MICHELIN Guide Budapest : at the heart of Budapest, this restaurant offers a world tour of tastes and flavors


Jenő Rácz has become popular in Hungary thanks to his many TV appearances. Now the young chef runs a theatre restaurant, Rumour, serving 11-course meals that showcase the colours and flavours of his Hungarian roots and the influence of his years of travels in Europe and Asia.

When you arrive at Rumour, on the vibrant side of town centre and Pest, you may be looking for the front door. From the street you can only see the large windows covered with heavy velvet curtains. Nothing really shows you're standing in front of a gourmet restaurant. You actually have to walk through a tempting deli filled with delicious artisanal products to get into the dramatic two-story rumour. The restaurant is built around a huge open kitchen -- "a concept I've always liked," says chef Jenő Rácz -- with a long counter in the kitchen. Guests sit on elegant red bar stools. You're a viewer of a great cooking show that unfolds over 11 courses...and just as many wine or cocktail pairings.

Rumor's website humbly describes the restaurant: "A night at a restaurant can be compared (somewhat exaggeratedly) to an intimate dinner with a small group of friends." That's not really an exaggeration, it's an understatement. Unless your friends like to put on a real show when they cook their famous pasta carbonara on a Saturday night, not many home cooks can put on a show like Rumor. is the theater. This is magic. It's not like an intimate dinner, which is totally fine.

Chef Jenő starts cooking at school. During home classes, he baked an apple pie to the delight of his teachers and classmates. "That was the first time I realized I could do well," he said. He was 18 when he left Hungary and returned ten years later "with the exact same suitcase". After training in London and Copenhagen (with an internship at Noma), he moved to Singapore to work for Joël Robuchon, the first chef in the Western world to give an open kitchen 'show' in a restaurant in 1989, possibly the inspiration for Rumour . But that wasn't the only thought on Chef Jenő's mind when he was training at Atelier Joël Robuchon. "I love the hedonism of classic French cuisine," he explains, before adding ecstatically: "I'm fascinated by the Piment d'Espelette at Taian's Table Restaurant," which earned him a Michelin star just five months later. "Each province in China has different ingredients and cooking styles. For me, it was an exciting time to combine European cuisine and techniques with local Chinese ingredients," he explains many of them in my kitchen , like the Chinese 5 spices in my foie gras. Fennel seeds and lively Sichuan pepper give it such a twist that it has become my go-to spice for foie gras. »

Trained in France, Chef Jenő collected many different techniques and influences during his formative years. His traditional Hungarian dishes feature Asian ingredients, sometimes paired with unexpected wines, such as the usual (exquisite) fried foie gras with red wine from Veneto, Italy. "If I want to use Japanese mackerel, I will do my best," said the young man. "I love Japanese food and used to fly from Singapore to Tokyo."

Singapore is also where he was introduced to the spicy, warm flavours of the cuisine of the local Indian immigrant community. "I love the contrast of eating Indian street food outside, surrounded by huge modern buildings."

Jenő Rácz is a visual chef. His dishes are always creative and often surprising in their decor. In 2018 and 2019, a famous judge of a large TV cooking show in Hungary was voted by Bocuse D'Or as the coach of the Chinese national team, and naturally regarded himself as an artist. His dessert, made with five different types of Hungarian honey, is sprinkled with sparkling sugar, reminiscent of his childhood, and the deliciousness pops in your mouth. Like any good magic show, smoke is part of the game. The menu looks like a secret document, and at one point diners were asked to choose their Laguiole knife from a range of different colors. Chef Jenő emphasizes that at Rumor's dinner, everyone should feel special. « In recent years, people stopped caring about each other. I want guests to feel that they are well taken care of. This is a professional restaurant but also friendly. Service should not be cold. » During your dinner, you will be checked regularly by the chef, as will the rest of the staff, including the knowledgeable sommelier. (Note the wine pairing: it's almost impeccable, and the list is full of authentic Japanese sake. Follow their advice with your eyes closed).

For Chef Jenő, every dish must have a story, and he tells us a story: One day he accidentally roasted a whole celery sprig and left it in the oven overnight. That morning, when he saw the magnitude of the disaster—basically a black, charred piece of root vegetable—he dug up and ate it anyway. It was delicious ! The texture of celeriac is now one of his signature dishes, chawanmushi, a delicious Japanese egg custard. "Storytelling is part of the experience," he emphasizes. "Your thoughts change how the palate feels. Storytelling makes you hungry, emotional. Arousing."

Consider that in less than a year after opening in May 2021, there will be plenty of local celebrities leaning on this charming gourmet counter or lingering in the ground floor speakeasy with bartenders by former chefs The concocted cocktail, Rumor seems to live up to its expectations: it makes Budapest exciting...and exciting.

Hero Image: Restaurant Rumors.