As many sushi bars have opened in Budapest recently as sand by the sea. However, not a lot of people have heard of a fish bar, and Hello Hal in Ráday utca will be a real discovery for all those who are brave enough to let go their traditional images of fish dishes and are ready to try something new.
Hello Hal surprises its guests with innovative creations made of fresh sweetwater fishes from domestic stock of high quality but without flaunting the overdriven flair of many fish restaurants.
Culinary weapons against prejudices
Did you ever hear of a meat-free version of “kolbász” or of a typical Hungarian “paprikás” that is fully made without using chicken meat? The Hal´a carte (“hal” is fish in Hungarian) of Hello Hal offers these kinds of surprises thanks to the concept of the business manager and the creative mind of the fish bar, Szabolcs Horváth.
The passionate fisherman, who is really dedicated to catching and preparing the fish, set an ambitious goal: “I would like to prove with my concept that Hungarians should not be scared of consuming domestic sweetwater fishes.”
According to his opinion, there is a broad-spread scepticism against fish, and the consumption of domestic fishes almost completely disappeared from Hungarian tradition. Horváth believes that the reasons for this are mainly people’s lack of trust in the quality, high process, lack of knowledge about the right preparation methods and the fear of bones. He fights with all the culinary tools to smash these prejudices.
Innovative fish creations: gyros, burgers and carp chips
And he does it with success. Not only because you will not find any bones in the fish at Hello Hal. When you look at the Hal´a carte you will immediately notice how much attention to detail was put into creating the selection of dishes. You can find everything that lives in domestic waters: ranging from carp over catfish up to zander – prepared in the form of new, innovative fish creations.
Besides the appetisers, such as the crispy and paper-thin carp chips, or the smoked catfish bites, which he says are the absolute favourites of the guests, the menu offers a colourful mixture of fish soups, streetfood variations and classic fish fillets.
The streetfood variations are a real culinary rarity. For example there is the gyros plate, which is made with the same spices as the classic version but instead of lamb or poultry it uses catfish. Still, it’s no less delicious than its meaty predecessor.
Burgers, which are enjoying a boom period in Budapest right now, look just the same in Hello Hal as a traditional burger – the only difference is that they contain minced fish meat. The favourite of the British, fish and chips, is not to be missed from the menu card here either.
Even the lunch menu, which is changing each week, shows a lot of creativity. Sometimes they offer fish filled with cabbage leaves, just like at Christmas, at other times spaghetti bolognese, which contains catfish instead of the traditional minced meat. The dishes that enjoy success on the weekly card sometimes make their way to the regular Hal´a carte.
Domestic sweetwater fish – always served fresh
Even if you like less creative solutions and you “only” desire to enjoy the pure, undisturbed taste of fish, you will not be disappointed at this fish bar. The carp, catfish and zander fillets come from domestic breeding, the majority of them from the area of the river Tisza.
Regular delivery guarantees freshness, enabling the fish to arrive at the doorstep of Hello Hal every second day without having to travel long routes or having to be handled by distributors.
The manager, whose mother comes from the Tisza region, knows that fish from there represent very high quality: “I have been fishing in the Tisza River ever since I was a kid, and I know that there are excellent sweetwater fishes.”
You can feel Horváth’s passion for fish and their preparation not only at his fish bar, which he opened in August 2016, wanting to bring something completely new to the gastronomy scene in Budapest. Besides Hello Hal the fish lover manages a fish snack stand in Tiszaörvény, near Tiszafüred.
As he is very self-confident about his business and wants to bring the art of correct fish preparation closer to the Hungarians again, he also offers seminars about filleting and cleaning the fish, he gives cooking courses and appears in cooking shows.
Horváth anxiously follows the continual decline of fish consumption in Hungary; according to the latest statistics, 49% never buy fish and 42% do not eat it in general. These figures compare with 17% and 13% in the European Union, respectively.
Hungary, then, is lagging far behind the continental averages. However, if Horváth has his way, this will be changing soon. He wants to encourage a return to this healthy meat alternative, which contains vital omega-3 fatty acids and more.
“People should give fish a chance,” he says, adding with a smile: “And me too.”
Hello Hal fish bar is the right choice for those who would like to enjoy quality and creative fish dishes in a casual atmosphere. The interior is reserved and pure by intention, reminding us of a Nordic bistro – nothing should distract our attention from the most important thing: enjoying the food.
The most demanding of clientele should find nothing missing in the high quality of the dishes. Everyone will find something that is right for their taste – and their purse. Hello Hal is namely also quite convincing when we look at the price-performance ratio.
District IX, 5 Ráday utca
Open daily from 11.30 to 22.00
(+36) 30 200-4442 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Appetisers and soups: