Restaurant review: Texture, flavor and aroma mingle at the corner of Lake Otis and Northern Lights

Turkish Delight restaurant is under new ownership, bringing a fresh presentation inspired by centuries-old cuisine.

Two Turkish proverbs: 1. “A cup of coffee commits one to 40 years of friendship.” 2. "Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon." Photo by Kaycee Davis

With Mother’s Day behind us and Father’s Day in our near future, we are ready for summer clothes and lighter dinner fare. I am not big on fashion, but I like to eat and can help you find a great restaurant. 
Local restaurant Turkish Delight, located at 2210 E Northern Lights, serves Turkish cuisine. They opened years before the pandemic, and recently changed hands. 

While the old restaurant was heavy on the Turkish decor, the new Turkish Delight — still serving Turkish food — was purchased by siblings Zeynep and Engin Kilic and Zeynep’s husband Wayne Gould. The new decor is lighter, with glimpses of Turkey in pictures on the walls. 

With a dedicated team of cooks and food servers, the place hums with a steady influx of customers coming in, getting seated, dining and leaving. When I called ahead to see if I needed reservations, they said no, but they do let people make them. I decided to make them and was glad I did, because not long after my family and I arrived, a large group of people showed up. Had we shown up a few minutes later without a reservation, there would have been a wait: always make reservations if the restaurant allows it.

If I were to use one word to describe Turkish Delight’s food, it would be “textureful.” After you get taken in by the menu with its descriptions of foods inspired by millennia of influence at a major crossroad, you order the food and a time capsule is brought to you on a plate. You can feel and hear the history as much as you can smell, taste, and see it.
You don’t “dig in” to Turkish Delight meals; you scan them in the same manner you scan poetry. You look at your meal and inhale the aroma and notice the spice notes. You look for dipping sauces in small bowls, and notice if there are groupings of meats or vegetables and observe sprinkles of anything on top of them which beg to be tasted alone the first time. You cut into your entree and you feel that first bite – sometimes you hear it – as much as you taste it.
During my visit I ordered the iksander. The gyro meat tasted as if it had been soaked in the tomato sauce, but it was not overpowering. It was delicious and I wanted more. The portion was generous and I would take half home with me.
My dessert, the Künefe, got another one of my scannings for texture, smells, sensations. At first I noticed the sprinkling of mastic, which is derived from, and looks like, pistachio on the top. I was surprised that it did not taste like pistachio but instead had a light citrus note, like orange.

I used a knife and fork to cut into the phyllo crust. There was a satisfying crunch in the initial bite followed by smooth cheese. To my eyes, the phyllo resembled straw. It quickly cooled but the texture and flavor were not compromised. 

I am not a huge fan of coffee, but Turkish Delight coffee is something special as it is thick and comes with a tiny square of Turkish Delight candy, which has a sweetness that counters the strong taste of the coffee.
My dinner companions, my husband and my daughter, enjoyed the visit as much as I did. Asked about the restaurant a few days later and what she liked best, my daughter said, “The menu with vegetarian foods.” While she had a meat dish, she has friends who are vegetarians.
My husband said he liked the variety on the menu, not just for dietary reasons, but for how it is arranged into categories and then into hot and cold. He knows a lot of people with dietary issues and the menu is presented with a code for gluten free, dairy free, and nut free. He likes that “the items with dietary codes are not special, but simply… food.”
I found the price to be average for Anchorage. Appetizers are around $15, and dinner is anywhere from $20 to $35, with some dishes being offered as a sandwich version for just $18. Dessert is no more than $11.
My experience with Turkish Delight was fantastic because it appealed to all my senses and then some. The restaurant has the personality of what I imagine to be a cafe in Turkey with its flow of people and food. It is eclectic without being over-the-top. 

In an email with Zeynep, I found out that she plans a winter menu. So if there is something you want to try on the current menu, but you order something else, be sure to pay them another visit before winter comes.