Chinatown Restaurant (Kínai Negyed Étterem)

Chinatown Restaurant, which opened in 1991, was one of the first Chinese restaurants in Budapest. Although not in the city center, it's one of the few places near downtown that serves authentic Chinese food (Chinatown's moniker is misleading, because the restaurant isn't actually located in Budapest's Chinatown). Be sure to take the main entrance, else you will end up in the takeout section, where cheaper but watered-down dishes cater to local tastes and wallets.

Much of the long menu comprises fiery Sichuanese dishes prepared reliably and well. I especially enjoyed the lazi ji (€7) and the Yuxiang shredded pork (€7). There's also an arbitrary collection of plates that have proven to be the most popular over the restaurant’s long history like the Yangzhou-style “lion’s head” meatballs (€8) and the "Dongpo" braised pork belly (€6 for two pieces).

Chinatown's interior hasn’t changed much since the 1990s, when curved-roof ornaments were the obligatory design elements in Chinese restaurants across Hungary and Austria. Today, Chinatown mainly caters to Chinese tourists, which means that the place is nearly always packed with camera-wielding Asian groups who seem to be in constant motion. This can, unfortunately, detract from the dining experience. Cash only!

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