One of the Hungarian food specialties that you absolutely have to taste is what we call “lángos”. (Unfortunately, there”s no English term for this common delicacy.) Lángos is the ultimate beach side snack near Balaton: it”s cheap, customizable with tons of toppings (sour cream, grated cheese, garlic, and just anything you might fancy) and fills you up just right. The recipe for lángos isn”t overly complicated – the dough itself is just water and flour -, but quality pieces take proficiency to make. Recently, our search for the perfect lángos buffet has ended with this very place located in Flórián tér’s underpass.
Ingredients for an average underpass in Budapest are: a street musician playing some off-key blues, vendors selling socks/flowers/belts/stoles iPhones, a franchise bakery shop, a newsstand, a convenience store, some dilly-dallying policemen, punk beggars, and lovers waiting for their significant others at the subway exit. Compared to this, the underpass at Flórián Square is a quite harmonious place with the scent of lángos pervading the whole place.
The colorful nameplate (spelling “KRUMPLIS LÁNGOS”, meaning “lángos with potatoes”) is an eye-catching sight in itself, as it pops out of its monochrome surroundings. This inscription makes it obvious this is a buffet worth visiting – you just cannot ignore the lengthy queue growing bigger and bigger at lunchtime, either. Pál Kovalcsik opened his beloved shop nine years ago, after working 12 years in Germany’s catering industry.
He gets up at 4:10 AM every day and works for long hours; on Sunday evenings, he’s busy with preparations for Monday. All the while, he’s searching for the perfect lángos, made with the perfect flour. His team has remained unchanged for 6-7 years (except for family members helping out now and then), and their unified goal is to keep the lángos’ quality consistent, which is a task harder than it sounds. Lángos dough can be messed up in a variety of ways. Leavening is easy to screw up for example, because yeast can sometimes be unpredictable – especially in the summertime.
Customers come from a variety of social classes, but they all get the same service and the same, phenomenal lángos. Regardless, guests for sure have one thing in common, and that’s a severe lángos-addiction. Because if you taste Kovalcsik’s lángos, you won’t be able to stop eating this not-so-diet-friendly treat for at least a few weeks. (Warning: do not come here if you’re trying to lose some weight, or happen to be on a fitness-friendly diet. Seriously, just don’t.)
Prices are easy on your wallet: you can stuff your belly until you can’t move for just a few hundred forints. It’s hard to choose from all the variations, though. There’s lángos with potatoes, cheese, ham, cheese & sour cream (a classic choice), sausage, tzatziki, and even stuffed lángos. If you’re Garfield-instincts are still tingling, no worries! You can also buy waffles and giant pancakes (with Nutella, cottage cheese, jam, etc.) for approximately the same prices. Even though we can only praise this little shop along with many customers, the sad truth is that Kovalcsik finds it rather difficult to manage a high quality place. His incomes are hardly enough to support his family, let alone to expand or to upgrade the equipment. Nevertheless, he claims to be happy for doing something he likes, and the love customers shower him with more than make up for all the everyday struggles.