Dining

Halkakas – A bistro for fish lovers

Photo : Balkányi László - We Love Budapest
Halkakas – A bistro for fish lovers

The story of Halkakas could easily be mistaken with a story board of a typical French movie. Zsuzsi Lévai, a lovely girl with a bright smile can’t go on doing what she’s doing at her workplace and bam… we got the plotline. Zsuzsi spent most of her childhood with his father besides lakes and rivers, so her average meals usually contained some kind of fresh, Hungarian fish.

Halkakas Fish Bistro
  • 1074 Budapest, Dohány utca 36.
Zsuzsi was shocked when she realized that the average Hungarians and especially people of Budapest only consume fish dishes in the following manner: they eat fried hake during the summer every now and then, sometimes they eat a few pieces of deep fried fish sticks and last but not least at Christmas time they try to make up for the whole year so they eat tremendous amounts of carp.  Zsuzsi wanted to give a valuable lesson for the Budapest crowd so she opened a bistro that offers great fish dishes.

This is the list of things she needed for her bistro: a cute place in the middle of the city – she got herself one. A great chef who can think outside the box and who can prepare the most amazing specialties – she found one. And last but not least she also needed a helping fiancé who’s with her in good times and bad times, who helps around the bistro from opening till closing and who can prepare the fish and chips and the wine spritzers – she already had one.

This is how Budapest got its very own catfish curry, catfish gyros and smoked bighead carp pasty. Luckily or unfortunately you can hardly recognize the taste of the fish in these dishes. Most of the time they taste rather neutral what’s more they are quite chicken-like. These are good news for people who are not so passionate about the ‘lake taste’ or who don’t like to fight with the bones. On the other hand the ones who are looking for the traditional Hungarian fish dishes will be disappointed.

There’s no fish soup (well, actually there is, but only once a week), no catfish paprikás and no fried carp with rice and tartar on the menu. But you can get fish and chips with great remoulade sauce or a nice salad with smoked trout. You can find drinks too – there are home-made syrups and beers too. May we just add that the red elderberry syrup is superb! They also have a daily lunch offer at prices between 990 and 1290 forints. You should arrive early if you want to try these offers, they usually run out of things by 3pm.

They only use fresh Hungarian ingredients for their dishes so since we can’t just go to the banks of the River Danube to harpoon some fish for ourselves this is our best alternative. They opened about 2-3 weeks earlier but they had their official opening party a week ago. The first few days were all right but when we were there nobody else was around. The next time there were more guests and nowadays they are usually packed. They have a basement level as well which is opened for the guests – however we have never seen anyone down there but who knows? Maybe within the next few weeks we will have to fight others just to get in. All in all, Halkakas Bistro is about to become Budapest’s most prominent fish-dish ambassador. Either you are brave or not you should check it!

If you looking for something from the seaside, worth trying the Bigfish!