Steamless Steam Tables

2012-12-04 14.06.39


There are a number of great — tasty and inexpensive — buffet-style restaurants in our neighborhood serving a variety of cuisines. Pictured is Tera Magyar right near our busz stop, which serves very affordable home cooking (and pitchers of water on the tables), but there’s a good “Török Büfé” (“Turkish buffet” = Middle Eastern cuisine) and “Kinai Büfé” (Chinese) close by, as well as a food court in the mall about half a mile away. The experience in each is fairly consistent — your standard industrial kitchen steam tables filled with good — or sometimes just “interesting” — food that you choose as you slide a tray down the line. Real Hungarians actually speak, of course, while we simply point and beg.

And then, you would say to move the story along, “yeah, yeah, then you get to the end and pay for it, big deal.” But you would be wrong, imaginary dining companion! The server then takes the plate of food you’ve selected and places it into one of sometimes a stack of microwave ovens and zaps it for the requisite time to make it hot as well as tasty.

To conserve energy — and dollars — most of these restaurants choose not to keep the steam tables roiling hour after hour, and simply heat the servings on demand instead. I don’t know how crispier stuff would fare under this approach, but for the stews, casseroles and potato/rice dishes that are the staples of these buffets, it works pretty darn well, and it obviously helps keep the cost down.


4 responses to “Steamless Steam Tables

  1. For a fully Budapestian experience, you should try eating at a butcher’s once. Most of them grill meats and have HUGE lines at noon.

    You get a portion of freshly grilled pork (you pick what parts: loin, ribs, picnic, or whatever looks tasty to you), perhaps a pair of frankfurters, a couple slices of fresh bread, some pickles (pickled minimelons are a must try) and some mustard / horseradish to go with it. All this under HUF 1000.

    Pros eat in-shop and with their own pocketknives, but they usually offer plasticware too. I recommend Pinczi Húsbolt near Nyugati (on the opposite side of the railway station, walk a bit back towards Oktogon, it’s just near the “Török büfé” / Star Kebab / whatever it is).

    Oh, and butcher fans even have their own facebook community:él-evők-baráti-köre/219460661408319 — the guy running it is a self-commissioned butcher connoisseur. You don’t get this stuff anywhere else in the world.

    • Thanks, Endre! We will take your advice and go to Pinczi Húsbolt — we have gone to a butcher’s near Moricz Zsigmond Körter, but we went for the rántott csirke and indeed we felt like we were missing out when we saw the guys chowing down on the kolbász!

      • Closer to Móricz Zsigmond körtér are two excellent butchershops, one of them is Ica Mama Konyhája, you can walk there if you walk towards Kosztolányi Dezső tér along the tracks of 47/49, it’s on a corner.

        The other one is one stop away with tram 6 at Budafoki út. If you get off the tram walk left on Budafoki út, it’s on the right hand side of the road. They’re both excellent, the one at Körtér is OK-ish.

        I dream of a butcher-radar iPhone app.

  2. Pingback: Museums and Microwaves | Suddenly Hungarian·

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