I'm an avid lover of most Turkish foods. I can get behind tomato and cucumber salads ("What? No ranch dressing?" says my husband), bread without butter, french fries served with my omlettes, but there is one area of Turkish cuisine that simply doesn't suit me and that's dessert.
I couldn't care any less about künefe or kadayif or, dare I say it?, baklava any more than I already do. I will happily, gleefully choose apple pie or cheesecake or chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting or oatmeal-raisin cookies or peach cobbler -- I could go on here, but I think you get the idea -- before choosing a Turkish dessert. Except pistachio ice cream. I do make exceptions for that.
Which is a really long-winded way of saying that until just a couple of weeks ago, I had never been to Istanbul's most famous baklava restaurant, Karaköy Güllüoğlu. I'd eaten baklava a few times, sure, but I hadn't yet gone to the mecca of all Turkish baklava joints, the one place where everyone says you simply must go in order to taste truly divine baklava. (Other than Syria, of course.)
That place would be Karaköy Güllüoğlu in, where else, Karaköy. Confusingly, there are other shops in Istanbul with the same name, but this shop has been in the same location near the seafront since 1949 and it has no other branches anywhere else in the city.
Not being a connoisseur of baklava myself, I do feel somewhat irresponsible judging whether or not Karaköy Güllüoğlu's Antepli baklava is indeed better than anyone else's, but I will say that I like it, that it somehow does taste more refined than most other baklava I've had, less like many disparate sheets of phyllo dough covered in syrup and more like a single melted sweet soaked in syrup.
I'm not saying I'm going to renounce my apple pie-, chocolate cake-, crisp- and cobbler-eating tendencies, but when I'm in the Karaköy neighborhood I may just pop in for a little something sweet now and again.
If you go: Karaköy Güllüoğlu, Rıhtım Cad., Katlı Otopark Altı, Karaköy, Tel: 212 293 0910