Mehmet Sipahioglu, owner and chef of Mediterranean Breeze Wood Fired Restaurant, tends to bread baking in the oven. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Mehmet Sipahioglu, owner and chef of Mediterranean Breeze Wood Fired Restaurant, tends to bread baking in the oven. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Taste of Turkey

New restaurant brings unique flavors of a region to Kent-area palates

Step inside his restaurant and Mehmet Sipahioglu shares his story – a good life embraced half a world away.

Born and raised in the Giresun Province in the Black Sea Region of northeastern Turkey, Sipahioglu grew up in a rich agricultural area. Beginning at about age 10, he tagged along his father, who had a chicken farm and raised some cattle.

He closely followed his footsteps and gradually learned the trade. He observed the right way to do business. He also watched an uncle run a successful restaurant.

Such experiences persuaded the prodigy to seek new opportunities and test the industry himself.

Introducing Kent, where the chef and business owner has realized a dream by opening the doors to a place that delivers the taste of Turkish-influenced, Mediterranean-flavored dishes and delicacies.

After establishing his pilot restaurant in Olympia, business has grown, and Sipahioglu and family recently found a second location in Kent at 406 Washington Ave. S.

Mediterranean Breeze Wood Fired Restaurant specializes in classic Turkish food, from savory beef and lamb cuisine to signature sautés and fresh pastas to stuffed breads and desserts.

“This is like a big house with family members,” said Sipahioglu, a self-made restaurateur who immigrated to the U.S. in 2002 and quickly picked up the language. “We treat everyone like family members here because we know what we are serving.

“When I started with my restaurant, I had the commitment to be the best Turkish restaurant in the entire United States,” he said. “Other (restaurants) are similar, but not here … there is no other Turkish restaurant in the entire country with our operation in many ways.”

The restaurant features an open-kitchen concept. A brick oven turns freshly-rolled dough into flat-bread must-eats, filled with either beef, vegetables or cheeses. A wood-fired grill serves up well-seasoned and marinated beef, lamb and chicken platters, kebabs and specials. There are vegetarian options. There are soups and salads, rice and vegetables to order.

The menu offers Turkish-imported wine, beer, coffee and tea. Pistachio- and walnut-filled baklava pastries and sutlac (Turkish rice pudding) shine in the dessert lineup.

From the best ingredients locally, everything is prepared in house from scratch, Sipahioglu said, to bring out a home-made taste.

Turkish-imported plates, silverware, tables and chairs and walls decorated with images and photos of different, iconic sites from a vast country form a warm and comfortable ambiance that provides traditional Turkish hospitality.

Quality food, good service, attention to detail and hard work are all part of Sipahioglu’s passionate pursuit in the restaurant business.

It’s that passion that brings the taste of his native Turkey here – to Kent, a place of many cultures.

“This is home now,” Sipahioglu said.

Learn more at kentmb.com.

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Ribbon cutting: 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Mediterranean Breeze, 406 Washington Ave. S., with city and business leaders, family and friends.

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