While Turkey is one of those countries that are on the bucket list for my wife Jun and I for future vacation plans, surprisingly we haven’t come across Turkish cuisine a lot in our culinary journey together in New York City. When I heard of a new Turkish restaurant in Astoria, Queens, which had been getting good feedback from critics, I figured Lokanta might be worth a short trip from Manhattan (it wasn’t very far by subway from where I work). One thing I should’ve looked up before we visited on a Friday evening was whether the restaurant serves wine. I didn’t realize until we started browsing the menu that the restaurant is completely BYOB. As we were looking around, other diners were starting to open up bottles that they brought. My oversight was a bit unfortunate because the food at Lokanta was not only delicious but could’ve gone very well with a food-friendly bottle of red.
The menu at Lokanta consists of soups, small plates and main courses. Just like any other Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant you go to, the way to start your meal at the restaurant is to order a couple of spreads (the restaurant also sends out warm bread to dip on). The red pepper-based muhammara was delicious, although Jun wished it had a bit more spicy kick from the pepper. I thought the eggplant salad was fine, but Jun felt a slightly overburnt taste from it. We certainly had no issue with the octopus that was available off menu. The generous size of the octopus leg had a very nice texture to it, and the flavor was also quite well-balanced. One of the signature dishes at Lokanta seems to have become the home made beef dumplings with yogurt on the surface (manti), and it has become quite addictive over time, with the bite-sized dumplings working quite well with the citrusy white yogurt. Add some harissa that you can ask for separately from the server to add a bit more spicy flavor, and it becomes even better with the nice contrast in the flavor. The harissa also worked to a great effect for the other large dish we ordered. We both liked that the roasted lamb and rice didn’t have the gamey feel to it, and the spicy taste added to the otherwise somewhat bland dish made it a wonderful dish to share. Not surprisingly, Jun and I both made quick work of both the dumplings and the rice.
Lokanta doesn’t accept reservations and the restaurant quickly filled up over time, so if you want to avoid wait times, probably best to head over for early dinner. As noted above, the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol to complement the meal, so bring a bottle of wine with you. The warm and cozy vibe of the dining space that feels quite authentic is another plus to the dining experience at Lokanta. I don’t know when Jun and I will finally be able to visit Turkey, but for now Lokanta offers a very solid option if you want to explore what this country’s dynamic culinary tradition offers. I would certainly like to be back to try some other intriguing dishes on the menu.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 3116 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106
Telephone: (718) 728-4477