Beef Sha Bhakleb
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What: Buchtičky se šodó are small sweet dumplings made from a dough of warm milk, yeast, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and flour, from which little balls or squares are cut out and baked. The main draw, however, is what goes on top: šodó, a sweet runny custard sauce that makes many a Czech sigh nostalgically for their kindergarten or school years. It’s such a common staple in school cafeterias, in fact, that it’s rarely found on restaurant menus. But a few places in Prague do offer this classic to the masses.
Where: A nice rendition of buchtičky se šodó is offered for lunch twice-weekly at a teeny bistro-cum-coffee shop called Home Kitchen (Jungmannova 8, Praha 1), where everything’s freshly made several times a day in the open kitchen and service is pleasant (plus, it’s no secret that the small waiter-cook-owner team is popular eye candy for female patrons). The restaurant feels surprisingly unlike Prague, with its communal table, tiny space, and non-smoking policy. In addition, unlike many Czech establishments, the owners don’t look down on those who ask for takeout; in fact, they’re fully prepared for it.
When: Mon-Fri, 7:30am-9pm; Sat, 8am-3pm; when we visited, buchtičky se šodó was offered on Mondays and Tuesdays. As per Czech culture, you eat this dish at lunch. (It is also perfectly acceptable to start with a savory appetizer and finish off with this sweet entrée.) Note that in the early opening hours, options are limited to cold dishes, which complies with traditional Czech breakfast-eating (i.e., no bells and whistles before 11:30am).
Good to know: Brunch is not a common pastime for locals, but Home Kitchen is open on Saturdays at conspicuously brunch-like hours, should any visitors be craving such a late-morning/early-afternoon meal.
Order: The menu changes frequently, so grab the buchtičky se šodó (95 CZK) when you can. Here, the dumplings are crispier than the old school-cafeteria version we remember, with a taste that’s like French toast—and then there’s that delicious creamy šodó topping. Home Kitchen also serves three different soups daily; the rest of the menu is fairly eclectic, comprising both vegetarian and meat dishes, but even the word “menu” is misleading: Each day, the dishes on offer are laid out on a counter and described by a waiter. During our visit, we also tried an amazing baked eggplant, potatoes with garlic, and lentil soup.
Alternatively: A few other places offer memorable buchtičky se šodó, with the most convincing version served (some days) for lunch at restaurant-pub Havelák (Melantrichova 5, Praha 1, map). —Contributed by Zuzana Boehmova
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