A mighty Buddha several times human-size presides over the diners as they partake of their Sunday Brunch. This is mainly a help-yourself buffet and we should guard against over-indulgence, lest, when we shuffle off this mortal coil, under The Enlightened One’s philosophy we return to Earth as one of those pinkish four-legged creatures that gobble everything in sight.
Self-restraint is a wise precaution because the culinary offering is temptingly wide and, it transpires, rather tasty, so over-indulgence is a definite possibility. However, we pacify our consciences with the knowledge that after Buddha’s moment of pure enlightenment 2600 years ago, when he realised that a path of balance, the Middle Way, is better than extremism, he returned home for a while and his father celebrated with a feast.
Budapest has a number of Sunday Brunches and this one is in the Mellow Mood Group’s Buddha-Bar Restaurant in the Klotild Palace, one of Budapest’s signature buildings and housing upscale eateries, bars and a five-star hotel. This brunch comes in two categories: the Classic, costing HUF 8900, and the Deluxe, HUF 10,900.
Both varieties include the buffet and one a la carte main course, plus unlimited water and soft drinks. Each welcomes diners with a cocktail of lychee and elderflower syrup with a slice of lime and the ubiquitous olive (black), but the Classic is non-alcoholic and the Deluxe has sake, the Japanese rice wine.
Also, Deluxe allows unlimited sparkling wine, beer and house wine, and coffee and tea. The wines all come from Hungary’s Chapel Hill vineyard, south of Lake Balaton, the red a merlot and the white a sauvignon blanc.
For the record, the beer is Dreher and the coffee a 100 percent Arabica from a source that the restaurant keeps under its hat. Sipping our cocktail, we forgot to ask about the tea. But we can tell you that Classic offers Hungarian water and Deluxe offers Italian, which opens the possibility of an interesting social comment.
This Sunday Brunch is an Asian experience, as evidenced by our companion Buddha, and it opens at the soup station where the choice is between miso, the traditional Japanese soup, and tom yum, for an authentic taste of Thailand. The eight condiments – coriander, tofu, leek, shrimp, lime, seaweed, calamari and mushroom – provide ample opportunity for experimenting.
Buddha-Bar Restaurant says it has the best sushi in town, and this is a live station manned by a chef trying something different each Sunday. On our visit he had prepared two vegetarian varieties, namely cucumber and rice with a nori seaweed covering, and mixed vegetables in cream cheese topped with breadcrumbs.
Nigiri (hand-pressed) sushis on offer are salmon, tuna, sea bass and Pink Lady Roll, which includes shrimp. Salmon also turns up in an avocado mix, and shrimp in cream cheese with teriyaki sauce. The chef will spice them up according to taste, and sushi amateurs should beware the innocent-looking but mouth-blistering bowl of green wasabi sauce, a life-changing experience for the unprepared.
The starters station is also rich in choice with, among others, Duck Terrine, Vermicelli Salad with grilled calamari, Teriyaki Salmon, Sechuan Beef and, apparently the favourite dish in the entire building, a chicken salad containing coriander, black sesame seeds, cabbage and crunchy wanton paste.
The a la carte main course is from a choice of eight, and we opt for Five-Spice Chicken Supreme with Sichuan Vegetables; and Salmon with Curry Potato, Daikon Pickles and Teriyaki Sauce. The others are Wok Fried Black Pepper Beef; Pork Loin with Sweet Potato and Sake Teriyaki; Two Eggs Any Style with Bacon or Ham, Hash Browns; Buddha-Bar Hotel Omelette with Tomato Fondue and Hash Browns; and Eggs Benedict Siddharta Style.
The mind is everything, what you think you become, opined Buddha, and at the risk of turning into a passionfruit tart, cardamom and banana brulée, cheesecake or fruit salad, we turn fearlessly to dessert.
Life can be a puzzle. Buddha warned that if we crave things, we are constantly reborn, instead of breaking out of the cycle. But good food is a sort of Nirvana of its own, and The Enlightened One also realised that deprivation was not the path to inner liberation. Our recommendation, then: eat, drink and be merry, and worry about it afterwards.
Phone: (+36-1) 799-7302