THE BITE: I’ve been hearing about Taci’s Beyti for years. Last time – actually, just about every time – I get into chatting about restaurants with my friend Suleyman from the Turkish Cultural Center, he tells me about Taci’s Beyti (1953 Coney Island Avenue, between Avenue P and Kings Highway). He claims it’s one of the best Turkish restaurants in Brooklyn. I’m not about to take that on; I’m sure he is has much more expertise than I do, but I will tell you about one very interesting and one very good hot appetizer: hummus with pastrami.
We’re blessed with having more than our fair share of Turkish restaurants in Sheepshead Bay. I think I’ve been in most of them, and I don’t remember finding hummus with pastrami on any other local restaurant’s menu. A quick online search and I find it offered up in Oman, New Jersey, Manhattan and Los Angeles. But, on every page of Gooogle’s search results, it includes a listing of hummus and pastrami at Taci’s Beyti.
It looks like we really do have a unique food stuff on our hands.
Taci’s Beyti offers up a plate of hot hummus topped with pastrami slices for $8.75. The restaurant describes the dish as hummus topped with pastrami, broiled and dressed with melted butter.
Sounds like a cardiologist’s dream, doesn’t it?
Well, it may not be. But, damn, this has to be one of the most flavorful takes on hummus I’ve ever had.
Now I don’t have the exact recipe, nor was I invited into the kitchen, but I’m going to guesstimate how this dish is created. Taci’s Beyti spoons out the hummus into an oven-proof dish, and tops it with melted butter. They then pass it under the broiler, where the butter melts and is slightly browned. This browning of the milk solids in the butter causes it to take on a nutty flavor that works wonderfully with the chickpeas. The resulting alchemy produces a truly unique taste in the world of hummus.
Then the dish is then topped with a Turkish version of pastrami. This pastrami is a more dense, much leaner and much less salty version of what you’re used too. This pastrami – or pastrima – is completely different in flavor and texture, more akin to jerky, though nowhere near as tough, dry or salty, than the steamed version you’ll find at Katz’s Deli.
The plate is then passed under the broiler one last time to heat, but not burn the meat. The hot dish is served to the customer with the edges of the pastrami sizzling.
It is accompanied by fresh lemon wedges to squeeze across the plate. The acid accentuates the flavors and cuts the slight fat of the meat. We spread this combination across some fine bread and dug right in.
At first taste, the hummus reminded me of the filling of a stuffed mushroom, not that there was any trace of mushroom flavor. The combination of melted butter with the hummus resulted in a lighter, almost fluffy, version of the typically dense chickpea spread. Brown butter has been mastered by Amish cooks and used on everything from noodles to corn, but this is the first time I’ve encountered it outside of that community, and it is used well.
The browned butter, the slight trace of salt and the chew of the pastrami elevated the hummus to an entirely new level. This is a dish I’d serve to company or even a boss I was trying to impress. Well done.
Taci’s Beyti Turkish Restaurant, 1953 Coney Island Avenue, (Avenue P and Kings Highway), (718) 627-5750.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.