Good restaurants in awkward locations seems to be a theme of this month’s newly opened dining spots, and unfortunately Efes suffers perhaps even more than Y2C2 or Kathleen’s Waitan. It’s a shame, because on purely culinary terms, this ambitious new Turkish restaurant is at least equal to Yongjia Lu’s Garlic, until now the yardstick for Ottoman cuisine in the city.
Although it’s somewhat stranded between Lujiazui and Century Park, there are two metro stations nearby (line 9’s Shangcheng Lu and line 2’s Dongchang Lu) and diners who do make the trip will find an upmarket restaurant serving modern takes on Ottoman classics, in a similar style to Garlic, in fact. The prices aren’t cheap (kebabs range from 85-145RMB, pides start at 63RMB), but the portions are very generous and the undeniable talent in the kitchen at least ensures you won’t have made a wasted journey.
On one visit, we go for the sultan sarma (134RMB), a giant of a dish with delicious minced beef and lamb balls wrapped in lavash bread and smothered in a gorgeously rich tomato sauce and light Turkish cheese. Before the expertly judged kebab even arrives however, we’re given two pieces of outstanding unleavened bread, fresh from the oven and accompanied by a range of tasty dips (on another visit, the bread has changed, but is no less tasty). This is then followed by a plate of roasted tomato, sliced peppers and onions so big that we think we’ve been erroneously served a main dish, until the waitress informs us it’s to go with the bread. Efes is evidently best enjoyed in groups – if you’re dining alone, plump for a salad such as the 58RMB Emirgan served with quail’s eggs (though this too comes super sized).
Address aside, the ingredients are all there for Efes and, as Pudong’s only upmarket Turkish restaurant, the quality of the food will hopefully be enough for it to bring customers in from further afield.Charles Miller