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Turkish Delights: A Tour of Efes Restaurant's Hidden-Ish Specialties


Hey, even some recommendations for vegetarians from the long running Turkish char grill!

By SmSh
2023-06-20 12:00:00

  • 1.

    Shanghai’s beloved outpost of modern interpretations of Turkish classics, Efes Restaurant, has grown up with Pudong over the past 10 years or so, slinging Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine to the suits out east. They’ve only recently expanded to Puxi in a leafy little venue on Huashan Lu. It’s already become a twice-a-month-er in our rotation, and we’re here to sing its praises.

  • 2.

    If you’ve enjoyed a cursory encounter with Turkish cuisine you know what to expect: Lots of breads and dips, lots of small plates (meze - a very fun word), lots of bright and tangy salads. 

    Lots of things stuffed or, variously, wrapped into other things (dolma and sarma). 

    And LOTS of gargantuan, stomach-busting meat platters. Thats the main thing; these huge, unreal meat platters with basically every farm animal on them served together. And yeah, they’re great, the sharing platters. They’re great, in particular, to order with a bunch of like-minded carnivores, along with 5-10 beers… 

    …but today we’re not doing the meat platter. 

  • 3.

    Today, we’re shinning the light on some of the deep cuts in the Efes Restaurant menu. These are some of the specialties you might not know about as you breeze by them on the way to that platters section towards the back on the menu. These are some of the B-sides, which might be more interesting than the aforementioned main event.  

    (Or, at least, here’s a bunch of veggie friendly options you can use to convince your vegetarian friend to visit with your next time.)

    Anyway, our working theory is that if a restaurant can survive in Shanghai F&B this long, you must be doing unique and interesting things under the radar. 10 years. In Pudong. That’s quite a feat. The menu at Efes feels like that, like it’s been 10 years in the making. Like it evolved over time with little improvements and additions here and there. 

    So here’s a bunch of stuff from that evolution: 

  • 4.

    Efes Ozel Meze Tabagi (Efe Special Cold Appetizer Plate) - 138rmb

    You’ve got your opening lentil soups, the Mediterranean salads, and to the creamy hummus, but you should start by splurging out on the Efe Special Cold Appetizer Plate. It's slightly more expensive but you get a few extras here that you don't get with the standard, including the muhammara -- a Middle Eastern walnut and roasted red pepper dip -- sweet, slightly smoky, and just a lil' spicy -- and the haydari -- strained yogurt and cheese, with fresh herbs -- creamy and tangy and the unleavened bread fresh from the oven.

    This one's also completely meat-free, so you can graciously save most of it for your vegetarian dining partner. 

  • 5.

    Etli Yaprak Sarma (Stuffed Vine Leaves) - 88rmb

    A very famous and classic Turkish dish that dates back to the Ottoman Empire (or so they say). This is the vegetarian, cold apps version. Vine leaves stuffed with Turkish rice and veggies, served with homemade fresh yoghurt, rolled up like a cigar A great, really interesting appetizer that is simple yet... regal? Like something out of a myth, maybe. It's the vine leaves.

    It says "Turkish and Mediterranean" cuisine on the menu, and you get a real traveling sort of flavor and spice sensation with different ingredients and different origins mashed up in one menu—lots of classic dishes filtered through Efes' own modern house variations.

  • 6.

    The "Turkish pizza", a bit of Turkish pride, is made from scratch in the kitchen at Efes Restaurant.  Called Geleneksek Pideler, this is one of the house specialties. There are tons of regional variations of this, and the menu reflects that with lots of different options for fillings — meat, kaşar, beyaz peynir, tomato, cheese, and more.

  • 7.

    They call this “slow cooked fast food” and it’s loaded with toppings. It differs from pizza in a few key ways: the shape obviously, but also it doesn’t include sauce.  You can still eat it with your hands though. 

  • 8.

    Vejeteryan Pide (Vegetarian Pita) - 98rmb

    Maintaining our loose theme, this is the vegetarian variation of the pita, which comes with seasonable vegetables and cheese. It's great for a side and also for a full meal if you're not feeling too hungry and just want a great smaller meal to tide you over.

  • 9.

    Another stand-out on the Efes menu for pescatarians (or anyone looking for a leaner mean main in place of beer or lamb. 

  • 10.

    Somon Izgara (Chargrilled Salmon Fillet) - 150rmb

    The house marinated salmon heavy on the butter, spice, and tomato -- really juicy, fresh, and filling.  Melt-in-your-mouth good. 

  • 11.

    One of Efes' signatures in their char grill, which gives the meat dishes a rich and smokey quality, not unlike Xinjiang style.

  • 12.

    Vejeteryan Tabagi (Vegetarian Plate) - 138rmb

    A little bit of everything in this generous grilled vegetable side. Only 138rmb. 

  • 13.

    Alright, enough vegetarian dishes. Dipping into meatier things now... 

  • 14.

    Yogurtlu Ali Pasa Kepab (Ali Pasha Kebab with Yoghurt Sauce) - 168rmb

    A more manageable way to sample the meat platter, especially if you're pairing it with a bunch of other sides. Chargrilled beef kebab, lamb chop meatballs on top of Turkish pita with yogurt sauce, tomato sauce and melted butter. Served with extra freshly baked Lavash or Turkish-style rice.  

  • 15.

    Sultan Sarma - 155rmb 

    If you're looking for something that will truly put you over the top, make this the main course of your meal and build everything around it's immanent arrival. The sultan sarma — minced beef and lamb balls wrapped in the signature Lavash bread and smothered in tomato sauce and light Turkish cheese. This gives you everything -- the house bread, the char grill, the cheese, the house tomato sauce. 

  • 16.

    Lots of uniqueness on the drinks menu too. They've got knock-you-on-your-ass, super strong Turkish coffee, tea, their own house beer (called Efes, no less), and Turkish raki — anise-flavored liquor that does the trick.

    Atmosphere is simple and understated. Great for dates, groups of friends looking for a hearty meal before a night on the town, and family dinners. They've got a nice and comfy patio too. 

  • 17.

    Special deal: Efes is offering a 10% to SmSh readers who show this article upon seating! 

    The Puxi location of Efes Restaurant is at 600 Huashan Lu, near Wulumuqi Zhong Lu. They're open Sunday to Thursday from 11:30am to 10pm; and on Friday and Saturday, 11:30am to 10:30pm.

    They take reservations at 181 2116 1177. Scan the QR code to follow the latest updates from the restaurant and to make reservations over WeChat.