Budapest's Chinese food scene is more than meets the eye. The inner city is teeming with low-priced takeouts that adjust flavors to local Hungarian tastes. The best Chinese restaurants are in Budapest’s Chinatown (Monori Center), where you can find everything from Sichuan food to dumpling shops, seafood restaurants, hot pot, and Chinese barbecue. Note that Chinese people eat dinner on the earlier side (around 6 p.m.), so plan accordingly if you prefer a lively ambiance over empty tables around you.
It’s usually a good sign when a Chinese restaurant is buried deep within the city’s Chinatown. You will need to journey out to Monori Center, a 15-minute cab ride from downtown, to find one of the best and priciest Chinese restaurants in Budapest: Spicy Fish. Spicy Fish's menu is divided between mouth-numbing Sichuan and milder Zhejiang dishes. The reason for the seemingly random gastronomic combination of two distant provinces is actually logical—Zhejiang is where most of Budapest's Chinese community hails from, and spicy Sichuan food is very popular currently..
Wenzhou-born owner of Milky Way Seafood Restaurant knows a thing or two about crustaceans. Not only because any self-respecting man from this seaside Chinese city can make a decent fish soup, but also since he worked at a fish market for 15 years before venturing into the restaurant business. Accordingly, Milky Way specializes in what he knows best: whole steamed lobsters, crabs, tiger prawns, shrimps, and carps. They cook live animals and use little seasoning to let the meats speak for themselves.
The farther from downtown, the better the food—this is the rule of thumb about Chinese restaurants in Budapest. Taiwan Restaurant, which opened in 1991, was one of the first elegant places to serve authentic Chinese flavors in the city. Nearly three decades later, it's still going strong, and worth leaving the city center (it's easy to get to by subway: take the M3 line to Nagyvárad tér). Taiwan's food is slightly adjusted to local tastes, but not so much to deter local Chinese residents, which is manifested by a full house most evenings with Asian patrons accounting for at least half of the crowd..
In the likely event that you've never been to a Chinese restaurant designed as a hunting lodge, here is your chance to do so. Momotaro Ramen's former occupant decorated the space with taxidermy and animal antlers redolent of a countryside estate's interior, and the current owner seems to find it a fitting theme to accent their Asian cuisine as well..
Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája is an authentic Sichuan restaurants 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. He is also a shrewd businessman and self-promoter, who adopted "Maestro" as his stage name, which earned him more legitimacy than any stellar resume could—to this day, his name is synonymous with top Chinese food in Budapest..
If you’re looking for tasty and wallet-friendly Chinese food in Budapest, HeHe is one of your best bets. They serve an array of authentic Chinese dishes from a relatively modest, undecorated space in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center), which takes about 25 minutes to get to by public transport from the city center. .
San Guo Zhi is a Dongbei-style barbecue restaurant in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center). The food of Dongbei, which is located in the northeastern part of China and was formerly known as Manchuria, reflects Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian influences and the cold climate, featuring hearty soups, lots of lamb, and more corn than rice. San Guo Zhi restaurant offers a fun DIY barbecue experience, where you cook your own skewers of raw ingredients over hot charcoal. Note that the interior is split into two, with the other side (on the right) operating as a hot pot restaurant, but you're best off sticking to their specialty, which is barbecue..
If you ever wondered what a Chinese breakfast was like, Hong Kong Büfé in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) offers a chance to find out. For less than €5, you can try classic Chinese breakfast staples here including cong you bing, congee, and youtiao. .
You may say that Budapest’s Chinatown (Monori Center) isn’t the most inviting of places, after all, who gets excited about decor-deprived restaurants amid rows of boring wholesale stores far outside the city center? (The answer: fans of Chinese food.) Shandong Restaurant is located on a particularly rundown section of the area, but I urge you not to turn your back on it. Similar to HeHe, this unpretentious space serves up some of the best and lowest-priced Chinese fare in Budapest. .
There are many theories about why it was China's Sichuan Province of all places where the gastronomic use of chili peppers was taken to a whole new level. Whatever the reason, Sichuan food has become synonymous with spicy and mouth-numbing flavors thanks to chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Apart from the places in Chinatown, Hange Restaurant serves some of the best Sichuan dishes in Budapest (Hange is also a bit outside the city center in District 9, but it's not as far as Chinatown). .
Chinatown Restaurant, which opened in 1991, was one of the first Chinese restaurants in Budapest. Although not in the city center, it's closer to downtown than other authentic Chinese places (the restaurant's name is misleading, because it isn't in Budapest's Chinatown). Be sure to take the main entrance, else you might end up in the takeout section, where cheaper, but watered-down dishes cater to local tastes and wallets. .
There is consensus within the local Chinese community that Dabao Jiaozi is the place to go for home-style dumplings in Budapest. This is quite a statement in a city where more than 30,000 Chinese people live. Before moving to its current location in Budapest's Chinatown, Dabao was a takeout-only venue hidden on in a beaten-down commerical building. .
Daohuaxiang fuses two contemporary Chinese food trends: spicy food and hot potting. The restaurant draws inspiration from the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, known as the birthplace of spicy hotpot, the communal cooking experience whereby people sit around a boiling broth and cook various meats and vegetables for themselves. Daohuaxiang is a 10-minute cab ride from Budapest's city center, located inside an oversized, utilitarian dining room. .
A landlocked country like Hungary isn’t kind to chefs with seafood ambitions. Particularly one where the fish and seafood consumption is the lowest within the EU. Yet a Chinese couple from Wenzhou, the port city along the East China Sea coast, decided to open Yan Jiang Nan (Fecskék), a restaurant in Budapest's Chinatown specializing in saltwater fish. Their goal is to bring the nuanced flavors of their native land to Budapest’s sizeable Wenzhounese community, and the occasional Hungarian patrons.
For an interactive, communal dining experience, consider visiting Wang Fu (Mimóza), a long-standing Chinese restaurant a bit outside Budapest's city center. Wang Fu's specialty is hot potting, and their system works like this: first, you choose the ingredients from the two oversized fridges by the entrance, containing a countless variety of meats and vegetables. In the meantime, servers will prepare the cooking broths at your table. The fun begins when you start dipping the ingredients into the hot liquid for anywhere from a few seconds (raw beef) to several minutes (noodles).
Opened over two decades ago, Kilenc Sárkány Étterem (“Nine Dragons Restaurant”) is a long-established Chinese restaurant in Budapest. They carry two sets of menus, so be sure the waitstaff hands you the one for Chinese patrons, otherwise you’re in for watered-down dishes adjusted to “European tastes.” .