Anatolia’s Gate – Turkish Restaurant

Restaurant: Anatolia’s Gate
Cuisine: Turkish/Halal/Middle Eastern
Last visited: July 1, 2011
Location: Burnaby, BC (Burnaby South)
Address: 7084 Kingsway
Price Range: $10-2

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4.5
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Authentic Turkish cuisine
  • Turkish family owned/operated
  • Fire wood clay oven
  • Famous for lavash bread
  • Home made sauces/dips/marinade
  • Extensive menu
  • Hidden gem
  • Hole in the wall
  • 100% Halal
  • Healthy options
  • Popular to locals
  • Quick/casual
  • Affordable
  • Family friendly
  • Under $10 lunches (wraps)
  • Dine in/Take out
  • Accepts MC/Visa/Interac
  • Monday to Thursday 11am-9pm
  • Friday to Saturday 11am-10pm
  • Closed Sundays

**Recommendations: Lavash Bread, Mixed Plate, Lahmajun, Beef Iskender Kabob, Idana Kebab, Chicken Guvech

In a city known for its diversity and multi-cultural cuisine, there’s still some areas where Vancouver lacks. Turkish cuisine is one of them. It’s kind of sad that the extent of Turkish food really goes as far as kebabs and fast food donairs in downtown Vancouver. It’s barely a representation of Turkish cuisine, and actually it’s not even really since many are Persian.

Quite often it’s summed up into one umbrella category of “Middle Eastern” or “Mediterranean” cuisine, but to group Lebanese, Persian, Armenian, Greek, and Turkish in one category is barely fair. Sure there are similarities, and if you like one, you’ll likely like the other, but the styles are quite different and it’s worth exploring each one individually.

So where can you find authentic and traditional Turkish cuisine? I introduce to you Anatolia’s Gate in Burnaby, BC! Make the drive, it will be worth it. There’s nowhere else that I know of yet that can bring you homestyle Turkish cuisine like this. (There’s also Divan Kitchen in North Vancouver, but I haven’t been yet). I’m not Turkish, so I don’t know how “authentic” Anatolia’s Gate is, but for what’s available in Metro Vancouver, it’s closer than a fast food donair shop (but those are still very good, and not necessarily less authentic either).

It’s a hole in the wall eatery that’s owned and operated by a Turkish family. It’s been around for about four years and I discovered it when it first opened, but for some reason I always let it slip from my radar. Well I couldn’t wait any longer, and to make up for putting it on the back burner, I actually ended up going twice that day! Once for lunch, and then again for dinner. That’s how much I couldn’t wait to go back! I enjoyed lunch so much that I was way too curious to try the rest of the menu! The menu is extensive, and I’ll keep coming back for more.

This is what they’re known for. This is the famous Lavash bread (famous gigantic ballooned Turkish flat bread) making station. The fire wood clay oven is required to bake the bread and it was once listed as part of the “Hundred Things to Try in Vancouver Before You Die” list. You pretty much can’t find it anywhere else in the city, at least not made like this. They also make Turkish style pizza here, but that’s not what I’d come here for personally.

This is the other item they’re most popular for. The Beef Iskender! It’s not something you likely haven’t seen before, but they’re known to make it really well here. I only saw it rotating like this during lunch time, but when I came back for dinner it wasn’t there, although still available. I don’t know if that means it’s fresher during lunch… ?

Despite the empty room, it actually has okay business during lunch, but dinner time is when it gets pretty busy. Having Turkish families fill up the room in the evening is certainly convincing that it’s a good find for Turkish food. It’s just really satisfying when there’s actually people of that culture dining there too. It wasn’t even on this one occasion when I’ve witnessed it, but if you drive by it in the evenings it’s usually quite busy. It’s truly a hidden gem and neighbourhood favourite and it’s popular with every culture in general.

This is authentic Turkish decor and it represents the traditional activities in Turkish culture.

