Hange Chinese Restaurant

There are many theories as to why it was China's Sichuan Province of all places where chili peppers have reached an absurd level of intensity. Whatever the reason, Sichuan food has become synonymous with spicy and mouth-numbing flavors thanks to the generous use of chilis and Sichuan peppercorns. In Budapest, if you don't feel like trekking out to the city's Chinatown, Hange Restaurant will satisfy your cravings for red pepper-laden dishes. Note that Hange is also a bit outside downtown, occupying the ground floor of a modern office building in District 9.

Start your meal with the cold chicken in chili oil (€9); a dusting of Sichuan peppercorns will leave your lips tingling comfortably. I've had wonderful vegetarian mapo tofu here — soft and silky cubes of white tofu swimming in a sea of mildly spicy chili bean paste (€9). Many local Chinese order the lazi ji (€11), a fiery Sichuan classic packing bits of stir-fried chicken thighs smothered in dried chilis. The kung pao chicken (€10) and the yuxiang shredded pork (€10) are special treats, especially for local Hungarians who're used to their adulterated versions served in downtown takeouts.

Hange draws a mixed group of patrons: bureaucrats from the neighboring office park come for the €8 two-course lunch prix fixe, while well-heeled Chinese people fill the tables for the a la carte dinner menu.

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