Posted by: Andy | May 17, 2011

Food File: Islak Burgers (Turkish White Castle)

It was a tradition in my college days to have a White Castle night once every semester with my friends.  We tended to gorge ourselves on these disgusting delicacies to the tune of how ever many we could eat.  Typically for me, this meant 10 of the tiny, 55 cent hamburgers.  I think I ate 14 once and I know some of my friends did better than that (or worse, depending on how you look at it).

Every time Stephanie would ask me where I wanted to eat, and I really didn’t want to decide, I’d say White Castle and she would veto and be forced to decide for herself.  Yet despite Stephanie’s detest of White Castle, she was the first of us to try what I deem to be Turkish White Castle burgers.  I got to try them the very next day.

Taksim Islak Burger

Islak Burgers in Istanbul. Picture courtesy of (Thanks guys!)

Islak burgers are made in a similar style to the infamous White Caste “slyders” that people either love or hate.  They are both steamed in some fashion so that the buns are a bit wet when you eat them.  Indeed the word Islak means wet.

The taste isn’t all that similar.  White Castle burgers have a prevailing onion taste to them, while Islak burgers are more meat based.  But they bother certainly hit the spot when you have a late night craving.

Stephanie dared to eat three Islak burgers.  I had four and could have certainly eaten more, but they’re a bit more spendy here.  One Islak burger cost me 2.50TL which is about $1.75.  That’s three times as expensive as the a White Castle burger!  Granted Islak burgers are a bit bigger.

So if you’re Turkish and love Islak burgers, remember the name White Castle if you ever make it to the USA.  And if you’re from the US and you love White Castle as much as I do, remember the name Islak burgers.  They will substitute nicely for your White Castle craving.



  1. Wow, I can’t believe you ate so many of these. You guys are professionals! 🙂 Barry had ONE – and I had a half bread.

  2. Julia – I didn’t think four was all that many considering their tiny size. I’ve been considering seeing if I can eat 10 since we’re in Istanbul and they’re probably better here anyway. I take it you don’t have White Castle in the UK.

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