This place may be a secret, but there’s no secret how I feel about it. I mean who goes to a restaurant twice in one day?! Well actually lots of people might, but it’s not common for me when I usually like to try out a new place. I had maybe a five hour break in between and I filled that space with three frozen yogurts at Metrotown…

Anyways, not everything I ordered was amazing, but most of it was great and very affordable. The mom makes the curries, dips and vegetables, dad makes the bread, and father and son take charge of the meats. I don’t have much to compare to, but they offer some Turkish specialties you won’t find anywhere else in Metro Vancouver. I also think they hold back on some of the items and I bet they make it better at home, but whatever, I’ll take it as is!

It’s great for family style eating so bring a team of people… or just me! I can hold my own. The food is relatively healthy, but filling. All the meat, starches and bread will put you straight to bed… or send you to frozen yogurt…

On the table:
**Lavash Bread (Whole Wheat) – 5/6

  • White or whole wheat $2/$4/$6 (Depends on size, most mains will come with it)
  • This is what they’re famous for and it’s a must try.
  • It’s a massive, oval shaped, airy light, handmade, puffed pita bread baked in the fire wood clay oven.
  • It’s drizzled with olive oil and topped with sesame seeds, although I wish there were more.
  • It’s pretty much as good as tandoori baked roti at an Indian restaurant, but it’s visually more exciting.
  • It doesn’t particularly taste amazing, but it’s incredibly fresh, excellent for what it is, and just impressive to look at.
  • It’s also the only place in Metro Vancouver that makes it like this, so for that reason alone it’s a treat and must try!

It’s thin, pliable, soft, and chewy and tastes like home made pita with some crispy edges. The inside is hollow.

Cacik Dip

  • It comes complimentary with the mains and I think the lavash bread too.
  • The dip is often compared to the Greek tzatziki, and although similar, they are different.
  • It’s much thinner and more like a diluted yogurt, however I think this was a short cut recipe.
  • This one is more like a dressing than a thick and creamy dip and it doesn’t have cucumber, but instead dill.
  • Traditionally it would have cucumber, dill and mint leaves, but this one just tasted like yogurt and dill.
  • It’s nice and tangy and it’s an “all-purpose” dip. It’s especially great with kebabs and the lavash bread.

**Lavash Bread (White) 5/6

  • White or whole wheat $2/$4/$6 (Depends on size, most mains will come with it)
  • I had to try both for comparisons sake.
  • If you want flavour go for white, but the whole wheat is obviously healthier and a bit nuttier in flavour.
  • The textures are very different and the whole wheat one is thicker, a bit denser, tougher and chewier. The white one was soft and somewhat fluffier.

Mixed Plate (clockwise from 12 o’clock): Babaghannush, Barbunya, Carrot Salad, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Eggplant Salad, Humus, Ajuka (Acuka), Stuffed Grape Leaves, and Olive Medley and Feta Cheese in the centre.

**Mixed Plate5/6

  • A mixed potburry of cold salads. Small $11.95 Large $15.95
  • I ordered the small, and it’s a great sample of everything I wanted to try.
  • Some things were mediocre, and most of it you just know they make better at home, but it’s still a must order.
  • I still thoroughly enjoyed the plate and they’re great condiments with the mains too.

Left to right: Ajuka (Acuka), Humus, Eggplant Salad

  • Ajuka (Acuka) – 4/6
    • Roasted eggplants, red pepper with walnuts $5.95 a la carte
    • It tasted like pureed roasted red pepper dip and it was sweet initially, nice and smoky, and a bit spicy at the end.
    • It’s the only spicy dip and it’s not that spicy, but the heat catches up and it’s a mild spicy.
    • There are little crumbs of walnuts and I could have used more, but I liked the nutty texture and flavour it brought to the dip.
    • This was great with the kebab and I think traditionally they have it spicier.
  • Humus 3/4
    • Chick peas, tahini, garlic, lemon, etc. $5.95 a la carte
    • The hummus was good, a bit smoky, but just nothing particularly special.
    • It was quite standard, but not that lemony or garlicky and I missed a bit of the tang.
    • I wished they drizzled it with olive oil, and they might if it’s ordered separately.
  • Eggplant Salad3/6
    • Oven roasted eggplants, tomato, parsley $5.95 a la carte
    • This really reminded me of a Russian eggplant salad that tastes almost the same.
    • It was pureed creamy smoky eggplant with roughly chopped tomatoes and it was actually quite refreshing and light despite the smokiness.
    • It was almost like a light salad and it was bright in flavours with parsley and I enjoyed it. It tastes better than it looked.

