Budapest’s sleepy Szondi Street in District 6 has been quietly transforming into a paradise of ethnic cuisine - adventurous locals can try Thai, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese flavors near one another. Saigon Bistro, which looks like a takeout-joint, is one of the few Southern Vietnamese restaurants in Budapest (it was from the communist north that Hungary took immigrants during the Vietnam War). This means that the dishes here pack more herbs, garnishes, and sweeter flavors than elsewhere.

For example, the soups arrive fortified with mounds of sprouts, parsley, mint, Thai basil, ginger, and lemongrass. The broths impart rich and concentrated flavors thanks to long hours of simmering. Although Vietnam’s national dish, the pho (€5), will not disappoint, it's the “Saigon soup” (hủ tiếu; €6) that makes Saigon Bistro stand out of the pack. The soup is a tasty coming together of herbs, beef, shrimp, pork, glass noodles, and a flavorful broth topped with a couple of soft quail eggs.

As far as I know, Saigon Bistro is the only Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest that serves banh cuon (€6), light rice-noodle rolls filled with minced pork and served with mint leaves and fish sauce (they're only available on Saturdays, or if you call in advance they will prepare it). And let’s not forget about the spring rolls (€2.5), which alone warrant a visit to Saigon Bistro - they're crispy with an intense porky taste; the best ones I’ve had in Budapest. I only wish the portions were a little heartier here.