Istanbul is home to various pudding shops that look similar to one another, all offering an array of milk-based desserts lined up in well-lit pastry cases. One of the most inventive of these is a rice-flour pudding with finely shredded chicken breast. The consistency is so smooth, the flavor so subtle, that an unknowing person would never detect the poultry. Turks doesn't make this dessert, probably because you wouldn't order it, but they do tempt with a variety of other treats you'd find in Istanbul. My favorite was the kYnefe, a homemade cheese sandwiched between two layers of butter-soaked, shredded wheat-like noodle threads (kadaif), baked, and doused in sugar syrup. Rice pudding was also good, served in the burnt manner of Turkish custards, meaning cooked until the top caramelizes into a dark brown crust.
If you've acquired a taste for halvah, which has a high fat content and very sweet, slightly bitter flavor, then you'll appreciate the fine brand imported from Istanbul that's served here. Turkish coffee is another acquired taste, one that I evidently haven't picked up, for I found Turks' to be just like the real thing: unbearably acrid and murky. The average inhabitant of Turkey will consume up to ten cups of this stuff a day, though locals don't usually partake of it after dinner, preferring tea with their sweets.
A culinary instructor once told me that a chef's job is to cut up and apply heat to the divinely delicious foods that God put on Earth, attempting in the process to destroy as little of their natural flavor as possible. A slightly more famous teacher, Plato, said that the beauty of style, harmony, grace, and good rhythm depends on simplicity. The cuisine at Turks succeeds, quite simply, because it takes both of these lessons to heart.
1265 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 305-695-0401. Open for dinner Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.