes. Located within a cookie-cutter retail plaza, As Evi is owned by Selami Tulum, who emigrated from Turkey about six-and-a-half years ago and works the restaurant with his family. Paintings of the Turkish countryside and other decorative odes to Turkey adorn As Evi’s very casual and cozy dining room. Some of the highlights from the menu include karisik pidea crispy, crunchy, boat-shaped dough crust filled with Turkish pastrami, sausage, ground beef, and cheese; kofteground beef pressed into patties with parsley and onions, slightly charred, and plated with rice pilaf, tomato, pickled cucumber, and cabbage; and beyti kebabground beef flavored with garlic, grilled on a skewer and wrapped in a soft, delicate, unleavened bread; topped with rich, smoky tomato sauce; and served next to a light, refreshing yogurt.

While it hasn’t yet experienced widespread popularity in this area, Turkish cuisine, with its intense flavors and irresistible staple dishes, has potential for a major expansion into Rochester’s culinary scene.

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