Turkish delight, chef Coskun Uysal.
A Turkish love story
Food from the heart at Tulum, Melbourne
Words: Damien Woolnough
22th May 2018
We all know Turkish Delight is syrupy and sweet, but at his restaurant Tulum, chef Coskun Uysal shows that exquisite pleasure is something far more complex. Or to put it bluntly, "Our message about Turkish cuisine is that we don’t just eat kebabs and dips every single day," Uysal says.
Uysal, has permission to be blunt with an innocent smile that betrays years of working in top kitchens such as The River Café in London, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Melbourne’s Attica. In 2016 he created Tulum in the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava, an outpost of Instanbul flavours that takes diners on a sensory journey around Turkey.
"Turkey has seven regions, we have already journeyed through the Aegean and Mediterranean regions and in three months’ time we will look at the cuisine of Eastern Anatolia which borders Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Georgia – these regions impact strongly on the cuisine. This has not been done before in Australia."
Until August the kitchen at Tulum (it's named after a cheese not Mexico’s spring break destination) is dedicated to the flavours of South Eastern Anatolia. The tasting menu lures you in with the aroma of hearty Anali Kizli (lamb and bulgar meatballs), Ahtapot (octopus with capsicum puree) and Sekerpere (almond pastry with a hazelnut mousse and Turkish black tea ice cream).
Uysal has created a sophisticated space to match a menu delivering Turkish attitude without a trace of kitsch, making it perfect for an anniversary,or for date night, when you need a break from Netflix and chill.
These spices make for a very sensual dining experience.
Lamb neck with warm Tulum cheese, sucuk & puffed freekeh, smoked date & Jerusalem artichoke.
Uysal knows the ingredients of a long-lasting relationship. His most memorable meal was 15 years ago with his partner Peter in the town of Sile on Turkey's Black Sea coast.
"We had the most romantic dinner in a small, causal village style restaurant right on the water. Simple grilled fish, fresh village salad with house made cheese and great Turkish wines with someone you love…"
Uysal's parents remain his own relationship role models. "I learned from watching my mother and father over their long marriage," he says. "Lessons like respecting each other on good and bad days and supporting each other. It was my dream to have the same relationship and I'm lucky to have that with my partner of 15 years."
Expect to make a similar commitment to Tulum, with Uysal's cooking winning over stomachs and critics' awards as well as an attitude that provokes loyalty.
"Consideration, politeness, respect and courtesy are very important for me and for Turks," he says. "We welcome our guests at the door and when leaving we open the door and shake hands to say good night and that we wish to see them again."
Tulum, 217 Carlisle St, Balaclava. (03) 9525 9127.
Start with a glass of Larmandier-Bernier Champagne.