Veganuary, or vegan January, marks the beginning of the year for more and more people—luckily, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle out of this consideration or out of a long-standing commitment, you can choose delicious treats from a growing number of places, not only in Budapest but all over the country. Those on a mixed diet should also give it a try, as you can enjoy divine flavors and great gastronomic experiences. In the 3rd part of our Like a local series, we’re featuring shops that fit this profile and we can heartily recommend them to everyone.
1061 Budapest Káldy Gyula Street 7.
Naspolya Nassolda pioneered the world of raw vegan cakes 7 years ago. The small confectionery opened its doors in a quiet corner of the city center, in Káldy Gyula Street. The founders, Réka Bárányos and her partner Ádám Novák wanted to guarantee that they are not just gluten, egg or dairy-free (with artificial ingredients, as we saw in post-war confectionery, for example, with the spread of margarine) but also to introduce the delicious palette of live foods, process with gentle methods. Since then, they have been enjoying unbroken success and their shop in Erzsébetváros and the cakes have won the hearts of more and more people. Everything is raw, meaning no heat treatment is applied to the ingredients, many things are fermented and preference is given to organic and, where possible, local ingredients.
No added sugar, so the desserts are not sweet but honest. The lemon poppy seed cake is light and playful, the ischler is a bit tart, chocolatey and pleasantly crunchy from the almonds and my newfound favorite, the too-raw szelet, is a throwback to the days when Túró Rudi was not concentrated but refreshingly creamy and citrusy, only here, the cottage cheese is replaced by fermented cashew nuts. You should also try the drinks, the super cocoa, flavored with homemade almond milk and carob, is a must, but Casino Mocca coffee is also waiting for you. Although they have a webshop, it is definitely worth visiting the little pastry shop in person, because the atmosphere is peaceful, natural and refined at the same time, with a warming feeling of home.
1111 Budapest Karinthy Frigyes Street 27.
If you look at the world’s cuisines and go beyond the generalities, you may notice that meat-free dishes are not so rare. While in Syrian gastronomy, it is important to use meat prepared in a clean-cut or halal way, they put at least as much focus on the versatility of the various meze and side dishes. Eggplant, garlic, tomato, paprika and legumes are very popular, but of course, oilseeds are also an essential part of the recipes, not to mention the rich use of spices. The Szír Center opened on Karinthy Frigyes Street more than 10 years ago to supply the local community and even Hungarians with raw ingredients.
It’s not an overstatement that you can get here the best hummus in town, homemade every day (strictly with chickpeas, tahini, Roman cumin, no vinegar or oil), olives with incredible color and flavor, and such creamy royal dates that practically melt on your tongue. The owner, Choman Mohamed, and his family take quality to heart, sourcing what they can from the Middle East, but the meat comes from local butcheries. The pastries are also worth a taste as they are authentic, spicy of orange blossom water and cardamom, and, in this winter cold, thanks to their calorie content, they are especially warming—the salty labneh slides well even before, or after them.
Szír Center | Facebook
ONO Poké Bowl
1111 Budapest Bartók Béla Street 34. / 1054 Budapest Vadász Street 10.
Poké bowl is becoming increasingly popular around the world. One of Hawaii’s national dishes (named after the way the fish is cut) is simple, versatile and very healthy. Basically, like a deconstructed sushi, the rice base is topped with fresh vegetables, raw fish (salmon or red tuna), some kind of sauce and crunchy seeds. As the dish conquered the planet, fusion, European or Asian versions appeared so that everyone could eat it to their own taste. Four years ago, Orsi Szládovics, Béla Moravcsik, Sándor Semsei and Mátyás Brunda thought there was enough imagination in this dish, so they opened the ONO Poké Bowl on Bartók Béla Street, followed by a sister shop in Pest two years later.
The dishes on the menu are colorful, exciting and infinitely fresh, with vegan or chicken versions for the less adventurous, but of course, fresh fish could not be left out from the offer. The colorful display is enhanced by carrots, wakame, edamame beans, avocado or even shimejii mushrooms—you can even create your own plate with your own selection of elements. Since last year, you can also try poké on the Pest side, in Vadász Street, where various desserts and special poké soups were introduced. It’s impossible to get bored of the genre, and the vegan versions are no compromise either, so if you’re looking for a body and soul-filling meal, be sure to stop by one of the ONOs.
Photos: Krisztina Szalay