CONTRIBUTED BY MELISSA RUISZ

Istanbul Front
Istanbul Front

Istanbul Kebab House in Sunabe has a cozy, earthy vibe, as if you were invited to your Turkish friend’s large college dorm room. Red paisley fabric covers 7 or so tables, and offsets the royal blue and white walls, decorated with an eclectic mix of colorful ornate plates and small rugs (some for sale), figurines, children’s art, photographs, and old beer posters. And hookahs. Lots of hookahs.

Istanbul Interior
Istanbul Interior

The dinner menu offers several entrées of kebab, or meat, plus vegetarian options, like eggplant, and they range from ¥1000 to ¥1300. For ¥1500, you can get the dinner set, which includes a choice of their 8 kebab entrées, plus soup and one soft drink or tea.  I tried the set with Entrée #2, or Iskender, a small plate of gyro meat on top of small pieces of soft white bread, then smothered in a tomato sauce, and a second Thousand Island-looking sauce drizzled on top. It also came with a side of mild yogurt, which I thought would be to counterbalance the spiciness of the meat, but the meat wasn’t spicy at all, just full of flavor.

Istanbul Kuzu Kavurma
Istanbul Kuzu Kavurma

On the other hand, my husband ordered the dinner set with Entrée #8, Kuzu Kavurma, a plate of lamb with peppers, spices, and a side of white rice. His dish was a bit more spicy, and quite tasty. I found myself asking for more bites of his food, even though I’m a bit wary of eating peppers because they don’t agree with me, but the dish wasn’t overloaded with peppers. In fact, the dinner set isn’t overloaded with a lot of extras (I was still a little hungry after the meal), but what it does come with is pretty good. The accompanying tomato and herb soup is delicious and a bit thicker than the canned stuff, and the Turkish tea is definitely worth trying.

Istanbul Desert
Istanbul Desert

Indeed, the cay, or Turkish tea, was my favorite part of the meal, both times I went. If you order it hot, it comes in a small, ornate glass and saucer, and a long white and tan packet of sugar that I at first thought was a long cigarette that flapper girls smoked in the 1920’s. The scalding liquid smelled fruity, like berries or plums, and the taste, once cooled a little, was rich, not weak or bitter at all. The tea is also delicious iced, and reminds me of chai, with hints of cinnamon and clove.

Istanbul Beef Gyro Set
Istanbul Beef Gyro Set

If you often crave gyro sandwiches and falafel like I do, I highly recommend coming here for lunch, as their ¥1000 lunch set menu is a great value, especially compared to the jump in dinner prices, and will allow you to order some of their sides without breaking your budget. My beef gyro sandwich set and my husband’s chicken gyro sandwich set each came with French fries, soup, and their tasty iced cay tea. We also ordered some falafel and hummus. Even though the hummus comes with 4 small pita pieces to dip, we liked dipping our fries in the hummus–yum! Their falafel, those fried, ground chickpeas and herb hush puppy-nugget-things were tasty, especially dipped in the two accompanying sauces, or once again in the hummus.

Istanbul Chicken Gyro Set
Istanbul Chicken Gyro Set

I do have to mention, and I’m not sure if it’s me, or because it’s homemade in small batches, but the hummus tasted a bit different each time we went. When we went for lunch, it was subtle and smooth, but when we went for dinner, it had a slightly more bitter and tobacco-like flavor. It also doesn’t have as much lemon flavor as I’m used to, but I’m sure that can be remedied by asking for a few lemon wedges to squeeze in there.

Payment: Yen, Dollars, Debit Card

Hours: Sunday — Wednesday: 11:00 am — 10:00 pm (last order at 9:30), Friday — Saturday: 11:00 am — 11:00 pm (last order at 10:30), Closed Thursdays

Phone: 098-936-1218

Address: 3-51 Miyagi, Chatan

Google Maps Coordinates: 26.3308494722, 127.7446189

Directions: From Kadena Gate 1, turn left onto 58 and then immediately right at the next stop light, where Family Mart, U.S. Auto Sales, and Pizza In are located. Follow this street toward the sea wall, make a right at the very last light before the sea wall. Istanbul Kebab House will be the royal blue building on the left side, a few blocks down, right next to Coffee Casa. Parking is available in front, on the side of Coffee Casa, or anywhere on the spacious street that won’t block other cars.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Had the chicken wrap twice now, and it has been delicious both times. The price for the wrap (700-800 yen) is very reasonable and it comes with a handful of fries. I normally don’t like the taste of wraps of any sort, but the wraps they use are very tasty. I haven’t had anything else on the menus, but the chicken is worth it if you’re looking for a quick bite.

