Chanoy Honeymoon: Budapest, April 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

One of my uncles on my father’s side of the family goes to Budapest regularly for business. I don’t quite understand precisely what it is that he does, but I think he’s a property broker of sorts, helping wealthy Chinese buy properties in Budapest to kick-start their applications to become citizens of a European Union country. Whether or not that’s the right thing to do is irrelevant, it’s just something that will continue to occur as the size of wealth grows in China.

Anyway, he always raves about Budapest and Hungary but I’d never given it much thought as he does tend to speak in hyperbole most of the time. He’s entirely correct though, Budapest is a fantastic holiday destination. It really does have everything to offer: 1) old castles; 2) great river views; 3) surprisingly good and cheapish food; 4) a spa and public bath culture; 5) a fantastic city park; 6) amazing stories from their cultural history.

The real highlight of Budapest city is the old Jewish Quarter. Formerly the Jewish ghetto during World War 2, it’s now a very cool enclave of hipster stores and great street food as I’ve previously mentioned. It’s hard to forget the history though – we joined a very sobering tour of the Jewish District where we learnt about the fate of the Jewish population during the Holocaust amongst other facts.

The same company does a few other great free (tip-based) walking tours which we joined. The Original Tour visits many of the key sites around Budapest and covers some local history and cultural talking points as well. The Communism Tour is less of a walking tour of sites, and more of an oral history of life during the Communist era of Hungary.

We were particularly lucky with the tours that we joined as the guides were perfectly suited – an older lady who had lived through the Communism years ran the Communism Tour, a guide from the Jewish museum ran the Jewish District tour, and a born-and-bred Budapestian ran the Original Tour. I’d definitely recommend joining some of these tours for an understanding of Budapest, its people, culture and history!

Other highlights of our stay in Budapest included a visit to their Cat Cafe! It was a real treat for me to be surrounded by cats again, as I had been missing my own cat back home. Seven months is much too long to be separated from one’s pet! I also enjoyed the afternoon tea we had at the Book Cafe in Lotz Hall. They do great hot chocolate and cakes, but the real highlight is its location in a former pre-war ballroom which is a fantastic example of ornate Neo-Renaissance gold-gilded decor.

We had meals at Belvarosi Lugas Etterem and Ket Szerecsen, but I think the real highlight in Budapest is its street food. I loved our visit to Street Food Karavan in the Jewish Quarter, as well as the snacks of langos (deep-fried dough with sour cream and cheese!) and the kurtosh chimney cakes along the way.

I’m going to join my voice to my uncles’ – visit Budapest! It’s like a less touristy version of Prague, but even that is going to change soon as more and more travellers visit Budapest for their cheap prices, great food, and variety of different activities. Get in now while you still can.

Review: Ket Szerencsen, Budapest Hungary

Good reviews and a central location – that was reason enough for us to drop into Ket Szerecsen Bistro for lunch on our last day in Budapest.


As we sat down and began to peruse the menu however, I started to notice little bits of racially-themed decor around the restaurant that began to make me feel uncomfortable. Then I saw their logo of two African faces with exaggerated lips and felt beyond uncomfortable. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t walk out at this point, but the situation was much too awkward as our orders had just been taken.

Sour Cherry organic fruit juice, 590 Hungarian Forint
Sour Cherry organic fruit juice, 590 Hungarian Forint

K and I had a lively debate over lunch as we pondered the question of whether we should have left without eating our meals. I’m definitely more sensitive to issues of race and gender than he is, but even he was uncomfortable with some of the drawings on the walls.

Breast of duck with pumpkin gnocchi and sage butter, 3290 Hungarian Forint
Breast of duck with pumpkin gnocchi and sage butter, 3290 Hungarian Forint

He enjoyed his Breast of Duck with Pumpkin Gnocchi and Sage Butter – a treat as we had been trying to avoid meats other than chicken since his diagnosis with gout. The grilled duck breast was succulent and tender which K enjoyed but I found a bit too gamey for my liking. The pumpkin gnocchi was much more to my taste, and the sage butter just heavenly. Sage butter is something that’s quite simple, but something we hardly ever make at home to go with our pasta. This has to change!

Chicken paprika stew, parsley dumplings, cucumber salad with sour cream, 2290 Hungarian Forint
Chicken paprika stew, parsley dumplings, cucumber salad with sour cream, 2290 Hungarian Forint

I ordered a Chicken Paprika Stew with Parsley Dumplings and a Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream (pictured below) on the side. I loved the richness of the paprika sauce, which went perfectly with the small herbed dumplings. The chicken was quite tender as well. The fresh cucumber salad is a must when you order the stew though, to help refresh the palate as the stew can be quite thick and rich.


