Thursday, October 10, 2013

Grub on the Road: Pamukkale

There are lots of ways I could begin writing about my trip last weekend.  I could tell you about our hellish trip there (after telling Engrish we needed to be at the airport at 4:30 a.m. for our 6:30 flight, AeroMongolia didn't actually show up to check us in til 1:15 that afternoon - the departure time just kept sliding backwards, but never far enough at once to let us run back into town for Engrish's sleeping bag or the Cinnabons I should have bought the night before).  I could jump to the chase and show you lots of cool photos from the Eagle Festival, which was awesome, even if we missed the first day of it thanks to our shitty trip.  I could apologize...I totally dropped the ball last weekend.  I meant to write a ghost post to tide you over til I got back from Olgii, but last week kind of got away from me.  Hell, the last seven weeks kinda got away from me, and that's a good thing (time slowing down is a Bad Sign).
But it's Thursday, so let me start - at the beginning, as it were - with a Grub Club sorta post.  Out in the back of beyond is probably the last place you expect to find amazing food but Pamukkale Turkish Restaurant is exactly that (on both accounts).  I'd read about it in Lonely Planet - it stuck in my head because not only do I love Turkish food, Pamukkale is one of the reasons I want to go back to Turkey at some point - and Engrish and Geek were so shell-shocked by our hellish day that they would have followed me just about anywhere.
(You can tell Geek is shell-shocked because she's trying to produce some cleavage.  Poor thing.)  The place was jam-packed with tourists, but we got a table immediately anyways.  Possibly due to pity for Geek's lack of cleavage (just kidding - the servers were all female, although the owner was one helluva gorgeous Turkish guy).
The salad was a fantastic way to start.  After a day of sitting in the airport eating Pringles, granola bars, and spicy nut mix, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in a salty, olive oil dressing were like manna from Heaven.  We devoured that sucker, and kept the juices to soak up with our bread.
It was my heart's greatest desire to have a nice plate of doner kebab.  That desire was unfulfilled - doner wasn't even on the menu - so I went for the adana kebab (the first time.  We went back to Pamukkale two more times before leaving Olgii this morning).  The meat was juicy and tender and perfectly seasoned.  I wanted to order it again the next night, but Geek told me I had to try something new.
The pirzola kebab looked good to Engrish, so she went with it.  I'd never had it before - it's a very thin piece of meat attached to a small piece of bone wrapped in foil.  It was just a little spicy, and although I have no idea what part of which animal it came from, it was gorgeous.  The third time we were there, Engrish ordered it again.  And I finally got another adana, whereas...
Geek got the grilled chicken for the second time that night.  On our first night she decided it looked promising, and she was right.  In fact, when we ran into Engrish's friends, Craig and Sara (along with an American named Henry who randomly struck up a conversation with me...who says I can't make friends?), having dinner there after the festival, they said they always go for this dish or the shish kebab (which I tried that night, and it was equally delectable).

They had desserts, too, and we tried them.  I had the same honey-soaked slice of nirvana all three nights.  Based on my success with it, Geek and Engrish ordered other cakes our second time, with varying degrees of success, none of them approaching the cake I ordered.  Engrish tried the Turkish coffee, too, and enjoyed it, while Geek and I went with coke.  If you make it to Olgii for the Eagle Festival - or hell, for any other reason - you really do have to check it out.  I haven't even had Turkish food this delicious in UB.


  1. Went to Pamukkale as heard it had good internet and noticed 90%+ was foreigners. Tried to use internet but it was slower than the guest home.
    Menu prices here waaay higher than other cafe's in Olgii ... i couldn;t believe the price difference (sure Pamukkale is not that expensive, but it is much higher and went to find Mongolian food). Mongolian cafe prices are hal their cost in UB, and with fresher meats,, imo. just one example .. Buuz just 250 each vs 550-/650 in UB.

    1. We found the prices to be quite reasonable. If you enjoy eating coarse, fatty mutton in all of your meals, then yes, you will save a lot of money by sticking with Mongolian food. Since the three of us live in Mongolia, we don't feel the need to eat tsuivan and khuushuur at all meals, especially when we were going out into the countryside for three days, where mutton was going to be our mainstay. I don't remember using the internet myself, but if it was packed with tourists, that does have the tendency of slowing down the wifi. Considering it was packed and the staff was still attentive and we got our food quickly, we were very impressed.