Beşiktaş [buh-shik-tash]. If you're a soccer enthusiast, like T is, the Turkish soccer team comes to mind when speaking about this neighborhood in Istanbul. There is nothing touristy about Beşiktaş and perhaps that is also why it makes this neighborhood charming to get a glimpse of local Istanbullu life. Now when we speak about Beşiktaş, it also conjures up memories of very, very good kaymak (Turkish clotted cream).
The space inside Kaymakçı Pando is tiny and run by the very gentle and elderly Pando and his wife. The bright blue door and the line of people waiting for a table especially on weekends make it easily recognizable. Kaymakçı Pando serves one of the best kaymak and this place has been in business for about 50 years with no change in ownership. A young Turkish fellow ahead of us in line asked how we knew about this place. Oh, from food blogs, we tell him. He responds that people in the online community really like Kaymakçı Pando. We chat in line and upon hearing that T grew up in Singapore, our new acquaintance expresses his desire to be in a student exchange program with Singapore. Traveling to Asia is difficult, he says, and this will be his chance to do it. He recommends us his favorite fish restaurant in Istanbul and writes it down in paper for us. Conversations with locals... always make great memories for us when traveling.
We stand in line and peek through the glass window where Pando's wife constantly scoops a spoonful of kaymak and honey onto each plate as the orders come in from the tables. In between that, she ladles up warm inek sütü [ee-neck su-tu], cow's milk into small drinking glasses. After a quick wait standing in line, Pando comes out to tell us we could get inside to be seated. Of course he says that in Turkish which we could not quite understand but the group of young fellows behind kindly translated that to us in English.
English is barely spoken at Kaymakçı Pando, if at all, but do not let that intimidate you. We learnt some useful words which helped us go quite a long way when ordering food even if it meant that we were not speaking in complete sentences. As long as you can get the point across, that counts, right?
The kaymak is absolutely divine. We smear it and the accompanying honey onto a slice of bread and we're in clotted cream heaven. Not quite as thick as the kaymak at Karaköy Özsüt, but Kaymakçı Pando still makes very, very good and creamy kaymak which I will return to. I'm not sure if I will ever come to a point where I've had enough of kaymak. Who cares about the cold and wet weather outside when we are having a glass of warm inek sütü (cow's milk) and some çay [chai], Turkish tea, inside. Request for the fried eggs to be prepared with sucuk [soo-jook] which is a spicy Turkish sausage. The eggs are crisp on the edges and the thin layer of oil that is flavored from the sausage when cooking enhances the taste of something so simple like fried eggs. Pando may not speak much English but he sure knows how to say "egg" in English. The plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, and cheese is somewhat a refreshing accompaniment.
In as much English as Pando could speak, he comes to our table and says to me, Japan? Ahh, no, Malaysia, I say. Pando turns to his wife and speaks in Turkish "......... Malaysia .............". He returns later and asks us about the food, "Very good?". Yes, they're very good. What an adorable man Pando is.
Koyici Meydani Sokak
From the Beşiktaş fish market (located in a triangular site), walk down the street to left and Kaymakci Pando is around the corner on the left. Spot the bright blue shop with a red awning with white words: Kaymakli Kahvalti Burada. It is located across a kebap restaurant.