Guys, what would you have done in my place? Would you have walked out once you registered the racially-themed decor? Would you have made a complaint to management?

I don’t think their intention is malicious, but it is a rather jarring experience for people like myself who are hyper-sensitive to issues of race. The theming certainly hadn’t been brought up in the reviews I’d read prior to our visit, but I can’t have been the only one to make a note of it!

For what it’s worth, Ket Szerecsen does quite amazing food. The prices are a little high by Hungarian standards, but the quality alone makes it quite worthwhile. If you think you won’t be bothered by the decor, the food is worth trying.

Ket Szerecsen is located at 14 Nagymezo utca in Budapest, Hungary.

Review: Street Food Karavan, Budapest Hungary

When we arrived in Budapest and checked into our accommodation, our Airbnb host spent a bit of time with us explaining where to eat. “Don’t eat anywhere in the city,” she said. “It’s so expensive, you pay at least 3000 Forint per person for anything. I like a buffet around the corner from this apartment, only 1000 Forint per person for all you can eat.”

She’s not wrong as many of the restaurants are quite overpriced by the standards of most local Hungarians. They seem reasonable to us as tourists with a higher income, but are quite out of reach for most others. So where do people eat when in the city then, if not in restaurants? Surely they don’t all go to 1000 Forint all-you-can-eat buffets?


Answer – they head to the Jewish Quarter. Formerly the rundown Jewish ghetto, this part of Budapest is undergoing gentrification, and revival by the younger generations. It’s now a very cool enclave of hipster shops, cool cafes, vegetarian and vegan takeaway joints, ‘ruin bars’ in rundown buildings, independent designer shops and much much more.

With young hipsters and cool locations comes cheap street food. Street Food Karavan is where you can go for a variety of local Budapestian food trucks in one permanent location. K and I headed there one day for lunch before joining one of the free walking tours around the city.


Our first stop was at Nyakleves which can also be found with a proper shopfront at 27 Budafoki Utca elsewhere in the city. Soups are their specialty with up to half a dozen different soups available every day. The menu does change depending on what’s in season, so ask the guy behind the counter to tell you all the options if you can’t read Hungarian!

Corn and crayfish soup, 600 Hungarian Forint
Corn and crayfish soup, 600 Hungarian Forint

I chose a Corn and Crayfish Soup which only cost us about $2.80 Aussie Dollars. While there were no large discernible chunks of crayfish in the soup, there was a strong lingering crustacean flavour and aroma which went particularly well with the creamy corn soup. I’d definitely order this soup again – hopefully next time with some crusty bread on the side.


Our next stop was at Paneer who can also be found elsewhere in the Jewish Quarter at 53 Kiraly Utca. They brand themselves as the ‘real cheeseburger’ specialists, because rather than offering meat patties in their burgers, they offer fried slabs of different cheeses. Yes, you heard me right! Cheddar, emmental, camembert…they have it all.

Camembert Cheeseburger, 1550 Hungarian Forint
Camembert Cheeseburger, 1550 Hungarian Forint

We had the Camembert Cheeseburger for $7.28 Aussie Dollars. This may seem a little bit steep for a single burger with no fries or drinks, but let me remind you that it’s a whole slab of camembert cheese, deep-fried to oozy goodness! Served with a slice of smokey grilled eggplant and sweet blueberry jam and beetroot salad, this burger really hit the spot. It hit the right note of pungent camembert tempered with creamy eggplant, sweet jam, and fresh beetroot. Delicious!


Our last stop was at The Street Buffet, which doesn’t have any other locations around Budapest. I wasn’t sure about them as they didn’t seem particularly well patronised by other customers in comparison to other stores, but K was keen to give them a try.

Chicken and bacon pirog, 700 Hungarian Forint
Chicken and bacon pirog, 700 Hungarian Forint

We ordered one of their Chicken and Bacon Pirogs (also available in a tortilla) for $3.29 Aussie Dollars and I’m afraid to say that it didn’t do much for me. The awkward shape of the pirog meant that every time you took a bite, bits of it would fall out making it quite a messy meal. The salad was also much too oniony, and the uneven distribution of mayonnaise made parts of the pirog too bland and other parts too strong in flavour. There’s a lot to be improved here, in the meantime take your chances with one of the other stands!

Street Food Karavan is the place to go for a cheap meal out in Budapest. With half a dozen or more different stands to choose from with vegetarian and vegan friendly options available too (you are in the hipster Jewish Quarter after all!), there’s something for everyone. Just make sure to follow the locals to the stands with the best food!

Street Food Karavan is located at 18 Kazinczy utca in Budapest, Hungary.