Hai Nam Pho Bistro

Hai Nam Pho Bistro is what happens when ethnic cuisine becomes a victim of too much "localization." The Vietnamese owners here believe that the food must be adjusted to local tastes, a perfectly reasonable theory that may spawn inventive dishes, but at Hai Nam they simply avoid flavorful cuts of fatty meats and traditional Vietnamese dishes that they don't deem palatable to Hungarians. For example, the bun cha (€6), normally a mound of flavorful pork belly, is a forlorn-looking affair of lean meat; the spring roll (€2), another Vietnamese staple, lacks the coveted porky flavor and crunchy crust.

Hai Nam's speciality is the beef pho (€5), which is very good indeed. The soup arrives in an aromatic broth with slippery rice noodles, drizzled with bean sprouts, chives, and cilantro. Both the slow-cooked shanks and the thinly-sliced sirloins are tender and perfectly satisfying.

Hai Nam is by far the most popular Vietnamese restaurant among local Hungarians in Budapest, enjoying a cult-following. While the pho soup is worth a visit, some other restaurants serve more adventurous Vietnamese food in the city.