“Modern, exceptional Turkish cuisine” is not a phrase often used in Shanghai. Now there’s a reason to do so. Garlic is a very welcome addition to an often overlooked part of the dining scene, and everything here works incredibly well.
The swanky interior befits a luxury yacht floating down the Bosphoros, but we yearned for the alluring captain’s table outside. On the off chance it’s available on a balmy fall evening, grab it.
The similarly plush menu is a three-fold of everything Turkish. We were spoilt for choice, which must be a common theme as the waitress brought over a tray of their cold starters for immediate selection. It’s a good idea, and with a warm pita smothered in a very garlicky aubergine salatasi (RMB68, Turkish salad) in hand, picking off the menu comes much more fluidly.
Sticking to the “small dishes” side of the menu, we dipped, tore and wrapped our way around a selection of succulent dolmades (RMB64, stuffed vegetables), deliciously nutty walnut kofte meatballs (RMB66) and a curious baked dish of cheese and prawns (RMB75). All go very well to the tune of a crisp and herby lahmacun (RMB55, Turkish pizza). A definitely avoidable octopus salad (RMB68) came at the same time—perhaps not everything in the kitchen is gilded with gold.
For mains, they’ve a range of kebabs and grilled meats, and to test the kitchen and our own ordering prowess, we chose what should be the absolute star of a Turkish menu (and in our opinion the entire cuisine): sarma beyti (RMB135). A skewer of minced lamb, wrapped in pastry-like lavash and drizzled in a tomato sauce, Garlic’s is served sliced alongside sour cream. It makes every mouthful absolute heaven.
Garlic is off to a hot start. Other than a couple of food imperfections, it’s excellent.