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New Kew Gardens Restaurant to Feature Live Turkish Music

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | January 7, 2013 8:53am

QUEENS — A new Turkish restaurant in Kew Gardens is planning to introduce live Turkish music to accompany its cuisine.

Roka, which opened recently at 116-35 Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens, will begin offering live performances on weekends, starting next Saturday, said Annette Dulger, 49, one of the restaurant’s owners.

“It will be another ethnic element and we hope people will enjoy it,” she said.

Dulger said the musicians will play traditional Turkish music on instruments, like the qanun, a string instrument played on the lap, and the oud, a pear-shaped instrument, which is considered an ancestor of the guitar.

In addition to the Turkish music, Dulger said, Roka will also offer other types of world music, including on Jan. 25, when the restaurant will host a performance by Richard Boukas, a Brazilian jazz guitarist.

Dulger, who came to the US from Istanbul 26 years ago, worked as a jeweler for many years.

She said she decided to go into the restaurant business after the economy fell into recession.

"Many people told me I'm a great cook and encouraged me to open my own restaurant," she said.

Her first restaurant was in Forest Hills, but she said the partnership didn’t work out. So a few weeks ago, she opened Roka with a new business partner, Hande Yalcin.

She named the restaurant after the Turkish name for arugula, which is her favorite salad ingredient, and in Turkey is typically served with fish.

Among the variety of traditional Turkish dishes served at the restaurant, Dulger said she would especially recommend the gyros — doner and iskender; as well as adnana kebab, which is ground lamb grilled on skewers flavored with red bell peppers and served with yogurt; hunkar begendi, which consists of lamb cubes served on a bed of smoked eggplant; izgara kofte, which is ground lamb meatballs; and lahmacun, a Turkish styled pizza topped with ground lamb and chopped garden vegetables.

The restaurant, Dulger said, also serves a few dishes that are difficult to find in the area, including mucver, which are zucchini pancakes, and manti, a light dough stuffed with seasoned lamb and onions.