Lángos by the Zoo

Állatkerti körút, Városliget [map]
Pest, XIV,
Széchenyi Fürdő (M1), 1 min
Cuisine > Hungarian

Rating: 4/10

‘Lángos! The thick, deep fried dough slice, like a fresh donut but bigger, served with assorted toppings. Sour cream! Cheese! Ham! Garlic! Nutella! (Not all at the same time!) I love lángos! Let’s get a lángos!’

In my experience, that’s a typical reaction to this very Hungarian fast food, available all over the place for people on a budget who aren’t particularly bothered about their waistline. Personally, I’d always found it to be a somewhat problematic, arduous snack, but I hadn’t eaten one in over a year. Was my memory playing tricks on me? Have I just had bad láng-i? I couldn’t be sure, so to check, I headed over to the fringes of the city park.

As with most lángos stands, this one is an unremarkable hut, the equivalent of a roadside burger bar. It has a little window for the cash/food exchange - like a bank till, passport control, or the place in prisons where you get your wallet back after you’ve been released (I imagine).

Deciding against a plain lump of deep-fried dough (300 ft) I plump for a ‘sajtos-tejfölös’ (sour cream with grated cheese, 500 ft) - a combination of hot and cold, dry and wet - the big hitter of Hungarian deep fried dough toppings. After I pay, the little old lady disappears from view for a couple of minutes, before coming back with a lángos in the shape of a big greasy heart. It's cute, if very bad for that particular organ. I turn away from the window, sit down on a plastic chair, and begin to tuck in.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, eating lángos is like an epic journey - one which I can comfortably divide into five sections. The first is the sensation of yummy joy. Hot and fresh, with dough that melts on your tongue, I always wonder why I don’t eat these more often. I love lángos! They’re great! What was I thinking?

A couple of bites later, we’re into stage two and the lángos becomes a funny problem. How the hell am I going to get through this, I think. Then I put it down for a second. After a bit, perhaps when the grease from the dough starts to seep through the napkin and into the table, the journey enters its third stage - the lángos isn’t funny any more, it’s just a problem. Taking a swig from a bottle of water or rubbing the oil from my hands, lips and wrists should help. Another brief hiatus...

Usually at this point, the lángos seems to have grown in size - which means we’ve entered the fourth stage. Here, the rugged surface takes on a different character... it’s now an enormous piece of terrain I can never possibly hope to cross. I’m like Joe Simpson in Touching the Void, a man who spent days dragging himself over a glacier with a broken leg. I gingerly nibble at the edge, hot and exhausted.

A few bites later, and I’m into the fifth and final stage - the stand off. The lángos looks at me, all warmth gone, just a cold unforgiving mass of cheese, sour cream and dough. I stare back, irritated. It stares at me, unflinching. I stare back. It stares at me. Etc. With this particular lángos, I ended up throwing it to the birds. They gobbled it up, and got their beaks and faces all greasy.

I should add that not everyone feels the same way. Being Hungarian seems to help - I know people who eat lángos for breakfast, and in fact, two acquaintances of mine were planning on making their fortune by introducing them to Australia. I've also heard about wonderful, fresh ones with bacon in the middle, available at the car crash of a building, Lehel Csarnok. Whatever your opinon though, there does always seem to be the same sticking point and that is that they're far too heavy. So if you haven't tried one yet, do. Just make sure you share it. With six friends.

Food: 4/10
Service: 4/10
Atmosphere: 4/10

Value for money: 4/10

Andy T.


  1. SLW said...

    It's true you have to share a Sajtos-tejfölös lángos, but I would love one right now...I had my last one two years ago and the one before that 12 years ago. I haven't found anyplace in New York that sells them, but to tell you the truth I haven't looked. I'm sure they're out there somewhere.  


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