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Take home Taiwanese flavours from 101Bistro, Buda’s new Oriental outlet

It takes courage to open an eatery mid-pandemic, especially with a cuisine that is relatively rare in Hungary. The owners of 101Bistro at Széll Kálmán tér have gone ahead anyway, slightly altering their original concept to match the needs of the current situation. They have put together a delivery menu, hoping to spread the popularity of Taiwanese cuisine in Budapest from 2020 onwards.

Few Hungarians are familiar with Taiwanese flavours. Apart from a few underground places only veteran gourmets knew, contemporary Taiwanese cuisine was hard to find here – until now.

Lively and diverse

“Taiwanese cuisine is exciting and diverse, based partly on Chinese, partly on Japanese traditions. But since we’re talking about an island with a lively trade market, a variety of influences left their marks on its cuisine, from Portugal to France and America,” says co-founder Lu Boyin

“While typical Taiwanese recipes exist, most of the nation’s dishes originate from either China, Japan or nearby countries. Often, even the ingredients are borrowed – as in the case of niu rou mian, Taiwanese beef noodle soup. The beef must have been added in by Americans, as it was they who brought this food to the island.”

The founders of 101Bistro were brought home by the coronavirus pandemic from all four corners of the world. Máté Muha lived in New York, and was involved in establishing escape rooms in the Big Apple. Some might know Lu Bovin from Ramenka, which he founded in Budapest and later sold, running a restaurant in China instead for several years. Marci Keve lived in Britain for 12 years, but has also worked in Mexico City, Japan and Denmark.

The fourth member is Róbert Erdősi, who will look after the drinks side of the business once life returns to normal, and the bistro can finally embark on its intended journey. Then, they will be offering fermented cocktails, while also showcasing Taiwanese tea culture.

For now, we’re only able to enjoy a little teaser of the bistro’s selection, although the current concept – with the name 101 Express – is a lot different than what was originally planned.

Since the initial dishes were not very delivery-friendly, 101 Express mainly offers appetisers, soups and Taiwanese bento boxes. Taiwan adopted the Japanese box meal concept in the ’50s, when the local railway company launched the affordable, but average-quality takeaway bento box meals.

They might have never succeeded in Taiwan if it wasn’t for an American entrepreneur, who adopted the same concept but with better ingredients in the US. It didn’t take much time until bento boxes developed a new, sophisticated design in Taiwan as well, where they still enjoy significant popularity to this day.

Marci the chef tells us that Taiwanese cuisine is often very heavy and meaty, but they’ve adapted the original restaurant and the current delivery menu in the most environmentally friendly way possible. This is reflected on the packaging, too – biodegradable soup and sauce containers, wooden boxes – and they’ve tried to avoid using meat wherever they could.

Easy on the meat

“We’re not a vegan or vegetarian place, but we’re going easy on the meat. For example, there’s kimchi on the menu – a mainly Korean delicacy, usually prepared with fish – but ours is completely vegan.”

The ingredients are selected with great care – whatever they can, they source from domestic producers, including the beef, the eggs and the vegetables. Currently, there are six different bento boxes on the menu – one with chicken, one with beef, one with pork, one with prawns and two vegetarian options. They’re all generously sized servings, although somewhat less full than Japanese boxes.

We tried the pork rice bowl lu ro fan (2,290 HUF), which comes with fermented kohlrabi and soft-boiled eggs, as well as shou pa (2,290 HUF), which is fried chicken with rice, Cantonese ginger, soft-boiled eggs and chicken fat sauce. Both hit the mark – genuinely Asian flavours, a surprising sensory impression with each bite and a modern and sophisticated character, just like the place itself.

Those who can handle their spice should also add a bit of their own homemade chili sauce to their dishes. You might also want to ask for thrilling extras such as the Taiwanese golden kimchi (690 HUF) with daikons, green apples, yellow chili and Chinese kale, or the kale salad (990 HUF), comprised of part raw and part roasted kale leaves, cherry tomatoes and crispy onions. 

Hopefully by the time spring arrives, we can devour these tasty dishes at 101Bistro itself – especially because they’ll have opened their backyard garden by then. Until this happens, you can still get takeaway or order their dishes through Wolt, where they will be available soon.

101 Bistro
District II. Széll Kálmán tér 5
Pick-up/delivery: Daily noon-7pm 


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