Turkey has the best food in the world (sorry Italy!) so when a place is dubbed “the best” I demand perfection. Güllüoglu, a pastry shop that is touted as making Istanbul’s best baklava, falls so short of the mark it seems like they aren’t even trying. It reminded me of the baklava I used to eat at Mamoun’s at 3 am when I was in college. The thing behaved more like a burger than a pastry-the insides would slip out creating increasingly unbalanced bites until I was left with no phyllo dough and all filling. Who ever thought Güllüoglu would channel a New Haven, CT dive for drunks and stoners instititution as their inspiration?

Now for a baklava that is beyond reproach, visit its birthplace, Gaziantep. When it comes to this flaky, nutty, honey saturated pastry, no one does it like this city in southern Turkey. After just one bite of fıstıklı (pistachio) baklava last January, my life was changed forever, and in no small way. Even though the pastry is made of many layers of nuts, phyllo dough and honey, you would never know that they were separate entities. They work together in perfect harmony and resist the tendency evinced by Güllüoglu and Mamoun’s balkava to shift under the pressure of your teeth. Now if anyone knows where I can find this property in a baklava in Turkey I need to know!

Update: There is, in fact, great baklava in Istanbul. Güllüoglu just happens to be resting on their laurels a bit these days. I recommend heading to a baklavaci (shop specializing in baklava).