Out of all the places that I have eaten in Europe so far, The Dzungel was by far one of the most memorable and hilarious. Most of all, I will always remember its miracle dumpling. More on that later; and trust me, it truly was a miracle. The Dzungel was recommended to my friends and me by one of the employees at the hostel in which we were staying. We took his suggestion because he said that the place would “be fun.”
When we arrived, we snickered at the fact that the restaurant deemed itself a “crazy cafe.” But we truly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The Dzungle has a funny concept. You can choose to eat in four different environments: savannah, ocean, jungle, or pirates. Well, the pirate theme didn’t fit with the others – don’t pirates live on the ocean? – but we gave them the benefit of the doubt. Each theme has a different menu, but you can order from the entire menu regardless of wherever you choose to sit. We chose the jungle because the restaurant’s name is The Dzungel. During our meal, we were serenaded by jungle animal sounds and the Titanic theme song.
It took us quite a while to pour through the restaurant’s extensive menu, with English included; there were at least ten pages with pictures of each dish included. I was a bit worried because quantity doesn’t usually translate into quality. A note, though, there didn’t appear to be any real vegetarian options. All the dish names were unique, and I honestly couldn’t tell if this restaurant was a tourist trap or truly just a bizarre institution. I ordered the Spotty Cheetah’s favorite (2490 Ft, $10.97): rose duck breast with rosemary-orange sauce and pommes douchesse. The tangy sauce was a good complement to the duck, and in particular I liked how the potatoes weren’t over salted yet still very crisp on the outside.
The Bellyfull cocatoo (2090 Ft, $8.61) consisted of turkey breast stuffed with camembert and pear served with rice topped with cinnamon and blueberry sauce on the side. This dish reminded me of a thanksgiving meal but with a Hungarian twist. It was hard to eat everything together and get the perfect bite, but surprisingly all the strong flavors didn’t become too much to handle.
The Bitter boar’s role in casserole (2490 Ft, $10.97) was a wild boar ragu with toasted rye bread. Visually, this wasn’t the most beautiful dish, and flavor wise it fell a bit on the lower end of the scale. The person who ordered it left quite a lot of it in the bowl. Overall, this dish was just a little too salty as wells.
Bantu Chief’s feast (2090 Ft, $8.61) didn’t receive any high praises or harsh remarks. The dish consisted of a bread-crumb-coated fried turkey breast topped with a feta cheese sauce. It seemed to be a safe choice but ultimately boring.
And finally, we had to order the miracle dumplings. Presentation-wise, they looked pretty good with all the poppy seeds and vanilla sauce, but the dumpling itself was not so great. The outer dough was light and fluffy yet soft and creamy all at the same time – very confusing. However, as we bit into the center, we were met with a plum filling that tasted sour, bitter, and medicinal. We couldn’t bring ourselves to finish the dumpling. Three of us agreed that the miracle dumpling was just an enigma of strange textures and tastes. The fourth member only allowed it to pass because she didn’t want to give up believing in the miracle.
So if you’re looking for a safe option to dine out in Budapest, The Dzungel is probably a safe choice. Just be careful what you order. While The Dzungel’s concept is fun, the food could have been better. I would have much a smaller menu filled with dishes of higher quality rather than a large selection of so-so dishes.