There’s a buzz going around the budget-minded foodies in Budapest, and I don’t mean the attendant flies that tend to follow them like pilot fish on a famished shark. Rather, the noise is excited talk of a new hole-in-the-wall that is turning out the best take-away curry in the city. Keep the spiced slop troughs at Bombay Express (the city’s only other fast food Indian restaurant) and head over to a dark, untrafficked portion of Akácfa utca behind the District VII market hall to see what I mean. There, the Bangla Büfé is establishing a reputation for made-to-order Bangladeshi dishes, which include halim, biryani and several types of curry.
For Ft 750-Ft 990, you get a wonderful mutton, chicken or vegetarian curry on a plate-full of well-cooked basmati rice. That’s €3-€3.85 for a whole meal. Throw in mango lassi for Ft 350 and it’s no more expensive than your average Chinese büfé. The curry itself leaves little to be desired. Indian and Bangladeshi curry are almost identical, except the dishes at the Bangla Büfé are halal, meaning the meat has been killed, cleaned and prepared according to Islamic law.
The chef (left), known around town as Mimmo, comes from Bangladesh via Italy, where he worked as an Italian chef, arriving at the restaurant after a stint at the nearby Il Terzo Cerchio. Dishes are made to the spiciness you specify: no cafeteria-style chafing dishes here piled high with strata of leftover and precooked food, and no microwaves either: order your meal and watch Mimmo go to work on a four burner stove in the back. Everything is made to order – including the bread! True, the Bangla Büfé has its drawbacks. Much to its detriment in this curry lover’s eyes, because alcohol is not halal, you cannot order a beer to sooth your tongue if you decide to eat your meal at the restaurant’s sole table. But otherwise, the BB is a much welcome addition to budget dining in Budapest. For quality and authenticity it dwarfs any local Chinese büfé, and gives most sit-down Indian restaurants in town a run for their money.