The Kai tribe (Turkish: Kayi boyu) was the second largest and most influential tribe of the nine-tribe Turkish nation. Legend has it, the Kayi was the tribe out of which the Ottoman Empire emerged.
It’s also the name of grand modern Turkish mezze bar and grill Kai, which occupies the former Prezzo site on Deansgate and has undergone extensive refurbishment including a separate bar area, striking flowered ceiling and comfortable leather seating.
The restaurant is owned by Tayub Amjad, the man behind Zouk Tea Bar, who is a big fan of the food and cafe culture of Istanbul.
It’s easy to see why, with a menu full of charcoal grilled meats marinated in Middle Eastern spices, fresh hand-baked pita, hot and cold mezze dishes, and fragrant, colourful salads.
There’s also a selection of steaks including fillet, rib eye and huge tomahawks, and whole grilled lobster and sea bream.
We start our lunch, ready to be transported to Turkey, with a selection of traditional mezze dishes. The tradition is meant to unite people around the table in a spirit of sharing, says the menu.
Baba ganoush – coal cooked aubergine sprinkled with rose petal dukkah – is fragrant, smooth and smoky, scooped up with warm Turkish bread for tearing and dipping.
Fried sujuk sausage, the Turkish version of salami, is made with beef, garlic, sumac, and red pepper, a recipe dating back to around 1000BC.
It’s utterly delicious, as are crisp golden fried borek pastries stuffed with spinach, pine nuts and tangy feta.
Ezme salad, a typical Turkish dish served in lokantas and restaurants throughout the country, is sweet, spicy and fresh with mashed tomatoes and hot peppers.
And then it’s onto the larger dishes. Pide – like a Turkish pizza, in a long oval shape – is a light chewy dough topped with tender spiced lamb, wilted spinach and gooey melted cheese. We can’t get enough.
There are veggie versions with peppers and spinach or chicken and garlic butter versions, too.
The mixed grill is piled high with lamb chops seared outside and pink within, spicy chargrilled chicken skewers and Adana kebab – a long, hand-minced spiced lamb kebab mounted on an iron skewer and grilled.
There’s also bulgur rice with red peppers and dill, colourful crunchy shredded vegetables and a mixed leaf salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. It’s a serious feast.
In terms of drinks, the wine list includes some Turkish tipples – a white narince from Anatolia, a red from Denizli – while beers include Efes on draught.
Cocktails have Turkish twists – the Kai Royale mixes prosecco with pomegranate, while a Mojito uses Turkish black tea. A Turkish Delight martini uses floral rose and gin to recreate the classic sweet taste.
And for earlier risers, Kai offers traditional Turkish breakfasts served in the authentic mezze style including cilbir (Turkish eggs),Turkish yoghurt, halloumi cheese fritters, and Turkish coffee and tea.
The restaurant has its famous fans, too. The Real Housewives of Cheshire were recently in for a meal, while other celeb guests have included footballers, Corrie stars and musicians, says our server.
We can see why.