Transylvania Restaurant - Hollywood
As is sometimes the case with family-run restaurants, the notion of being open when the customer is hungry takes second-fiddle to the notion of being open when the family wants to be open.
And so it is with Transylvania. After repeated attempts at trying this place, only to find it closed at both lunch and dinner time, I finally happened upon them when they were “open.” But it was still a little awkward. First, I was the only customer in there. And when I arrived, they looked at me like I was the taxman…. First seemingly challenging my existence in their shop, then questioning me on what I want. Of course I didn’t know what I wanted because I didn’t know what they offered.
So upon my request for a menu, I was shown a color copy of a menu but told they don’t have anything on it except the Dracula burger, chicken paprikash or a sandwich. I thought I’d try something new (the whole reason I was there) and ordered the chicken paprikash.
The actual geographic area of Transylvania is in the northwest region of Romania, where it borders Hungary. In fact, many residents of that area don’t even speak Romanian. They speak Hungarian despite the fact that it’s within the country of Romania. So while it’s not immediately intuitive for paprikash to be a Romanian dish, this fits perfectly into the actual area of Transylvania, the restaurant’s namesake.
As I waited for the food to arrive, they presented me with a fresh baby spinach salad with walnuts, cranberries and goat cheese. Over the top was a very light but tangy dressing.
The walls are adorned with pictures of Bela Lugosi, Dracula, castles, and other Transylvania-esque artwork and photos. This would be a good place to go on Halloween, maybe following a visit to the Museum of Death a couple of blocks away.
When the food arrived, it was a nice size portion with the stew ladled over fresh spaetzle. The spaetzle was tender and buttery, but it had a perfect firmness, and occasionally I’d get a crispy bite. The chicken was fresh, also very tender after what must have been hours simmering. The sauce was creamy, with a light Hungarian paprika flavor. Overall, this was a very nice surprise.
5615 Hollywood Blvd (about 3 blocks east of the 101)
5615 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
I also tried going when they first opened. Closed. I even called and went again when the guy (who answered the phone after about 6 rings) said they'd be open...and they weren't open. Finally, about 2 weeks after its grand opening, I was driving by, and, low and behold, they were open. What first attracted me was the description on the website of an east European buffet. When I was given the menu, nothing on the website was there. I asked the waiter what happened. He said they gave it a week and nobody around the area seemed interested in European food, so they changed the menu.
This is not really a negative review, since I didn't end up eating there. I'll go back and try the paprikash (which they didn't have when I was there.) I just got a laugh out of the amount of time they gave it before throwing in the towel.
Sounds exactly like dining in Russia, where the menu is less a list of what's on offer and more a beautiful list of things they would serve if only the deliverymen weren't on strike, if only the distributors weren't crooked, if only the stove were working properly, if only, if only, if only.
One of the first things I learned in Russian was "chto yest' sevodnya?" ("What's available today?") I ate a lot of marinated mushrooms followed by cutlets, a lot of soup followed by boiled fish with horseradish.
Sounds like this is very authentic. :-P
I'll have to try my luck and to there, since I love Hungarian food. BTW, the reason the restaurant is called Transylvania and serves Hungarian food is that until 1918, Transylvania was part of Hungary. When Austria-Hungary was defeated at the end of WWI, the empire was taken apart, and Hungary had to give over Transylvania to Romania, which had hankered for that bit of real estate for a long time since there were ethnic Romanians there.