Lined with Thai, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants near one another, Budapest’s sleepy Szondi Street in District 6 is a paradise of international food. Saigon Bistro, a humble, takeout-looking spot, is one of the few Southern Vietnamese places in Budapest — Hungary took immigrants from the communist north during the Vietnam War — which means that the dishes here are more gussied up with garnishes and sweeter flavors than elsewhere.
Although Vietnam’s national dish, the pho (€5), will not disappoint, it's the “Saigon soup” (hủ tiếu; €6) that sings. Imagine a steaming bowl of concentrated broth packing fresh herbs like parsley, mint, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass, and also beef, shrimp, pork, and glass noodles. All this is then topped with a couple of soft quail eggs. That's right. I only wish the portion was a little heartier.
Alone in Budapest, Saigon Bistro also serves banh cuon (€6), 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). And let’s not forget about the crispy and porcine spring rolls, which are among the best I’ve had in Budapest.
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