MELBOURNE | Yakamoz is the new restaurant from father and son duo Ali and Ogulcan Atay. It’s the sister restaurant to Halikarnas across the road. I was invited in by Ali to check out the new space, which goes beyond the traditional Turkish focus of the former, with a wider, contemporary Mediterranean and Aegean remit.
Istanbul born and raised head chef Cagri Ergin grew up with a passion for cooking and a love for the flavours of the Mediterranean and Anatolia. At Yakamoz, he’s putting a contemporary spin on traditional dishes, using experience honed working in several of Turkey’s top restaurants.
A highlight is meat, seafood, and vegetables cooked in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. It’s food that’s designed to share, broadly split into small dishes, pide, and large plates. Pide are a must order, with a thing, crispy charred base and generous fillings like spinach, parsley, dill, and kasar cheese; mushroom, onion, and green peppers; and minced beef, tomato, onion, and peppers.
For small plates, it’s things like dips with Turkish flatbread; crispy manti (dumplings), stuffed with spiced mince and herbs, labneh, chilli butter, and walnuts; and bulgur köfte (meatballs), with cucumber labneh, chilli oil, and almonds.
Moving onto large plates, you have to try the six hour slow cooked beef rib with roast potato mash, shallots, and beef jus. The meat is super tender and falls apart with succulent melt in your mouth fat.
For dessert, the soğuk (cold) baklava is something you rarely see, if ever, in Melbourne. It was created around four years ago in the town of Diyarbakir, close to the Syrian border, and has become popular throughout Turkey.
It’s made using traditional baklava dough mixed with milk, pistachios, and butter. Once baked, it’s allowed to cool before being topped milk. It’s then refrigerated. It’s served cold, sprinkled with a generous amount of cocoa powder and milk powder. The result is something that’s less crispy than traditional baklava, lighter, much less sweet, and healthier.
If you’re thirsty, there’s Turkish beer, and a small selection of wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic Turkish drinks.
74 Lygon Street
Wed – Mon: 5:30pm to 11:30pm