You can get takeaway at Anatolia Tantuni, but if you eat in, owner Burhan Kurucu will offer you a complimentary tea. “It’s Turkish hospitality,” he says.
Kurucu and his family arrived in Australia a year ago. They moved after his brother, who was a professor at Monash University, died of cancer, leaving behind a wife and a young son. In Turkey, Kurucu worked as a cook in the army, so the idea of opening a restaurant in Melbourne came naturally.
From the outside, you might think Anatolia Tantuni is just your average kebab shop, but go inside and you’ll see there’s much more to it than that. You can order a kebab or the famous Istanbul-style wet burger, but the real star here is the tantuni. “In Turkey, tantuni is very popular, but here [in Australia] you mostly find kebab,” says Kurucu.
Tantuni is a specialty from Mersin, in the south of Turkey. It involves cooking diced meat (at Anatolia Tantuni, it’s beef, chicken or a mix of both) in a large frying pan called a sac. “I season it with paprika, oregano and sumac, and then add parsley, tomato and onion,” explains Kurucu.
In Turkey, Kurucu worked as a cook in the army, so the idea of opening a restaurant in Melbourne came naturally.
As a takeaway order, you can have the meat in a wrap or in a sandwich, but if you eat in, it gets even better. The plates are massive and the meat comes on rice, over bread, or wrapped in bread and covered with garlic yoghurt.
There’s even a vegetarian iskender tantuni (served over bread), where the meat is replaced by vegies, including capsicum, broccolini and carrot.
While Kurucu is at the front making tantuni and serving customers, his wife, Birten, prepares gözleme and desserts. The gözleme is available with meat (beef and onion), and in vegan (spinach, mushroom, capsicum and onion) and vegetarian (spinach, onion and feta or mushroom capsicum and feta) versions.
For something special, come on Saturdays to have the kelle paça çorbasi, a hearty sheep’s head soup seasoned with garlic, chilli and oregano.
Pretty much everything is made to order – so you’ll have to wait a few minutes to be served, which guarantees everything is fresh. Take advantage of this time to sit at the front to observe how a tantuni is made. Once you get your plate, make sure to stop by the self-serve station at the back to get extra pickles, chillies and sauces.
When it comes to drinks, our pick is either ayran, a mint-yoghurt drink, or şalgam, a bright purple turnip juice.
15 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Vic
Tue - Wed 10 am – 11 pm
Fri – Sat 10 am – 4 am
Sun 10 am – 10 pm
The pink grapefruit in this pavlova has a lovely bitter flavour that cuts through the sweetness of the meringue and balances a rich meal.