Left to right: Carrot Salad, Barbunya, Babaghannush (Eggplant Dip)

  • Carrot Salad 2.5/6
    • Shredded carrots lightly panned & mix with olive oil mayonnaise $5.95 a la carte
    • This was a very wet salad and it tasted better than it looked. It’s quite good, but I wouldn’t order a bowl of it either.
    • It was shredded carrots smothered in a watery mayo like dressing. It was a bit tangy and it was tastier than I expected.
  • Barbunya 2/6
    • Giant Lima beans or Red Kidney beans with olive oil, tomato sauce & lemon $5.95 a la carte
    • This one tasted exactly like the description – a kidney bean salad.
  • Babaghannush (Eggplant Dip) 4/6
    • Eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon, etc. $5.95 a la carte
    • This was delicious, but a very basic recipe for baba ghanoush. I generally prefer the Persian Kashke Bademjoon better, although it’s comparing apples to oranges.
    • This was very creamy, completely smooth and incredibly smokey throughout. I prefer my baba ghanoush a bit chunkier.
    • It actually wasn’t that tangy or garlicky, and it tastes like hummus, but it was much smokier than the hummus. It was heavy with the tahini.
    • I’d order this alone because it went well with other dishes too.

Centre: Olive Medley & Feta cheese

  • Olive Medley – 3/6
    • Different kinds of olives from Turkey mixed with grape tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil. $6.95 a la carte
    • It’s two cubes of salty feta cheese and a variety of salty Turkish olives. It was what it was and it was good.

  • Stuffed Grape Leaves1.5/6
    • $5.95 a la carte
    • I’ve never been a fan of these and I found them a bit mushy here. They’re similar to Greek dolmades.
    • The rice was very mushy and infused with mint leaves so there was a pretty strong minty flavour.
    • They sometimes have currants and pine nuts in them, but these ones were plain.
    • It wasn’t that lemony and it was a bit too oily and wet for me.
    • You just know they make these better at home.

Soup of the Day – 1.5/6

  • Red lentil soup $4.95 (without meat)
  • I didn’t really care for this and it was a bit watered down and runny. I bet it’s usually pretty good, but just not a specialty here.
  • It was just a plain lentil soup and it was really thin and one dimensional and there’s no other flavours really going on.
  • It wasn’t sweet, tangy, or spicy, but just a lentil soup with perhaps a bit of smoky cumin in it.

**Lahmajun5/6

  • Anatolia’s ground meat spread on a thin crust. Served on a bed of salad. $9.95
  • This is one of their really authentic Turkish appetizers, so I had to order it.
  • It looked like a Turkish pizza or flat bread, but it was the way you ate it that made it unique.
  • It was almost like a baked pita salad roll and I love it! It’s much better hot, so eat it right away.
  • It’s a thin and crunchy home made pita baked with a juicy minced beef spread that’s mixed with I think paprika, chili, cumin, parsley, garlic and other Turkish spices.
  • There was also pureed tomatoes to give it some acidity and juiciness.
  • It tasted like a juicy garlicky sausage spread and it had some heat, but it’s not quite spicy.

  • The salad in the middle is not just garnish.
  • It’s a very crunchy pickled red cabbage salad treated with olive oil and lemon and there’s also raw white onions, romaine lettuce and diced raw tomatoes.
  • Traditionally there should be parsley too.

You squeeze fresh lemon over the “pizza”, top it with salad in the middle, and roll it up in a wrap to eat it.

  • It was very crunchy, refreshing from the tangy pickled cabbage salad and still savoury and juicy from the creamy meat puree.
  • I found this good if you put a layer of the baba ghanoush or humus in it.
  • It was also good with the yogurt dip, but it didn’t need it as it’s tangy enough already.

