Looking for falafel worth crossing town for? Look no further!
I had read that Tulay’s were among the best in Auckland, and being a lover of Middle Eastern and Turkish food, that was all I needed to know to seek them out.
Some of the best Cheapeats restaurants are located in the most unassuming places and Tulay’s is one of these. Located in a small strip mall on Kepa Road, you could easily miss it entirely, or mistake it for just another kebab takeaways. But oh how wrong you would be!
Yes, Tulay’s is basically a takeaway restaurant, and yes, there are the usual suspects of kebabs, meals on rice and even pizza. But it is how these are made that makes all the difference. Everything is homemade on the premises.
Tulay is a friendly Turkish woman from Capadoccia who has worked as a chef in Turkey and in New Zealand. Just over a year ago she and her husband decided to open a restaurant for themselves. This takeaways is the first step towards having a fully fledged restaurant.
Since Tulay is from Turkey and has worked both there and in cafes in New Zealand, the menu reflects this rather eclectic background. Most of the menu items obviously appeal to a wide audience of Kiwis, but it is the care that Tulay takes with the food that moves it up a notch from the everyday.
The previously mentioned falafel are the lightest that I have ever eaten, and a recent meal of three of them on perfectly cooked rice with hummus and salad ($11.90) accompanied by hot Turkish apple tea ($3.00) was the perfect rainy-day lunch. I asked Tulay how she makes them, but she would only reveal that as well as the chick peas, garlic and parsley, she puts in “lots of herbs”.
Our first meal from Tulay’s included chicken on rice ($12.50), lamb on rice ($11.90) and that day’s special of lamb mince stuffed eggplant ($16.50). My family were very happy with their meals which also included hummus, tzaziki, tabuleh, salad and warm Turkish bread. The stuffed eggplant was flavoursome, tender and delicious. For some reason I hardly ever cook stuffed eggplant, so this dish was a real treat. Tulay told me that she offers daily specials such as the stuffed eggplant and lamb casseroles in the cooler weather.
We haven’t tried the pizzas but they are made with homemade tomato sauce and use Tulay’s own sausages and pastrami.
Tulay’s is open in the morning for breakfast, and you can opt for either a Kiwi meal such as Eggs on Toast ($5) or Mince on Toast ($8.50) or try the Turkish lentil soup ($8.50) or the traditional Turkish-style continental breakfast ($12.50) . The Spanish Omelet ($11.50) made with homemade chorizo sausage, olives and tomato definitely appeals to me.
Tulay obviously has a sweet tooth because her display cabinet is full of homemade New Zealand and Turkish treats such as carrot cake, baklava and Turkish rice pudding (most for $5 each).
Tulay also does out catering, and her photos of roasted legs of lamb, Turkish mezze, salads and beautiful cakes were stunning. She will create your own menu according to your budget, so definitely worth keeping in mind for a celebration or social gathering. Apparently local families also order whole pans of homemade moussaka and lasagne to take home.
I only hope that Tulay fulfills her dream of opening her own full service restaurant some day so that we can taste more of her homestyle Turkish cooking. In the meantime, enjoy those falafels!