Budapest’s sleepy Szondi Street in District 6, lined with Thai, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants near one another, is a paradise of ethnic cuisine. One of them, 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), meaning that the dishes pack more herbs, 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 thanks to a great coming together of bean sprouts, parsley, mint, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass, beef, shrimp, pork, and glass noodles, inside a concentrated broth topped with a couple of soft quail eggs. That's right. I only wish the portion was a little heartier.
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). And let’s not forget about the crispy and porky spring rolls (€2.5), which are among the best I’ve had in Budapest.