One savvy customer and the willingness to evolve have benefited this bright, well-stocked Turkish market tucked in a small shopping strip just off Route 28 near Interstate 270. Owners Muslum and Mine Altun opened Lezzet about three years ago, partly because Mine couldn't find the products she loved from her native Istanbul and beyond.
The charming couple stocked their shop with more than 500 grocery items: rose-petal, hibiscus and quince jams; teas; candies; pistachios; different weights of bulgur. They filled a long wall of refrigerator and freezer cases with phyllo doughs, soujouk (dried beef sausage), flash-frozen sardines and mackerel from the Mediterranean, fruit nectars, and soft white cheeses and yogurt as winning as their Greek counterparts.
The Altuns offered freshly baked pitas and pastries, as well as tiny stuffed pasta called manti ($10.99 per pound) that local Turkish women would make for them by hand.
Fatih Culha became one of their regular customers. About eight months ago, he asked the owners, "Why not have takeout foods here, too, like they do in Turkish shops?" As it happened, Culha was chef-owner of the Balkan Grill in Alexandria, and he knew a thing or two about kebabs and stuffed pastries.