Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája

If you get the impression that Budapest is swarming with alarmingly cheap, Chinese takeouts that serve questionable food, you aren't that far from the truth. The good news is that Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája isn't one of those places. Instead, it's an authentic Sichuan restaurants, located in the residential Zugló neighborhood, a bit outside the city center.

The Chinese owner, Wang Qiang, was among the first restaurateurs in the early '90s to introduce unadjusted Chinese food to locals in Budapest. Mr. Qiang also happens to be a shrewd businessman and self-promoter. He realized early on that adopting "Maestro Wang" as his stage name will earn him more legitimacy than any stellar resume could. Lo and behold, to this day, his name is synonymous with good Chinese food for most people in Budapest.

Wang Mester's long menu centers around Sichuan classics that are prepared reliably but without flourish. If you don't mind offals, try the cold appetizer of sliced beef tripe, tongue, and heart, all swimming in a manageably spicy bowl of chili oil (kou shui feipian; €7). Of the mains, you can't go wrong with the la zi ji chicken (€12), the dan dan noodles (€6), or, for two people, the boiled carp in chilies and Sichuan peppercorns (shui zhu yu; €20). The portions at Wang Mester are smaller, the spicy levels more muted compared with Spicy Fish, another Chinese restaurant with a similar profile. This is likely because many of Wang's customers are local Hungarians.

If you feel like walking off the calories after your meal, I recommend a stroll around this peaceful neighborhood teeming with grand, pre-war residential homes, particularly in the section closer to the City Park (Hermina, Ilka, and Jávor Streets).