  2. Thrilled that we tried Istanbul for today’s lunch: Doner and Iskander Kebabs along with the goats cheese/veggie plate. Flavors were rich and authentic. Skip the rice… you don’t need it! The goat’s milk cheese adds just the right flavor to each dish. Service friendly and attentive. $28 for lunch for two is a bit steep, but we have leftovers in the fridge.

    We look forward to our next visit and would recommend this to anyone looking for authentic Turkish cuisine.

  3. Took two friends and they were blown away. Best Babaganush ever and this is coming from someone who is an international traveler. Loved the Gyro. Owner and wife couldn’t have been a sweeter couple and very engaging.

  4. Not really recommendable in my opinion, that was for sure one of the worst kebab ( usually the term “superdry” is used for beer brands, but it fits here too ). I think the problem is mostly because this place is quit empty ( for weekend dinner ). Stingy pates with can- tomatosauce and mayo over the dry meat.
    Just fit perfect with the lazy and unfriendly service there.
    Im sorry, but this place is on the way down.

  5. Have eaten here a few times and would agree with the general consensus here – overpriced, not a large selection, not particularly tasty, but the owner is a nice man. I won’t be back until changes are made, like changes to the menu – Turkish food (which is, imho, some of the best cuisine in the world) has such variety and you could even try offering something special once a week.

  6. Was recommended to us, big disappointment, it was us and one more table occupied and we waited 1-1/2 hour on our food. When it came the presentation was blah and there was no taste to the food it was boring. The prices are way overboard for what you get. This place is a big rib off in my eyes whey, we never went back and would not recommend to anybody.

  7. Funny how Americans “Rate” a restaurant on how fast the food gets to your table. Slow down people !! Enjoy your time out of the house, turn off your I-phone or I-pad and enjoy the company of the people your with. 🙂

  8. The food is ok but a bit high priced. Can’t really say over priced since a lot of things here are expensive but certainly a lot more than I have paid for similar food elsewhere.

    The french fries at Istanbul are not good. The fries at Sunabe are better. Better prices at Sunabe. I will go to Istanbul only for a change up on Sunabe.

    The over/staff are friendly so eating there is not bad.

  9. I am not sure if some people just had a bad first experience or not, but I have been going here for two years now and I love it! I always get either the #1 or #2. You can’t compare Sunabe Gyro and Istanbul Kebob because they are completely different style restaurants. I bounce between the two.

  10. Annwyn, the bellydancer, left island over a year ago. This place is lousy. Don’t take a vegetarian here, or anyone who likes not-greasy meat.

  11. Just ate their last night and it was a big disappointment. I spoke to the owner about the food which tasted pretty greasy and he stated he had to switch to a cheaper Pakastani Halal meat. Too bad as the prices are still the same with the cheaper meat.

  12. I think Sunabe Gyros is so much better than Istanbul! So yummy! It is just a few doors up from Cocok’s by the Sunabe Seawall., above a dive shop.

  13. Sunabe Gyros is really delicious, great gyros and french fries. Cheap too, for eating out in town. Don’t go there for the atmosphere, though the dining room is clean, and there is a roof top dining area which I’ve never gone up to.

  14. If you are looking for a great restaurant off-base that doesn’t change their exchange rate when the bank changes the rate, then check out this restaurant. The owner is maintaining the exchange rate at 100 yen to the $1, despite the exchange rate at the bank.

  15. I actually ate there last night. Haven’t been there since they moved from their old location. Wasn’t overly impressed with the place in the past but a lack of options last night led us to try it again. We were pleasently suprised. The service was nice and prompt, the food was very tasty and we were offered free soup for everyone too 🙂 A little expensive for what it is, but as an infrequent treat its fine.

  16. My husband, 13-month old son, and I eat here weekly; because the food is great. Plus, the owner and cook are wonderful people. Both play peek-a-boo with my son, while we eat. There is a high chair in the restaurant. The service is fast. I highly recommend trying the restaurant. They have lunch specials, which the restaurant opens at 11am. They are closed on Thursdays.

  17. Just ate their the other day and thought it was a bit over priced for what they served. Otherwise pretty nice atmosphere and service was good.
    Daniela

  18. Great to see that this restaurant is worth checking out – just got back from the states and was delighted to see this new eatery right next to our favorite coffee shop – Coffee Casa, which BTW, serves delicious iced coffee w/decadent, real whipped cream. yummy.

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