Hungarians generally love their meat dishes but the cuisine can be heavy on the digestion. One meal might last you a whole day without needing to eat anything else but snacks. Lard and sour cream are common ingredients in Hungarian cooking. The dishes can be very tasty. Sometimes, you just want something lighter and kinder to the arteries. Recently, fish & chips has become a popular choice of food, with quite a few new fish & chip shops opening around Budapest city.
Open since December 13th 2013, Bubba’s Water Grill is one of Budapest’s newest family-run fish & chip shops.
I love fish & chips and I’ve enjoyed my fair share whilst studying in the UK. Fish & chips is not so common outside the UK, so on learning that Bubba’s was opening in Budapest, I was more than happy to try it out.
Hidden beneath a busy street junction at Déli Pályaudvar metro station, Bubba’s Water Grill is a treasure to be discovered. From the metro station at Déli Pályaudvar, exit right and follow the shops round to the back which leads to a circular square with a pharmacy, a florist and other shops. Follow the steps down and straight ahead of you is Bubba’s Water Grill with its big sign above their door.
Inside Bubba’s, a nautical theme is carried throughout the interior design. You can see the signature logo of Bubba on the wall, a cartoon sailor with a thick ginger beard. The radiators are painted in blue, red and white, adding a splash of colour. The front counter has three glass display units and decorated with life-rings at either end, resembling a boat. The most interesting features are the dining tables; they are made from bright orange and yellow surfboards. They are surely a spectacle. But you may need the skills of an experienced surfer to balance your meal with the curved smooth and slippery surface. Fortunately, the surfboard has a wire and some wooden pegs that you can lash your serving container to. As for the soup, which is served in a round polystyrene bowl, you may well have to keep a firm grip of it.
Bubba’s has a good selection of dishes on their menu and I couldn’t wait to try them. Starting with a fish soup, which was made with potato, carrot, mushroom, cilantro, pak choi (chinese cabbage), chilli, spices and three different types of fish. It’s rich in favour with a fiery sweetness, almost like a fish tom yum soup minus the lime. It was delicious.
While I was waiting on my grilled fish, one of the customers ordered a fish burger; a Bubba’s fish burger dressed with a layer of lettuce, topped with a special mayonnaise sandwiched between a home-made bun, served with chips. I couldn’t help but ask to take a photo of the burger to show you what it looks like. Things I do for you guys…:)
My dishes arrived: the grilled mackerel served with a salad and the deep fried pike, a Bubba’s special, served with grilled vegetables in tomato sauce. The grilled mackerel looked great and was of a good size. It was perfectly cooked and tasted fantastic; moist, soft and juicy. It was delicious.
As for the deep fried pike, again it was of a good size. Cuts were made throughout the fish before it was seasoned and then deep fried. Comparing to the mackerel, the fish has a much milder taste and, not as soft and juicy. Although it’s not my personal favourite, I think it’s a nice fish to eat for those who like pike and its more subtle taste.
I also had a portion of calamari. It was beautifully fried with a crispy and crunchy batter-coating. The taste was quite mild but with a squeeze of lemon and a little salt, it was nice. As for the texture, personally I feel that the squid was a little soft for me, as I prefer mine a little more chewy. Nonetheless, it was a great side dish.
Of course, I cannot come to a fish and chip shop and not have fish and chips. And so lastly, I had a Bubba-sized fish and chips, which is the biggest size Bubba’s Water Grill serves.
Traditionally, fish and chips in the UK used Atlantic cod. Bubba’s Water Grill uses Norwegian black cod, which resembles the Atlantic cod but comes from a different family. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Atlantic cod was seriously overfished which forced the Canadian government to shut their fisheries. The natural stocks of Atlantic cod are yet to recover. So, by eating Norwegian black cod instead of Atlantic cod, not only are you getting a similar taste but also aiding the recovery of Atlantic cod numbers.
My fish and chips were served with a side portion of crushed peas and a mayonnaise dipping. The fish was expertly fried with a thin, flaky and flavourful golden colour batter-coating. Inside was a chunky piece of fish fillet; fresh, moist and tasty. As for the chips, they had a crunchy coating and a soft centre. However, I would describe them more as potato wedges than chips. Chef Lajos at Bubba’s explained that they use a special type of potato cooked differently to the tradition way, which gives them their taste and crispy skin.
Bubba’s Water Grill in Budapest
Verdict: Bubba’s Water Grill serve good quality tasty food at a reasonable price. A fusion of fast food and fine dining. The tables are not the easiest to eat on and plastic fast food cutlery are not the most suited for eating fish and chips. If you’re near Déli Pályaudvar metro station, ignore the station’s kebabs and hot dogs; go and eat at Bubba’s water grill, it’s a healthier option. If you’re not near but you’re craving fish and chips, Bubba’s Water Grill is well worth a mini-expedition.