Kao Niaw Ping Kai Restaurant

Kao Niaw Ping Kai Restaurant is located on one of the least inviting stretches of Budapest, the multi-lane Rákóczi Road, where the constant stream of car traffic has all but cleared the area of pedestrians. But don't despair. A downtown bus (take #5, #7, #110, #112, or #178) will drop you right outside the restaurant so you won't need to inhale any exhaust fumes.

Inside, you'll find one of the top casual Thai restaurants of Budapest. The Thai-Laotian owner-couple duo serves a pan-Thai fare, featuring curries, stir-fries, and coconut soups. There's also a section dedicated to spicy dishes from Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand bordering Laos. The interior fittings are a notch above takeout decor so a laid-back date night wouldn't seem out of place here.

You can't go wrong with the pungent green or red curries, and the familiar stir-fry dishes — pad see ew, pad thai, drunken noodles — also beat the local competition. I'm convinced the nam tok moo, a pork salad with green herbs, is one of the spiciest dishes in all of Budapest. All the more reason to leave room for the coconut-tapioca pudding to soothe your burning mouth.

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