Throughout his 30 years in the Las Vegas food industry — from managing a restaurant at the Aladdin to directing the Sterling Club’s catering — something never sat right with Ibo Olmeztoprak.
“I wondered why there wasn’t a Turkish restaurant,” he says. “There’s Lebanese, Moroccan, Iranian, Armenian.”
So he rectified the problem himself last Christmas, opening Ibo, 9755 W. Flamingo Road, with head chef Selmin Takmakli (formerly of Red Rock Resort and J.W. Marriott) as his partner.
Olmeztoprak calls 75 percent of his menu “pure Turkish.” Although he admits “quite a bit” of overlap between Turkish and Mediterranean food, “there’s also quite a bit of difference,” he adds, attributing most of that difference to spices and cooking techniques. (“We don’t deep fry,” he notes. “Ninety-nine percent of everything is baked. And if anything’s fried, it’s sauteed.”)
Upon entering, customers are greeted by purely Turkish paintings of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, father of modern Turkey. However, there’s nothing purely Turkish about the gold and deep burgundies that surround the seven booths, bank seats and tables accommodating 95.
“I liked the warmth of the colors,” Olmeztoprak says.
The kitchen is open from 5 to 10:30 p.m. daily. Reservations are not required, but are recommended on weekends.
Signature dish: Manti dumpling, $18.95
Starters: Baba ghanoush, $7.95; spinach borek, $7.95; stuffed baby eggplant, $8.95
Soups and salads: Lentil, $5.95; eggplant salad, $6.95; coban salad, $6.95
Entrees: Mixed grill (lamb chops, chicken shish kebab, kofte and chicken adana), $27.95; lamb shank, $21.95; dolma (zucchini, bell pepper and eggplant stuffed with meat, rice and spices), $16.95
Desserts: Baklava, $6.95; walnut kadayif, $7.95; kazandibi, $7.95
By COREY LEVITAN