Oklava's double pistachio baklava features a soft and juicy pistachio filling and a crispy exterior. Photo courtesy Oklava.
Oklava, a new, locally owned Turkish cafe, and Kenz Coffee Bar, which shares the Oklava space, opened on University Avenue in Palo Alto on June 13.
This is the first restaurant project for owner and Palo Alto resident Elif Uzun, who has always loved cooking Turkish dishes for friends and family. Uzun’s business partner Aziz Aslan, who has a background of working in the restaurant industry, came up with the idea of establishing a Turkish cafe to make Turkish cuisine more accessible in the Bay Area.
Weather-induced challenges earlier this year delayed the cafe’s opening for several months. Before major Bay Area storms caused flood damage to the space in January, Uzun and Aslan were planning to open in February. While this setback was difficult for the owners, Oklava's opening last month was met with enthusiastic community support.
The traditional Turkish breakfast plate from Oklava features a Turkish sesame bagel called simit, honey and clotted cream, walnuts, olives, salad, Turkish pastrami, cheese and egg. Photo courtesy Okalva.
The cafe’s menu features traditional Turkish pastries, such as simit and cheese borek, Turkish breakfast plates, Turkish delights and over 20 varieties of baklava, with flavors including double walnut, chocolate with pistachio, and carrot. Uzun wanted the cafe’s name to refer to the desserts sold inside, settling on Oklava, which is the Turkish term for the thin rolling pin used to roll out the multiple layers of phyllo dough in baklava.
“Coffee is not traditionally consumed in Turkey, but we wanted to offer good coffee and support a local brand,” Uzun said.
Oklava serves traditional Turkish coffee and tea, but also wanted to give customers the option to pair their dessert offerings with a wide selection of warm and iced drinks. Oklava partnered with Saratoga-based micro-roaster Kenz Coffee Roasters to set up a coffee bar inside the cafe, serving cappuccinos, matcha lattes and more. Kenz also has a coffee bar at BAMREC, a recreation center in Los Gatos, that is open daily.
“Something like this was missing. Before we opened, you couldn’t find authentic Turkish desserts in Palo Alto,” Uzun said.
Oklava Cafe, 205 University Ave., Palo Alto; 650-561-4898, Instagram: @oklavacafe.