Istanbul’s Hilton Dragons – An avoidable cliche

Now culture is something I refrain from commenting and I shall remain as impartial as one can be. Dragons, Great name Hilton but cooked by lizards and served by waiters. Yes I am talking about the 60s concrete facade overlooking the Bosphorous and the wider Istanbul.

Well the view was exhilarating but that doesn’t mean you have a good restaurant Señor Hilton. Nevertheless a linen on the table is always a good indication that a restaurant is able to entertain 0.3% -2% of the revenue obviously depending upon revenue on cloth. Good sign indeed but hang on cutleries, uniforms etc matched a marriage of a Chinese individual with a deposed ottoman from the Attaturk era. A reinvention of sorts.

Ok so one thing that really bothered me prior to even setting gaze on the menu was that they didn’t have fresh cut chilli and bok choi. Hello it’s semi staple at any Chinese at least outside China or let’s say outside the broader Mandarin and Cantonese speaking communities. No and this disheartened me so to all you golfers I was a bandit to begin with. Yes I have lived in HongKong and the Chinese diasporas coastal gateways of Penang too and I knew that this was going to bug me.

Moving on the drinks menu had more Turkish wine I hadn’t heard of (to be fair how would I know anyway I am not from here) vs the international menu which resembled a mediocre offering of the supermarket hits ie Chianti etc. Now from my experience not that I am a sommelier neither do I possess a diploma of sorts on  articulating the soil content that I might know a thing or to. Bloody hell pair the damn wine if you are a five star establishment with a buying power similar to the crowds of barber employed by Suleiman the great. Yep let’s leave it at the barber and Suleiman as  other lists might be misleading for this particular hulk session.

And other restaurants that I either am compelled to visit vs. don’t want to visit just yet; think of a paired wine to food list; generic it maybe but even the waiters or as they say F&B staffs at your institutions might be able to explain to the end consumer after abstaining session.

Enough with exchanging pleasantries I went on to order some starters which tickled my fancy. 1. Salmon sashimi 2. The usual aromatic duck 3. Some soups, 4. Maki roll yes a maki roll and a California roll in a Chinese restaurant. Hmm odd choices but that goes with the menu. Bizarre offerings. Now this place was already coming as a hybrid of uncertainties ie they didn’t know what they were doing. And more importantly they thought they could do it. Even the remote parts of Tasmania have mastered sushi and here we are sitting 2 miles away from Asia on the European side of Bosphorous scratching our head on the bigger discourse of multiculturalism.

The food arrives 24mins later: precisely which is alright given that the nearest hypermarket had probably ran out of salmon and the chef had to take a golf buggy which he forgot to charge prior to  leaving. Trust me I understand the human element when it comes to cooking especially supply and delivery related. Just fail to understand what the marketing element of the restaurant not get when they quote it’s a fresh salmon. Hmm. Well when it arrived the marketing played just like a 24 hour clock minus the 24. Not bad in appearance but if you are familiar to antipasties and in particular carpaccio. Yes this was a carpaccio not a sashimi. The rest I wouldn’t even bother commenting on as they were very generic and a local delivery place would probably serve up something quicker. However the theatre was alive though with the waiter cutting away the crispy duck. Fair play to him I received a duck drumstick as a leftover a bit later on which I think triggered the meow variety of our famous pet ( I talk about this a bit later). Taste was  mutilated a little and crispness was tangling on the nerve like texture of the duck. Now I didn’t even have those brittle combs / brushes to straighten it.

I understand that food evolves and circles around the local taste wherever you go. And I know in some places MSG is frowned upon especially in Chinese cooking but here MSG would be an acronym rather literate to flash out, not sure if any allergenic individual will have their questions fulfilled either. It’s a matter of exposure and some serious legal adherence in the West in general. No the Dragon’s didn’t have a clue.

Mains – what to choose and what not choose is a distinction that I just couldn’t establish given that I was already getting bored. Mind you some places get it right; eg so if you go to China in whole and try Indian food they actually do make it happen and it is yum albeit most the staffs are non Chinese and Indian. Well dragons lacked this significant element and stuck to the ethos of their intuition. Hey look at us! We now have Chinese food ingredients and can’t really take the real guys on plus they would probably be stealing some skilled labour from our sovereign territory. Oh please Dragon; specialism is an aura not a theft. (PS this is an assumption based on a visual survey and linguistic observation)

So desserts were out of the question because there was no real effort put into it. But I have one last beef with our Señor (the H chap) A global brand, A global brand standard yet you went local which is fine but even your club sandwich was so bad in the afternoon prior to coming down to Dragons, that I had to turn it back. Moreover picking on your global credentials ‘wouldn’t you really have a restaurant standard on all franchisees and H run restaurant brands?’ Or was it just executed badly.

Homogenisation is a bad term when it comes to food but standards aren’t and with a machinery of over thousands of hotel I would expect a strict guideline.

NB  would any Joe/ mustafa/ Jing with or without Hilton honors (your loyalty scheme) be given the same message and response. Let’s talk your talk ie your transient group of customers have a very few choice don’t they as they are all too blue for you to care because at blue you blink and by diamond you flatter with all you incandescent freebies. Oh please the hierarchy is all too crap. And the diamonds will no more than the others leave you as the homogenisation hasn’t worked and you are still getting away with a sub-standard Chinese offering at Hilton Bosphorous under the pet name of an extinct (metaphoric reptile) Dragons.

Do revisit this place and send one of your secret Santa auditors who is not pompous because that gives away their status to the managers of the place but choose someone who is saying dont worry about this and that and oh ok no worries that you don’t have this particular dish or a kitten that just ran under the table. Yes it did; (I mentioned this earlier) now how do i know it was a safe four legger. Sorry to all cat lovers I love them too but not when I am about to tuck into a steamed sea bass.

Well that’s all folks the outcry above is that of a true eater who eats and and likes others to feel special when they tuck into their chopsticks in this situation or any other metal, plastic and humanly mediums to eat.

Just get it right Dragons; I don’t want to be your consultant but get a native Chine shut to rate you, trust me you won’t get too far on tripadvisor page.

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