Arriving in Kyrgyzstan from Istanbul seven years ago, Orhan Eker found a niche that needed filling. There were already several established Turkish kebab joints in Bishkek. But despite the relatively small market for Turkish food, he opened a now-popular café serving home-cooked favorites: spinach and rice dishes, salads, and chicken cooked in herbs that he imports from Turkey.
In Istanbul, there are many such restaurants, small places that are often an extension of someone’s apartment. But, before Eker arrived, there was not one in Bishkek.
“There are many Turkish, Russian, Kyrgyz, and Americans from the United Nations that come for a meal,” he says of his restaurant, Obzhorka, which occupies a leafy yard off one of Bishkek’s central thoroughfares. “The UN people like the salads.”
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.