It wasn’t dinner as usual in Sushi Sei on Bécsi út in the III District. Rather than the classic sushi affair, the Japanese restaurant in Óbuda had turned into a pop-up dinner dedicated to Japanese-fusion cuisine featuring the talents of two Hungarian chefs Róbert Kemény and Dénes Dlusztus, good friends since chef school, but currently working in London and Bergen, respectively.
So what’s the story behind the Globalista Konyha dinners? Chef and economist, Judit Laufer, and confectioner and journalist Panna Balázsy work together to curate these dinners that have an international flair. Judit, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef based partly in London, wanted to combine her double life between England and Hungary with the idea of a food-sharing network. Her two-day pop up dinners in Budapest or the countryside showcases the work of great London-based chefs in Hungary, varying locations and cuisines – this edition focussed on a Japanese inspired theme.
Róbert Kemény (left) and Dénes Dlusztus (right). Photo: Róbert Balogh
The dinner embodied the concept of fine dining, fusion and Japanese flavours perfectly, melding seasonal influences and techniques learned under some of the most prominent sushi chefs in Europe, while enjoying quality Hungarian wines from the Badacsony region.
Through a sequence of courses, the dinner curated by chefs Róbert Kemény and Dénes Dlusztus offered a journey into the world of foams, sushi inspired dishes and unique flavour pairings that leave you wondering how they came up with the concept and just how white truffle and ponzu go so well together with tuna carpaccio, or how a traditional miso soup could be reinvented with a dash of soy foam.
The event lasted a leisurely three hours, where courses were presented with healthy intervals in between, serving enough to satisfy the tastebuds and hunger, while presenting a new combination of flavours. The chefs gave an introduction to the various courses, instructing us how to best enjoy their creations – some to take a bite in one, others to use the spoon to gather all the tastes together before tasting. There was also an introduction to the wines that were picked to complement each dish by the wineries. For the uninitiated to the fine dining or experimental fusion cuisine experience, everything was explained, and the atmosphere felt so relaxed and casual that all one needed to do was sit back, relax, eat and drink.
Photo: Róbert Balogh
The feast began with an amuse bouche of marinated, grilled salmon that had a delicate and tender texture and a piquant mix of Japanese spices, served alongside a bite of crab and goose liver sushi and an unusual concoction of tofu and soy foam accented with just a hint of wasabi. To get the party started, this was served up alongside a sparkling wine from Badacsony, made in using the traditional Champagne method by the Istvándy Kéknyelũ winery.
Marinated and grilled salmon and a bite of crab and goose liver sushi with tofu, soy foam and a hint of wasabi. Photo: Róbert Balogh
The follow up starter of tuna carpaccio with white truffle and ponzu jelly and garnished with fried leeks provided a delicate and curious fusion of flavours, matched with a dry Muscat Ottonel from Badacsony. This was then shortly accompanied by a seasonal dish, made with locally sourced ingredients. The smoked goose breast with pumpkin and plum chutney was a perfect marriage of rich meat and tangy, sweet chutney, and acted as a great poster dish for this Hungarian-Japanese culinary marriage.
Smoked goose breast with pumpkin and plum chutney. Photo: Róbert Balogh
The miso cappuccino was a curious interpretation of the Japanese classic soup. Made traditionally with miso, seaweed and chunks of tofu, the soup saw a reinvention thanks to the layer of foamed tofu cream on top, which added another curious dimension to the Japanese staple.
Miso cappuccino with seaweed, tofu and a layer of foamed tofu cream on top. Photo: Róbert Balogh
Just when we thought the meal was going to be served in a sequence of small, dainty courses, it turned out we have only been indulging in starters, when the waiters set down the lamb chops in a saikyo miso sauce served with mashed potatoes and french beans. The sauce, traditionally used to marinate fish in Japan, gave the lamb a succulent sweetness that cut through the richness of the meat.
Lamb chops in a saikyo miso sauce served with mashed potatoes and french beans. Photo: Róbert Balogh
Our dessert was a matcha tapioca accompanied with traditional sesame seed ice cream – a common sweet in Japan. Rounding up the palette of flavours, a glass of Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky from Japan rounded up the feast alongside a refreshing cup Matcha Iri Genmaicha tea from the Marumoto Tea Room.
Matcha tapioca accompanied with traditional sesame seed ice cream. Photo: Róbert Balogh
While the dinners are held only over the course of two days, Globalista Konyha hosts a series of pop-up events on a regular basis, and this Japanese fusion dinner was the 10th in the series.
The dinners vary in theme, from Israeli to Peruvian fusion and even modern avant-garde concoctions served up to loud house music. Each dinner is unique as the other, with only the attention to quality and detail being the common denominator. Click here to learn more Globalista Konyha and about upcoming dinners.
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Our dinner was provided by Globalista Konyha, but all opinions and observations are our own. Featured image by Róbert Balogh.
About the author: Jennifer Walker is an Anglo-Hungarian former nuclear physicist turned writer based in Budapest, Hungary. She’s passionate about discovering Budapest’s hidden places, architecture and art.