Depending on your preferences, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, a pan-Asian eatery serving overpriced takeout food with little to show for its hype. Whichever side you're on, the fact is that Sáo operates at capacity every night of the week. Sure, paying the equivalent of €9 for a simple plate of fried rice with a few morsels of beef is excessive by Budapest standards, but there’s more to Sáo than food.
For example, since many local celebrities from the creative industries frequent Sáo, the place draws plenty of scene-chasers eager to rub shoulders with the chic crowd. Also, the design is original and fun: Sáo is likely the only restaurant in Budapest where densely packed bamboo bird cages hang from the ceiling. So, if you enjoy a see-and-be-seen crowd, loud music piping through the speakers, and being right in the center of Budapest’s party district, then try to score a reservation at Sáo.
The menu is a collection of uncomplicated but reliably prepared Vietnamese (pho, bun bo nam bo), Chinese (jiaozi, fried rice), and Japanese (moji) staples. I enjoyed most the steamed tapioca dumplings stuffed with minced pork and shrimp, the caramelized pork belly (thịt kho tàu), and the glutinous rice cake with chicken doused in a sweet-and-spicy soy-based sauce. Cash only!