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Nov 6, 2008 07:24 PM

Jasmine Bistro and other Hungarian places?

I was just reading another post in which someone mentioned the Jasmine Bistro in Brighton.
My grandpa was Hungarian, and my mom has always spoken fondly of the food his mom (her grandma) used to make...
I see they also have French and Middle Eastern food, but am more interested in the Hungarian aspect.

I'd love to bring her out to dinner here, OR...if there is another wonderful Hungarian place in the boston area, that would be cool too. Any dishes that are a MUST by way of "traditional hungarian cuisine" (my knowledge is slim to none...)?

Thanks :)

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  1. It's a fantastic place (modest but pretty little storefront) and to my knowledge your only option for Hungarian food in Greater Boston. A very good value, in my book.

    Not to miss: gulyas (aka goulash, but not the Americanized version most of us know), paprikash, beef Stroganoff, Wiener schnitzel, and the Hungarian wines on the list (like the Egri Bikaver "Bull's Blood", a lovely, Bordeaux-like red).

    13 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Is their goulash the thinner/soupier kind or the thicker kind? I think the former is more Hungarian and the latter more Austrian - if so, I likely just answered my own question, but ...

      1. re: jgg13

        I've never been to Hungary, but the chef was a sous at Cafe Budapest for many years. Certainly I'd never had a paprikash or gulyas here like I'd had elsewhere. I wouldn't describe the sauce as soupy: it's more like a thick stew, heavy on sour cream.

        One surprise here is the noodles served with many Hungarian dishes, which are more like spaetzle: very nice.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          My favorite Hungarian hole-in-the-wall in Toronto (Country Style) serves those spaetzle-like noodles, and I love them. I have really got to get over to Brighton Center and try this place out!

          1. re: Allstonian

            Galuska, my friends, galuska. That's what the mini-dumpling are called.

            And I'd second the notion that this is really the only Hungarian place around. There was a place in Quincy but it has closed.

            There are some related foods in other Eastern/Central European cuisines, but Magyar cuisine is distinct enough that it matters.

            I would note that most natives would look cross-eyed at you for paying $20+ for paprika chicken and noodles.

            There was a restaurant called the Goulash Place in Danbury CT. Not sure if its still around.

            1. re: slowcookedbeef

              If you look at the total cost, i.e., how much you'd spend on gas to get to the next closest plate of chicken paprikash, it's still a bargain. And it is delicious.

              And it's always nice to learn another proper food term. Is that pronounced ga-LOOSH-ka? Could be my new mantra. Galuska. Galuska. Galuska. I already feel calmer.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                It's better than the mantra that Richard Lewis once borrowed from Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," that's for sure.

                There used to be a Hungarian place in Worcester called Anna's, but I'm pretty sure it is no longer around. And there was a place in Fairfield, CT, near Super Duper Weenie (love that name!), but I don't think it's around anymore, either.

                1. re: hiddenboston

                  Sadly Anna's closed over a year ago. This is the first time I've seen this thread - will be heading there this weekend!

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  Yep, its ga-LOOSH-ka. If you need a mantra, go with the whole thing:

                  Paprika chicken with dumplings = csirke paprikas galuskaval

                  Say it with me: chir-KAY pa-pri-KAS ga-LOOSH-kval.

                  I always try to stick up for the little known dumpling against the imperialist spaetzle.

                  1. re: slowcookedbeef

                    This sounds very yummy. One minor note: all words in Hungarian are stressed on the first syllable. So, it's more like "CHIR-kay PA-pri-kash GA-loosh-ka-val".

                3. re: slowcookedbeef

                  Ate at Goulash Place last year. It's worth the drive.

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                Ah. I take a "the thicker the better" stance on this dish. I'll have to check it out.

                1. re: jgg13

                  I like a thick(ish) sauce on a paprikas, but the gulyas that I've had in authentically Hungarian restaurants (again, in Toronto, not Hungary) has definitely been brothy, more like a soup/stew than something bound with gravy.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    That's what I was getting at w/ my comment about Austrian vs. Hungarian. I've spent time in the former country but not the latter, and when I was having goulash in Austria it would be closer to a gravy than a stew. Most of the things i've had here (not including the dish that I associate with the midwest of the same name) were more like a soup/stew and my understanding was taht this was more of a Hungarian preparation.

          2. Cafe Polonia in Southie is a Polish restaurant, but some of their cuisine overlaps a bit into Hungarian food (goulash, stuffed cabbage, potato dumplings, etc.).

            Other than that, you have to head out of Boston to find Hungarian food. I think the Vienna Inn in Southbridge might have some Hungarian dishes...

