Raw Foodists Rejoice! CigkofteM Opens and It May Be the City’s Strangest Dining Spot


The red blob in the center is the sole product of a new Turkish eatery.

“Do you have a takeout menu?” I asked as, abandoning my bike on the curb, I stepped into the newly refurbished storefront on East 9th, a stone’s throw from Tompkins Park. “No. We only have one thing,” was her reply.

A new Turkish joint sets down near Tompkins Square.

She also hastened to tell me that CigkofteM – the name of the new place – was indeed as I had guessed a Turkish chain (the orthography on the awning is a giveaway). But one with an off-the-wall single specialty: a thick paste of walnuts and soaked but uncooked bulgur wheat mixed with spices either assertive or not, and rolled up into balls the size of a Spaldeen and either served with a pita or on a bun like a hamburger.

There’s a third possibility, I realized as the countergal handed a free sample over to me: wrapped in an iceberg lettuce leaf, which makes it entirely raw food. It’s like vegan steak tartare. Hey — it’s actually quite good, and will be more so in the heat of the summer.

As I ate, the gastroclerk told me this is the first American branch, but there are already 130 CigkofteMs around the world, and the company is looking for a second location – in Paterson, NJ.

438 East 9th Street

You can see why no carryout menu is needed [click to enlarge]. Not sure how they’re going to deliver “1 piece of sauce,” though.