Cheese Lovers Piden/a

  • Anatolia’s Feta cheese mix with mozzarella $9.95
  • Okay, I did it again. The table behind me ordered it so I asked for a photo. I haven’t tried it though, that’s why I ordered the Meat Pide later this evening.

Meat Lovers Pide4/6

  • Anatolia’s ground meat, Turkish pastrami, tomatoes, cheese & egg $10.95
  • This reminded me of a Turkish style open faced pizza pocket. It was very similar to a flat bread pizza and it was very good, but maybe not as special as other things they offer.

  • It was a super thin and crunchy whole wheat lavash bread crust.
  • The middle was layered with a little bit of minced beef spread, a layer of Turkish pastrami, egg and lots of melted mozzarella cheese. I could taste each layer, except for the egg, and also a lot of unexpected leek flavour.
  • I could taste the cheese the most and the egg got lost. I think the egg was lightly mixed before it was baked underneath the cheese, but I couldn’t taste or really even see the yolk. It just blended in.

  • The Turkish pastrami tasted like cured meat, or chewier and thicker prosciutto. It’s obviously not pork though, it’s made out of turkey.
  • It’s not crispy, but a bit tougher since it was baked too, and it’s quite lean.
  • It brought bacon like flavours to the “pizza” and nice salty bites, but overall the pita was very juicy with a strong leek flavour. I don’t think there’s any leeks in it though.

The bottom had some okay leoparding and their oven just makes for a good pizza oven – hence their Turkish pizza menu.

**Iskender Kabob5.5/6

  • Freshly sliced beef marinated with Anatolia’s special spices cooked on a vertical broiler with yogurt and tomato sauce, rice & salad. $11.95
  • This is their star of the show and most recommended item. I loved it!
  • Iskender is usually made with lamb, but I prefer beef anyways.
  • It’s thin slices of incredibly well marinated grilled beef and it’s drizzled with tomato sauce and hot butter oil which really does the trick!
  • The hot butter oil is the traditional way of serving it. It keeps it so moist, tender and flavourful and it wasn’t too oily or greasy.
  • The beef could be more naturally juicy, because at times it’s a bit dry, but mixed with all the sauces, it’s certainly overlooked.
  • The beef has a mild game flavour and you’ll only taste it if you’re extremely sensitive to game. I’m not sure why there’s a game flavour since it’s not lamb, but it’s very faint, but there.

  • The beef slices sit on top of cubes of homemade pita bread that were soft and spongy and very juicy and absorbent. They were soaked and smothered with tomato sauce and yogurt and I loved them! It taste like tangy melted cream cheese sauce. It was delicious!
  • The yogurt might have been goat’s or sheep’s yogurt and that might have been giving that very mild game flavour.
  • The salad is ordinary and the rice is chewy as Turkish rice is, but there is better Turkish rice than this one.

**Adana Kabob4/6

  • Anatolia’s special ground beef mix grilled in a skewer, served on top of Anatolia’s Lavash Bread with salad, rice and yogurt sauce $11.95
  • This was also highly recommended and it was also delicious. It’s named after the city Adana.
  • Traditionally it’s supposed to be made with ground lamb and a little bit of ground fat from lamb tail, but this was 100% beef. Now I’m really curious to try an authentic one though. They do have lamb kabobs as well.

  • It was very well marinated and incredibly moist and juicy that the juices oozes out as you cut the kebob.
  • It was almost sausage like with ground beef and it was a bit smoky and aromatic from garlic, cumin, paprika(?) and herby from some parsley.
  • There was also heat, but it wasn’t spicy. I think there’s a bit of chili powder or red pepper in it too.
  • The flavours weren’t that complex, and it’s generally savoury, but it was well flavoured and just good!
  • The salad is ordinary and the rice is chewy as Turkish rice is, but there is better Turkish rice than this one.
  • For this type of food and that size of kabob it’s actually considered quite pricey.

