Review: Hanna Orthodox Glatt Kosher Restaurant in Budapest
A fter visiting the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest — the largest synagogue in Europe — I was hungry in Hungary. Knowing that there was a Hungarian influence on Jewish cuisine in New York, I wanted to have an authentic Kosher meal.
It was the day before Erev Yom Kippur, which will have started at sundown the next day. The holiest day on the Jewish calendar which occurs ten days after Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year — Yom Kippur is the day of atonement and repentance for the previous year. A significant part of that atonement is fasting — meaning that if I wanted some Kosher food, I had better get it that evening, as any restaurant which serves Kosher food would certainly be closed.
Who would know better than a member of the staff of the synagogue as to where to eat?
“Hanna”, he immediately replied. “I highly recommend it. It is only a few blocks from here.”
He was quite specific about his directions because he told me that the restaurant was located within the property of a synagogue. Getting to Dob utca — the street on which Hanna Orthodox Glatt Kosher restaurant is located — from the Dohány Street Synagogue was not a problem…
…but it was hidden amongst the buildings on the street. Only a red and yellow sign with an arrow gave any indication as to where the restaurant is actually located.
I followed an array of small directional signs through a narrow alley which led me to the entrance.
I walked up the stairs, through a vestibule on the other side of the double brown doors, and entered the restaurant. There was one man behind a small counter with a cash register on it. Traditional music was playing from a small radio. He looked up with his eyes and motioned to me with his hand to enter into the restaurant, which was empty.
I walked up to the counter to see a menu. There were plenty of items on it; but when I spotted the Hungarian goulash, I decided on that despite the fact that any type of beef stew is not my favorite dish by any means — but I just had to try that traditional meal while in the country which made it famous.
When I asked to replace the wide noodles with the small dumplings — another Hungarian delicacy, apparently — he told me that they were one and the same.
I was momentarily confused because that made no sense to me; but ordered the meal just the way it was in the menu — along with a bottle of cola.
After sitting down at any table at which I wanted to sit, I looked around.
The interior of the restaurant reminded me of the banquet hall of the old Brooklyn Jewish Center on Eastern Parkway when it was set up for an event. If you are familiar with the Chabad Lubavitch sect of Chasidic Judaism, the old Brooklyn Jewish Center is only down the street from its world headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York…
…and the common denominator for that comparison is that both buildings looked like their glory days had passed long ago; while having a significant amount of potential to be restored to the elegance they must have once had. For example, the curtains and drapes looked flimsy and old. I am no interior designer; but replacing them with different window treatments would have done wonders for the decor of the restaurant, in my opinion.
The lighting fixtures could be updated as well, as the room was somewhat dimly lit — and not for aesthetic purposes but rather simply because the lights were not bright enough.
A basket of bread was placed on the table, along with a glass bottle of cola. I partially filled the glass with the cola.
Not long after that, the Hungarian goulash was served to me.
The small dumplings — or wide noodles, or whatever you want to call them — were definitely homemade. They were bland when eaten with the first forkful; but that was intentional. The sauce in which the chunks of beef sat was intensely strong with paprika — and quite flavorful, as I really enjoy paprika and can never get enough of it; so I mixed the dumplings noodles pastas whatevers with the sauce…
…and then it dawned on me: Hungary is one of the countries known for its paprika. I had to purchase some to take back with me. I have never tasted paprika so flavorful before dining at Hanna.
The aroma of the cucumber and tomato on the plate resembled that of cucumber salad — and that is one of my favorite delicatessen salads. The flavor was not nearly as powerful as the aroma; but satisfying just the same where I would have liked to have had more cucumber and tomato on my plate.
One major criticism of an otherwise surprisingly flavorful dish was that the beef — tender in and of itself — had fatty pieces which were rendered inedible to me; while some of the other pieces had some sort of significant amount of chewy thick skin or cartilage on them, which I had to cut off. If all of the beef was tender throughout the meal instead of it containing fatty and chewy pieces, I would have rated this meal very good to excellent.
I wound up leaving approximately a quarter to a third of the inedible chewy and fatty pieces of beef on the plate. Had it been eaten, I probably would have felt satisfied; but I was still a little hungry after I was able to eat everything I could. Other than that, the plate was clean.
The cost of the meal — not including the beverage, tax and gratuity — was 2200 Hungarian forint; or approximately eight dollars. I cannot complain about the value of the meal despite my one major criticism. The service was minimal but not terrible.
I was surprised to see a Glatt Kosher restaurant open for business during Shabbot, or the Jewish Sabbath.
If I were to return to Hanna Orthodox Glatt Kosher restaurant, I would order something different — probably one of the fish dishes. Although I would recommend dining here — especially if you keep a Kosher diet — there are other restaurants to try; and they include other Kosher restaurants. In fact, there was one located several dozen meters down the street…
…but I am not clamoring to return to dine here like I would the steakhouses in the Johannesburg area of South Africa, for example.
This restaurant — which is located in the courtyard of the Kazinczy Synagogue, but whose entrance is from Dob utca which intersects Kazinczy utca — opened at the beginning of the 1960s; and it offers traditional Hungarian and Jewish cuisine.
Bring cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
- Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 in the morning through 10:00 in the evening
- Friday from 11:00 in the morning through 11:00 in the evening
- Saturday from 12:00 noon through 3:00 in the afternoon
All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.