Budapest's Chinese food scene is more than meets the eye. The inner city is teeming with low-priced Chinese takeouts that adjust the flavors to local Hungarian tastes. But there do exist excellent Chinese restaurants, too. Many are in Monori Center, also known as Budapest’s Chinatown. Be it Sichuan cuisine, dim sum, hot pots, Dongbei-style barbecue, or some other recent Chinese food trend you're after, you will find it all there.
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 simply 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 is expected to make a decent fish soup, it’s also that 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 ingredients speak for themselves.
The farther from downtown, the better the food - this is the rule of thumb in Budapest about Chinese restaurants. When Taiwan Restaurant opened in 1991, it was one of the first places to serve authentic Chinese flavors. Nearly three decades later, it's still among the best of the more elegant Chinese restaurants in Budapest, 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 taste preferences, but not so much as to deter local Chinese residents from coming here.
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. Surprisingly, the current owner seems to find it a fitting theme to accent their Asian cuisine as well..
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. .
If you’re looking for tasty and wallet-friendly Chinese food, HeHe is one of your best bets in Budapest. The restaurant serves authentic Chinese dishes from a relatively modest, undecorated space in Monori Center in Budapest's Chinatown, which takes about 25 minutes to get to by public transport from the city center. .
San Guo Zhi is a Dongbei-style barbecue restaurant that opened in 2017 in the increasingly diverse food paradise of Budapest's Chinatown in Monori Center. Dongbei is the northeastern part of China, formerly known as Manchuria. The region's food reflects Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian influences, as well as the cold climate - it's heavy on lamb, hearty warm soups, and corn and wheat instead of rice..
If you ever wondered what Chinese breakfast was like, Hong Kong Büfé in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) offers a chance to find out. For less than €5, you will be able to taste classic Chinese breakfast staples here like jianbings, congee, and youtiao. .
Yes, you could argue that Budapest’s Chinatown (Monori Center) isn’t the most inviting of places. After all, who gets excited about strip mall-like rows of boring warehouses that are far outside the city center? The answer is, of course, that fans of Chinese food do. Shandong Restaurant is located in a rundown section of the area, but I urge you not to turn your back on it. Similar to HeHe, this modest, unpretentious space serves up some of the best and most wallet-friendly Chinese fare in Budapest.
There are many theories about why it was Sichuan Province in China of all places where cooking with 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 both chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Apart from the places in Budapest's Chinatown, Hange Restaurant serves some of the best Sichuan dishes in the city (Hange is also situated 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 most other authentic Chinese restaurants that are in Budapest's Chinatown (Chinatown Restaurant's name is misleading, because it isn't located in Chinatown) . .
There is an overwhelming consensus among the local Chinese community that Dabao Jiaozi is the best place 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 in 2018, Dabao was a takeout-only venue hidden on the upper floor of a beaten-down commerical building. .
Daohuaxiang Restaurant fuses two popular 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. Daohuaxiang is a 10-minute cab ride from Budapest's city center, located inside an oversized, utilitarian dining room devoid of design elements. .
A landlocked country like Hungary isn’t kind to chefs with seafood ambitions. Particularly one where the fish and seafood consumption is the lowest in 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 customers.
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 raw ingredients from the 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).
Kilenc Sárkány Étterem (“Nine Dragons Restaurant”) is a long-established Chinese restaurant in Budapest, opened over two decades ago. They carry two sets of menus, so make sure the waitstaff hands you the one for the Chinese patrons, otherwise you’re in for watered-down dishes adjusted to “European tastes”. Most items on the long menu originate from China’s Zhejiang province, more specifically Wenzhou, the home to many Chinese immigrants in Hungary. .