Shepard’s Guvech4/6

  • Beef strips with oven roasted veggies, tomato sauce & cheese baked in oven served with lavash $11.95
  • This was recommended along with the Chicken Guvech, which I ended up ordering later on that night for dinner.
  • This is pretty much a casserole, but it’s supposed to be a stew. I think it’s modernized, but it’s still good!
  • Although the rotisserie beef is the specialty here, it was the best to try it on their Beef Iskender Kabob when you could taste its flavours the most.

  • This was good, but I found the beef dried out with the additional baking process so that’s why I preferred the Beef Iskender Kabob.
  • It was a layered stew like dish, but the sauce is light and a bit runny and also a tad oily.
  • It was a baked casserole with a layer of pre-sauteed eggplant, zucchini, minimal mushrooms, and very minimal red bell pepper, topped with a layer of beef strips and then covered with mozzarella cheese.
  • I actually found this dish better as it cooled down (to the point of even room temperature) because I could taste the flavour of the beef much more.
  • It was very good, but I enjoyed it more when I used it as filling with the lavash bread and topped it with hummus, salad, or the other spreads and dips.

You eat the Guvech with lavish bread.

**Chicken Guvech4.5/6

  • Chicken breast pieces with oven roasted veggies, tomato sauce & cheese baked in a oven served with lavash $11.95
  • Again it’s supposed to be a stew, but it’s made like a casserole and I think it’s “Westernized”, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
  • I really thought the beef one would be better since the beef is their specialty, but the chicken was unassumingly awesome! It was also recommended.

  • This tasted just like a chicken parmigiana or a chicken and eggplant parmigiana, except instead of Parmesan cheese it was mozzarella cheese.
  • It almost tasted more Italian than it did Turkish to me, but it’s not as rich, heavy, or strong as Italian food.
  • The chicken was incredibly moist, juicy, and tender and there was a decent amount of them.
  • It’s marinated overnight in paprika and I wouldn’t have minded more of a lemony tang, but it was a bit peppery from black pepper that was infused into the meat.

  • It’s a very wet and almost watery dish and the sauce is just tomato sauce with the natural juices that release from the vegetables.
  • It tasted like a bed of pre sauteed zucchini, eggplant, and a couple mushrooms and minimal red bell pepper, layered with chicken and mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven.
  • It was almost like a vegetable and chicken casserole and it was a very home style dish.
  • I liked the chicken version better than the beef because the chicken didn’t dry out and it was just really tender.

Baklavah – 1.5/6

  • Sweet Turkish pastry made of thin dough sheets & walnuts $4.95 (1/2 order $2.95)
  • I found this pretty expensive for baklava, but I think they’ll give it complimentary sometimes. They’re nice people.
  • It depends when you get it, if it’s fresh or a few days old. I’d just ask and hope they’re honest. Day old baklavah is best.
  • I had a batch for lunch and I think a fresher batch at dinner. Either way they weren’t too my liking, and I normally do like baklavah.
  • I found these too soggy and too wet and they lacked pistachios and a walnut filling.
  • They were also oily and overly soaked in syrup so they were sweeter than I like and I couldn’t taste much cinnamon or warm spices.

Turkish Tea – 2.5/6

  • Special blend of imported Turkish Tea $1.95
  • It’s brewed in house and it’s traditional to finish any meal with tea, so I had one.
  • It tasted like Chinese black tea and it was similar to Bo Li tea, a traditional tea ordered during dim sum.
  • It was good, but nothing I feel like I never had.

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16 Comments

  • LotusRapper says:

    Mmmm that lahmajun looks really good. I’ve only had it a couple times, once in a Mediterranean resto in Fairhaven (Bellingham) and the other time at Nuba.

    And that mixed plate looks awesome, with lots of lavash it’s almost a meal to itself.

    I’ve read about Anatolia’s for awhile now. Good to see a decent resto in this part of Kingsway, the others being Pho Tan and Pho Century, IMHO.

