My eating buddy first discovered Magyar more than a year ago. Located in the Paseo de Magallanes area right beside Dayrit's where we most often had dinner, Magyar was interesting -- Hungarian food?
I was only familiar with goulash but maybe it would be worth one meal.
Thankfully, we took that first step. Magyar must be the only restaurant devoted to Hungarian cuisine in the metropolis. I applaud its tenacity and staying power -- a lot of restaurants have come and gone in the area but Magyar continues to thrive. One reason is definitely its menu -- composed of well chosen samples of Hungarian dishes, it takes one unfamiliar with the cuisine on a pleasant and flavorful culinary discovery trip.
Spaetzle is a typical side dish of small dumpling-like noodles. It takes the place of rice or bread and comes buttered with a dash of pepper and paprika. By the way, paprika seems to be the spice of choice for Hungary. It came sprinkled on top of most of the dishes.
At Magyar, I discovered this really scrumptious appetizer -- langos. Made of mashed potatoes, flour and milk -- it's fried till golden brown then liberally doused with a creamy cheese sauce and further sprinkled with grated cheese, pepper and more of that paprika. It's like eating a gooey fried piece of bread -- chewy crisp and quite rich. One order comes with two pieces but because it's quite heavy, it's more than enough for 3 people.
Of course you have to try the goulash -- the single dish that comes to most people's minds when you say Hungarian food. Magyar offers beef, lamb, pork, seafood and for vegetarians like me, the mushroom goulash is heaven sent. The mushrooms come with potatoes, carrots in a thick and flavorful tomato based sauce -- which I like to spoon liberally over my spaetzle.
In addition to goulash, there are sausages that come with a forgettable sauerkraut, chicken, lamb or fish paprika and a paper-thin and quite authentic pork schnitzel.
After that heavy and rich meal, dessert is in order. There is an interesting thin layered cake called dobos but I think this light cream puff is so much better!
A few other things I like about Magyar -- the quiet atmosphere is conducive to dinnertime conversation and the service is attentive and unfailingly polite.
Long may it continue to exist!