Hanoi Xua (Ernő Street)

Hanoi Xua is a Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest that’s popular among local Hungarians. The place is best known for its extensive soup varieties, above-average fried rice plates, and a few Vietnamese foods that rarely appear in other restaurants like the chè dessert. Hanoi Xua is located in the ground floor of a residential apartment building in the outer part of District 9, once a seedy neighborhood, but now rapidly transforming thanks to international medical students who study at the nearby campuses of Semmelweis University.

Hanoi Xua’s hefty menu, bound in hardcover, lists 12 types of soups, including those with pho (flat rice), bun (round rice) and mien (glass) noodles. I most enjoyed the bun bo hue, a chili-laced spicy rendition from central Vietnam, and the mien bo cellophane noodles with beef. They came in a rich broth; my only complaint with both was the distractingly chewy slices of cooked beef shanks.

The bun cha, and the spring and summer rolls tasted like they were added to the menu for the sake of completeness, leaving not much of an impression. The fried rice dishes, on the other hand, are flavorful and perfectly oily. The winning formula at Hanoi Xua is this (for big eaters): start with a bun bo hue soup, then get a fried rice plate, and finish the meal off with tapioca pearls in a coconut pudding (chè). Service, as usual in Budapest, can be annoyingly unenthusiastic.