Depending on your preferences, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, as an overpriced pan-Asian eatery serving 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, €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, decor—with lots of greenery and bamboo bird cages hanging from the ceiling, the tropical interior feels edgy and playful. Since one of the owners is a fashion designer, local celebrities from the creative industries often show up here, in turn drawing scene-chasers eager to rub shoulders with the chic crowd. So, if you enjoy a hopping spot, loud music piping through the speakers, and being right in the center of Budapest’s party district, Sáo is your kind of place.

The menu is a collection of uncomplicated but reliably-prepared Vietnamese (pho, bun bo nam bo), Chinese (jiaozi, sticky rice cakes, fried rice), and Japanese (moji) staples. I most enjoyed the steamed tapioca dumplings stuffed with minced pork and shrimp (€5), the caramelized pork belly (thịt kho tàu; €9), and the rice cake with chicken and a sweet-and-spicy soy-based sauce (€9). Cash only!

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.