            1 Reply
            1. re: hiddenboston

              The Vienna Inn does more of a concept of Eastern European food. Stroganoff, Goulash, ect ect. more of the popular dishes that Americans may know. Still, there's not of options out there for this type of stuff and the Vienna is a decent option. The dinning rooms are really nice, set in a totally renovated victorian building in the middle of nowhere.

            2. There's "Lala's Hungarian Pastry" in Manchester, NH on Elm St. They serve entrees in addition to pastries. I hear it is authentic and quite good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: robertlf

                As the son of a Hungarian and after living in Budapest for a year, I was really excited about trying Jasmine Bistro. Unfortunately, I must say that there food is not close to being authentic and am really shocked that is well liked. The paprikas tasted almost like a half-hearted attempt at Indian food when I tried it. I grew up on my grandmothers veal paprikas and knockedli (the hungarian version of spaetlze which often contains farina in addition to flour). They have recently changed to fresh spaetlze but they told me on my first visit that they were using dried german spaetzle because the to make fresh was too labor intensive. I have given them quite a few chances and all hungarians involved were very dissapointed.
                The closest to real hungarian that we have had was Anna's Kitchen which was first in Quincy before moving to Worcester and sadly closing. Otherwise it is Southern CT. or NYC. :(

              2. Allstonian and I had our first meal at Jasmine Bistro tonight, because the weather seemed to call for Hungarian food.

                I started with the cucumber salad, which was quite a lovely version: the cukes were cut a bit thicker than I'm used to for this dish, which I enjoyed because they retained a bit more snap than you sometimes find. (Sometimes cucumber salad is unpleasantly like trying to trying to eat a bowl of half-sour pickle slices.) It was topped, unusually, with a spoonful of thick, tangy sour cream that was a perfect accent to the sweet dressing. Allstonian went with one of the specials, the lobster bisque. My taste was quite nice, although not being the biggest lobster fan in the world, I'm not a judge. It did have notably more lobster in it than I've ever seen in a bisque, though.

                Allstonian also had the schnitzel, which was just amazingly good, and which I'm probably getting myself next time. Our Hungarian restaurant of note, the lovely little hole in the wall on Bloor Street in Toronto that she mentioned upthread, specializes in schnitzel that are literally as big as the plate they come out on: this is nowhere near so lavish in size, but it truly couldn't have been more perfectly cooked. We knew it was gonna be good the second she cut into it, from the deep crack of the perfectly browned crust. She got it jager-style, with the mushroom sauce, although I personally might have gone Holstein, with the fried egg on top.

                Me, I went with the veal gulyas, huge and fork-tender pieces of immensely flavorful veal in a thick tomato gravy next to a pile of light and airy homemade spaetzle. Only the fact that there was another table occupied kept me from picking up my plate and licking it clean.

                The desserts sucked and I'd never bother with them again. Good coffee, though, or I wouldn't say no to a snort of one of the several liqueurs that were on display next time.

                Happily, I couldn't possibly care less about the purported "authenticity" of food -- the subject always reminds me of the scene in Calvin Trillin's AMERICAN FRIED where he describes going on at a party about how the gazpacho being served wasn't at all like a true gazpacho that you'd get in Spain, until he realized that the main difference was that this gazpacho was better -- and am only interested in how it tastes. Our entrees tasted magnificent, and I'm looking forward to our next visit. No, it's not a patch on my beloved Country Style Hungarian Restaurant in Toronto, but it's also about 550 miles closer to my house.

                1 Reply
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  I've never been to Budapest, but I do adore the Hungarian dishes at Jasmine Bistro (the French stuff is good too, but I can get French at about fifty other places in town). I will take lovinlinecook's word that it's inauthentic, and keep going anyway.

                2. I had just returned from a trip to Budapest, and am craving for some Hungarian food already.

                  From the description here, it sounds like they don't serve the Hungarian goulash soup?

                  How about Hungarian fish soup (halászlé), or stuffed cabbage (Töltött Káposzta)?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: y2000k

                    I don't recall seeing either of those dishes on Jasmine Bistro's menu.. While I love the food there, understand the chef is not Hungarian; he's from Baluchistan, got his French training in Parisian kitchens, and learned Hungarian cuisine at a Boston restaurant, Cafe Budapest. Expecting perfect authenticity may lead to disappointment. I still think it's a worthy place, and -- excepting a couple of dishes on the menu at Polish joint Cafe Polonia, also a worthwhile place, by the way -- you have exactly one option for Hungarian food in Boston.