Before I introduce you to the star of the show, I firstly want to introduce you to the idea of what Midye Dolma is. Midye Dolma is the name given to a street food dish commonly eaten in the coastal areas of Turkey, such as İstanbul, İzmir and Bodrum. The word ‘Midye’ in Turkish means Mussels, and the word ‘Dolma’ means ‘stuffing’ or ‘filling’, so together Midye Dolma means stuffed mussels. Midye Dolmas are always stuffed with aromatic rice and served with a freshly cut lemon on the side. What you put in the rice is limited only by your imagination, but typically people add salt, black pepper, onions and tomato paste. Midye Dolma can also be simply referred to as Midye.
The Midyeci is a newly established restaurant in the bustling and ever changing streets of Dalston. Located in the cross bridge of Islington and Hackney it is easily accessible and close to transport links such as the overground (Dalston Junction/Haggerston) and bus. It takes roughly 45 minutes to get there from Imperial. The man pioneering and challenging the idea of Turkish food being a simple and greasy late-night takeaway after clubbing is Ahmet Zotkadzha. Born and raised in Turkey and coming to the UK later on in his life, he felt that even though London is very rich in cuisines, the city had not developed and diversified enough of its seafood choices. During the spring of 2021 he planned on doing exactly that by opening his very own store and bringing dishes that are adored by many in Turkey but not yet well known in the UK.
The Midyeci has a selection of seafoods available, providing different deals for those of you who are not sure with what to get and like a bit of a bargain. They also serve two popular Turkish drinks, one being a drink called Ayran, which is a salty diluted yogurt drink; and Shalgam, a fermented turnip juice - something you either love or hate, along with your standard coke and water.
The first dish is the Midye Dolma, which is what the store is primarily known for. Coming in different sizes (small and large) with different add-on flavours (normal, spicy, curry and a house special) the Midye Dolma doesn’t disappoint. We ordered a large portion of stuffed mussels with each flavour, paired with a complimentary lemon on the side to enhance flavour.To start off, the Midye Dolma is eaten by opening the shell to reveal the rice which is carefully stuffed into the meat of the mussel and using the free shell to scoop the rice. Overall, the taste of the stuffed mussels was very light; the freshness and quality of the ingredients stood out and all was easy to eat (once you get the hang of it!). Admittedly, the stuffed mussels were quite addicting - especially as we tried all the different flavours at hand. Each flavour gave the dish a subtle kick, without hiding the natural taste of the mussels. Besides the add-on flavours, the mussels also don’t pack an ocean punch either, perfect for those who aren't the biggest fans of the salty taste, but want to slowly try getting into seafood.
Out of all the flavours we tried, the most interesting was definitely the curry sauce - also notably uncommon in Turkey. The curry flavour was surprisingly very nicely integrated, distinct yet not overbearing the taste of the mussel, making it a joy to eat. The spicy mussels were also delicious, though those who aren’t a big fan of spicy food shouldn’t be apprehensive as it was very easy to digest - the spice itself is quite mild.
Our second meal was the Midye Burger. This unique but popular recipe is definitely something that caught my eye - which is essentially mussels in the form of a burger patty topped with pickles, lettuce and a slice of mild cheddar cheese all housed under a lightly toasted brioche burger bun. It also comes with a nice side of crisps and pickled vegetables. With your first bite you are immediately welcomed with the light creamy texture of the patty, along with the slight but not overbearing taste of the mussels. Topped off with the sweet-but-not-too-sweet taste of the brioche bun and the mild cheddar cheese sandwiched in between, the soft and well rounded taste of the patty were provided with a sharper and more refined flavour. The acidity of the pickled vegetables are also a good palate cleanser, allowing you to easily transition between foods without muddling flavours in your mouth.
The Midyeci isn’t limited to just Midye Dolma or Midye Burger. They also offer other recipes such as Balik Durum (grilled fish wrap) which includes roasted peppers, lettuce and their fish of choice, mackerel. Another dish on offer, popular as a Turkish street food served near the coast of Istanbul is called Balik Ekmek (grilled mackerel sandwich) served with freshly cut lettuce and onions, all under a lightly toasted Turkish bread. Although the combination of foods may sound quite simple, the grilled mackerel filet is nicely seasoned and once again has a complimentary lemon to hydrate the fish and bread. The mackerel is mostly deboned for an easy eating experience as well. The Midyeci also serves deep fried king prawns, calamari and mussels - perfect for a day when you’re craving seafood.
Prices were also quite decent, since seafood in general can be on the pricier side. With their generous portions and their delicious taste, the Midye Burger (with crisps and pickled vegetables included) is priced at £7.50 whereas their small Midye Dolma is priced at £6.50 and their large is priced at £9.50, with a 40p increase when bought with your sauce of choice.
Overall we really enjoyed the meals The Midyeci had to offer, and we found the flavours unique to London. The Midyeci gives Londoners a nice break from all the meat-based Turkish restaurants, providing fresh, tasty and healthy seafood dishes for those who want to experience a new taste of Turkey. In terms of the inside of the restaurant, even though the interior isn’t that big, the seating is comfortable and presents a nice spot for a small group of friends to sit around and enjoy what The Midyeci has to offer. We also found the workers to be super welcoming, with a nice sense of community.
If you have some time and want to explore new flavours and in particular Turkish seafood, The Midyeci is a place you should visit - also tell them the Felix article is what brought you over here, I'm sure they would appreciate it :)