Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája

If you get the impression that Budapest is swarming with alarmingly cheap, Chinese take-out places serving questionable food, you aren't that far from the truth. But Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája isn't one of those places. Instead, it's one of the better Sichuan restaurants of Budapest, located in the peaceful Zugló neighborhood a bit outside central Budapest and near the City Park.

The owner, Wang Qiang, was among the first restaurateurs in the early '90s to introduce unadjusted Chinese food to locals in Budapest, who had previously been conditioned to toned-down dishes at the dime a dozen neighborhood take-out joints. Mr. Qiang is also a shrewd self-promoter, having early realized that adopting the stage name "Maestro Wang" will buy him more legitimacy than any stellar resume could - to this day he's the face of Chinese food for most Budapesters.

The long menu at Wang Mester centers around Sichuan classics, prepared reliably but without flourish. If you don't mind offals, go for the cold appetizer of sliced beef tripe, tongue, and heart, all swimming in a manageably spicy bowl of chili oil. Of the mains, you can't go wrong with the la zi ji chicken, the dan dan noodles, or the suan la fen sweet potato noodles. Portions at Wang Mester are smaller, spicy levels more muted compared with other Sichuan restaurants in Budapest. This is likely because of the customers, who are predominantly local Hungarians here.

If you feel like walking off the calories after your meal, I recommend a stroll around the quaint Zugló neighborhood teeming with beautiful residential homes, particularly the section closer to the park (Hermina, Ilka, and Jávor Streets).