Unlike other restaurants serving shawarma (Turkish doner) in Istanbul, the “historical Black Sea Shawarma” store is considered a “historical treasure,” according to the description of the Turkish press.
In a small two-storey wooden shop just a few meters in size, hidden in a corner surrounded by many luxury shops and restaurants in the Beşiktaş neighborhood, Asim Usti has maintained his character and style of serving shawarma since 1973.
Over these years, Asim Usta did not coordinate the sixtieths behind the changes that took place in the country, until his shop became one of the most important landmarks in the Beşiktaş neighborhood.
One shawarma “skewer” consisting of 100 kilograms of lamb and beef meat, is what Asim Usta has been providing daily since he opened his store 47 years ago. The goal is not the quantity, but the quality and taste that does not change over the years.
The “Historic Black Sea Shawarma” store is highly rated on the Internet, many citizens and tourists have chosen it to be the best in town.
But these characteristics, which Asim Usta are well aware, did not push him to increase the number of shawarma skewers he serves daily, or the amount of meat that runs out of meat every day by 4 pm at the latest.
Asim Usta told Al-Jazeera that this Sikh “is a history and identity for the place that is known for queuing people in front of it to get a share of the doner.”
He added, “People come to us from all nationalities and places, and lining up around us waiting for food is what distinguishes us from others, because it enhances our confidence in what we offer and adds joy to the place.”
Although the only shawarma skewer in the place run out disturb the peace of people and their enjoyment of this small restaurant, but it was born within every customer and lover of Shawarma Asim Usta to ensure that he allocates a space of his time, so that this skewer realizes it before it ends.
Fadia – a Jordanian girl who lives in Istanbul and works next to Asim Usta store – says that she leaves work for half an hour during the morning hours, so that she can get the shawarma Asim Usta, before her usual run out at 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
She added to Al-Jazeera Net, “The taste of Asim Usta Shawarma is a mixture of Turkish doner and Levantine Arabic shawarma with tomatoes and onions added to it, and the bread that they bake fresh inside the place adds a special non-commercial flavor to it.”
Asim Usta stuffs all the shawarma sandwiches that are offered to customers. Two people help him, one of whom follows the shawarma skewer and weighs the portions, and another handles the bread.
The Corona pandemic cast a shadow over the Asim Usta store, not on the scale of sales, but it affected people lining up around the store waiting for their food, and also changed the daily opening and closing dates.
In this regard, the restaurant’s management explained to Al-Jazeera Net that they now open their doors from 10:30 in the morning, while the closing date remains linked to the depletion of the shawarma skewer.
He also stressed that although the shop does not own a home delivery service, whose importance has increased with the general closure conditions witnessed by most countries in the world, including Turkey, the store management stressed that their sales were not affected.
And the management added, “Our customers come to us to take their food and leave the countries to sit or queue around the store. This is a trust that has developed between us for years, but what may only be affected is that the shawarma skewer remains available for longer hours, giving more people an opportunity to try this distinctive mixture of meat.”
Asim Usta offers shawarma sandwiches with shawarma meat dishes accompanied by or without white rice, and all are similar in that one portion of meat weighs 250 grams.
A typical shawarma sandwich costs 8.5 Turkish liras (about one US dollar), while the price of a bowl of rice and meat is 18 liras (about two dollars).