THE BEST OF BURSA: HIGHLIGHTING THE BEST OF BURSA, TURKEY

      Over the last few years, Bursa has become home to a large and growing number of Syrians. Many of them have come here to make a peaceful living until the conflict in their country ends and they can safely return to their homes. As they have immigrated to Bursa, they have brought along with them their culture, their language, their hospitality, and their outstanding food.

      set al shamMy wife and I have a soft spot in our tummies for Syrian treats like falafel and hummus. So when someone introduced us to a little Syrian restaurant tucked away in a hole-in-the-wall storefront in Bursa’s Çarşamba neighborhood, we were excited to give it a try.

      And we weren’t disappointed. The falafel was seasoned and fried to perfection and served with a big pile of pickled cucumbers. The handmade hummus spread on top of authentic khubz flatbread was outstanding. The kibbeh—a fried ball of meat and bulgur—was a new but excellent taste for us. All was cooked and served with a smile by the restaurant’s owner, a warm gentleman named Bassam.

      Bassam and his family opened this small, five-table restaurant three years ago after moving to Bursa. He named it Set Al-Sham, in honor of the region in Syria from which he came. Bassam speaks no English and little Turkish, but his kind smile, firm handshake, and hospitable demeanor more than make up for any difficulties in communication.

      Bassam says that Turkey has been good to him, but his heart is in Syria and he can’t wait to get back there as soon as it is safe to return. We certainly wish for him a speedy return to his homeland and a blessing on his family, his people, and his country. In the meantime, we can enjoy the tasty Syrian home cooking and appreciate the warm hospitality that he brought along with him when he came to Bursa.

      You’ll find Bassam’s Set Al-Sham eatery on Değirmen Sokak in Bursa’s Çarşamba neighborhood, a short walk from the Osmangazi metro station.