Hung(a)ry in Makati! (dinner at Magyar)

We found this quaint little Hungarian restaurant, tucked quietly on one end of the Paseo De Magallanes in Makati. I haven’t heard or come across it in the past, but since I can’t recall ever seeing a Hungarian restaurant before, it naturally tickled my curiosity. (The only ones I’ve seen aplenty are Hungarian sausages in the grocery). This restaurant is named Magyar, after the people who lived on that land since the middle ages. It took a while before we could finally try it though, since the place is a bit off-path, and we don’t normally hang out on the Magallanes area.

One Sunday, we heard mass at the nearby St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, and since Magyar was just in the vicinity, we decided to take the opportunity to have dinner there.

The all glass facade of the restaurant is pretty much bare, though clean and moderately inviting. Inside, it looks neat, but not fancy. Framed pictures of Hungary adorn the flat walls on both sides (which otherwise would have been empty), while at the back we noticed a rather nice looking wine cabinet, among other things. The wait staff were all clothed in dresses that I believe resembled traditional eastern European clothing. And…since we were the only customers there that time, all their attention was on us.

Pictures of Hungary

More photos

Their menu was printed on rather plain, laminated paper, but they had pictures of their food on a “scrap book”, which was helpful since most of the food are probably unfamiliar to us sweet-spaghetti loving Pinoys. The scrap book also adds a “personal” feel to the experience, and gives the impression that the proprietor opened his/her doors not just for business, but for the love of the cuisine as well.

Our waitress recommended a traditional dish called the Ghoulash. It sounded familiar, but I never quite knew what it was, and only then did I learn that it’s actually a traditional dish. Apart from the Beef Ghoulash, we also had the Schnitzel – a very European sounding piece of pork, the Chicken Paprika, and a bread basket to go along with the meats. They don’t serve rice, which adds to the impression that what the owner wants is to introduce us to the cuisine, and not to attract the masses.

The bread basket...comes with herbed butter

The Ghoulash was served in a rather fancy manner, over a lit candle.

The schnitzel...breaded pork served with sauerkraut and potatoes

The chicken paprika...can be ordered spicy, but we chose not to. It came served on a bed of nokedli (Hungarian dumpling made of egg and flour, and has texture quite like pasta)

I’m not very familiar with Hungarian food, so I can’t vouch for the authenticity, but for what it’s worth, its a meal I enjoyed. The beef on the ghoulash was enjoyably soft, the schnitzel tasted good and went well with the sauerkraut (sauerkraut is a bit of an acquired taste though), and the chicken paprika was also good. I also enjoyed the bread which was enhanced by the generous serving of herbed butter that came with it.

To wash the food down, I had a bottle of Privo Praha, a Czech brand of beer that came in classic, dark, Czech light and weizen varieties. It wasn’t Hungarian, but the Czech Republic is close enough. I had the dark, which was an all malt beer with the same color as our own Cerveza Negra. I found it less sweet than the Cerveza, but it tasted lighter and was easier to gulp down. It was a refreshing casual drink, like most other popular European beers (eg. Heineken), and is not one for getting you drunk (eg. Red Horse).

Privo Praha Dark

I do recommend their iced tea too, which has a strong orange taste to it. What’s also good was that they let us try the taste of the iced tea, by putting some on an espresso glass.

It was an enjoyable dinner, and I was glad to find such a place here in Metro Manila. This may not be a place for most of us who don’t consider a meal without rice as real, but for those who won’t mind and are willing try something new, it is worth a visit.

And the tab? Just a bit over a thousand…not bad for such a place.

* We had dinner at Magyar on May 2010. All photos by me using my wife’s Sony DSC T300.

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