You will find the restaurant, which opened at the end of this July, in the ground floor of the noble Hegyvidék shopping mall, in the same room that only a few months earlier housed Tanti, the fine-dining restaurant. Tanti was a perfect example of what happens when you come too close to the sun. In 2015 it was launched with an unprecedented success: just a few months after opening, Tanti was awarded a Michelin star – only the fourth in the whole country. Its kitchen was innovative and everybody praised it. However, only a little later the rude awakening came: it lost its chef, then its star and finally the clients stayed away too. The restaurant had to close.


Back to Mum’s lunch table

Today the premises don’t remind us of this culinary one-day success anymore. The open, bright atmosphere of the guest room has luckily been preserved, giving diners space to breathe with its partially glass walls and high ceilings. While Tanti had a rather futuristic look with its colourful chairs, graphic patterns and lights hanging from the ceiling like Christmas tree balls, Zuzu radiates a rather cosy retro-charm courtesy its brown-black striped wooden floor, turquoise walls and velour upholstering. This is underlined by the neon sign with the restaurant’s name on the wall. By the way, the name is a tribute to the cult film "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane," which had a character called Zuzu and was very popular in Hungary in the 1990s.

The reason why the restaurant is designed in such a way that it wakes nostalgic feelings in the guests is to direct their attention to the real highlight: the culinary creations of chef Krisztián Huszár. These dishes also lead them back – at least the Hungarians – to their childhood, back to Mum’s lunch table.


Home-cooked food in a modern presentation

You will find the Hungarian classics of home-cooked food on the menu: cold fruit soup, stuffed paprika and cabbage, thick one-pots and cottage cheese cake the Rákóczi way – all the dishes to which most Hungarians are emotionally connected in a special way. Huszár reached back to the treasure chest of his memories during this gastro project. Some of the recipes come from his mother, for example.

However, Huszár does not only reproduce these traditional recipes, he translates them into contemporary dishes that correspond to the taste of the finest gourmets: "I wanted to prove that the concept of Hungarian home-cooked food is not only for a csárda but it can be fitted to such a modern restaurant as this one," he says. The chef uses the highest quality ingredients and the most modern cooking technologies.

So the stuffed paprika that Huszár prepares is filled with goat meat instead of the traditional minced pork. Rather than use rice he complements the filling with bread pieces soaked in consommé. The whole dish is prepared in a sous vide oven and finally is briefly stewed in a pan. The result is a pepper that hardly loses its taste and freshness with a really juicy filling.

Huszár’s one-pot dish from yellow peas is also a strongly modernised version of the canteen classic: he presents it separated into its basic elements, with a puree of yellow peas, a tasty brown jus, a meatball bar and a soft egg cooked in vinegar water.

For a really recommended appetiser, definitely try the roasted duck liver with lecsó. The red beet with smoked trout fillet and horseradish foam is also a good choice – especially optically.

In terms of desserts Zuzu also relies on the Hungarian classics. For this, Huszár sought the help of confectioner Luca Várady. Her biggest credit is that she is not trying to reinvent the wheel but is content with presenting such cult desserts as the Hungarian madártej – which do not need any improvement – in a slightly modernised and modified form.


Evaluation

When we ask him why he chose to turn to the Hungarian home-cooked dishes right now, when in the past one and a half years he was busy with the successful fusion of Hungarian and Asian dishes, Huszár just shrugs. "I think it was just high time. And I am Krisztián Huszár, I do what I want," he says with a mischievous smile. It’s easy to forgive his attitude, as success proves him right. The business already looks to be booming and the tables are filled even on weekdays. One of the success factors should be the moderate prices that make it kind of a hot deal considering the high-quality ingredients and the refined preparation methods under the direction of one of the city’s most renowned chefs. It fits the concept for which Huszár has positioned Zuzu. Unlike the essentially elegant Fáma, which is a restaurant for special occasions, Zuzu is rather a place for everyday pleasure, where you can just pop in sometimes for perhaps a filling soup or a quick beef tartar.


Zuzu
Budapest, District XII, 11 Apor Vilmos Square (in Hegyvidék shopping mall)
Open: daily 12.00 - 23.00, Sundays until 16.00
Reservations: (+36) 30 792-5355
See www.facebook.com/zuzubudapest/

Prices
Appetisers: HUF 1800 - 2500
Main dishes: HUF 2500 - 5900
Desserts: HUF 1500


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