  • Kyle says:

    my mouth is watering…

    with the baklava, they shouldn’t really have pistachios unless they’re fistikli baklava. i don’t think walnuts and pistachios are traditionally combined, not that i’ve seen anyway.

    i’m mildly disappointed that they don’t serve their tea in traditional cups (tiny hourglass shaped ones). nobody in Turkey uses anything else.

    i have yet to find exceptional lahmajun or pide in Canada..so this place is on my list to try when i’m back in town!

  • Mijune says:

    @LotusRapper – Oh yes! That mixed plate and lavash a lot of people order as the meal alone… I need the meat though.. you gotta try the meat! AND eat it with the dips πŸ™‚ Can’t wait for you to try this place! Good to go with your family even!

    @Kyle – me too!! ohhh you’re technical.. I love that! Hmm I’m not sure about the pistachio walnut thing, but it’s nice to know, so thanks!!

    YES! They serve their coffee in that I think, but not their tea. I forgot.. you’ve been to Turkey haven’t you?

    When you’re in town…. let’s go!

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Mijune – which meat you most recommend, the iskender, adana or the guvech ?

  • Kyle says:

    I spent two months in Turkey πŸ™‚ I was working there last summer.
    I had a lot of lahmajun because it was always the cheapest thing available.. they go for like a dollar. Whichever city I was in, I would try to seek out the best baklava shop in town.. I’m almost glad there isn’t any good baklava in Edmonton because otherwise i’d go broke! (and fat)

  • Bow says:

    Nice review, Turkish food isn’t well known and my friends think it`s terrific. I like the Guvehs, however there seems too much bread for me. All that food, did you take doggy bags home ?

  • Sheryl says:

    It honestly floors me how much you can eat Mijune.

  • Mijune says:

    @LotusRapper – ONE?!??! SO different!! That’s why I went twice in one day! You have to order at least 2! Pack the rest! It’s like asking which meat to order at a bbq house: best BBQ ribs, amazing pulled pork, or juicy sausages… they’re all the highlights!

    For first time… I have to say Iskender though… it’s most known there.. but the other 2 will not disappoint and you have to promise me you’ll go back for them!

    @Kyle – LOL! Ok I have a feeling you might be let down with this place if you compare it directly with places in Turkey… but in the context of Vancouver I think it’s awesome! Lots of the Turkish community does eat here though!

    @Bow – Ate it all.. they were surprised too πŸ™‚ Remember I went twice in one day though. Didn’t eat all the lavash though… too big. Fill you up.

    @Sheryl – nom nom nom!!!! πŸ˜‰ I did 4 frozen yogurts this same day too hahah

  • Linda says:

    holy cow i’m drooooooling!! i love turkish food but there isn’t many great choices in vancouver – i’m glad you found this place for us! πŸ™‚

    the lahmajun and the iskender kabob look expecially delicious… and who doesn’t love lavash? i think i’d have to come with a big party when i go to this place because i want to order everything you’ve ordered here! πŸ™‚

    thanks for the excellent review mijune!

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I HIGHLY recommend coming with at least 4.. cause you don’t want to go all the way out to try 2 things! Happy to introduce another gem to you!!

  • Stina says:

    This has been on my to-try list for a while too and finally got out there! I went on vacation to Turkey last year and was looking out for a good Turkish place in BC…this is definitely a good find!! One of the employees actually mentioned you stopped by to do this article! πŸ™‚

    Agree with you on the baklava. It’s soggy and the pieces are small. I don’t think it’s their specialty. If you want baklava perfection GΓΌllΓΌoglu in Istanbul is amazing!!! http://www.gulluoglu.biz/ (all in Turkish, but photos look delicious) I went twice while I was there.

  • Mijune says:

    @Stina – aww yeah they are nice people…yeah i never told them i was there to write an article until the end of the meal and they asked why I was taking so many photos etc. Then i just let the cat out of the bag… good people.

    I’m really happy you liked this place especially since you’ve been to Turkey! I wish I could go to Turkey so instantly… for now I may have to settle for Greek or Persian baclava πŸ™‚ Thanks for your link and comments!

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