The 14 Best Chinese Restaurants in Budapest

Budapest's Chinese restaurants offer more than meets the eye. While the inner city is teeming with low-priced takeouts that adjust flavors to local Hungarian tastes, there's a nondescript Chinatown (Monori Center) a bit outside the city center where you can sample everything from Sichuan food to northern noodle soups, hot pot, dumplings, seafood, 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 to empty tables around you.

It’s usually a good sign when a Chinese restaurant is buried deep within Chinatown and this is exactly the case with Spicy Fish, one of the top Chinese restaurants in Budapest — to get to it, you'll need to journey out to Monori Center, a 15-minute cab ride from downtown. Spicy Fish's menu features dishes from all parts of China, but especially prominent are seafood and the hot plates from Sichuan (the head chef is from there).

Sichuan classics like Chongqing spicy chicken (lazi ji), mapo tofu, and yuxiang shredded pork (fish-fragrant pork) are all excellent, but the star of the show is the namesake spicy fish (shui zhu yu). Soon after you place an order, a server will bring a tureen brimming with still-boiling oil studded with red chilis, shreds of white carp filets, and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. If you prefer something without chilis and don't mind a post-meal food coma, go for the Dongpo pork, a thick cut of fall-apart-tender pork belly with a deeply porcine flavor. With €18-25 mains, the only downside here is the steep price points.

There exist many theories why it was China's Sichuan Province of all places where chili peppers have reached an absurd level of intensity. Whatever the reason, Sichuan food has become synonymous with spicy and mouth-numbing flavors thanks to the generous use of chilis and Sichuan peppercorns. In Budapest, if you don't feel like trekking out to the city's Chinatown, Hange Restaurant will satisfy your cravings for red pepper-laden dishes. Hange too is a bit outside downtown, occupying the ground floor of a modern office building in District 9.

Start your meal with the cold chicken in chili oil; a dusting of Sichuan peppercorns will leave your lips tingling comfortably. I've had wonderful vegetarian mapo tofu here — soft and silky cubes of white tofu swimming in a sea of mildly spicy chili bean paste. Many local Chinese order the lazi ji, a fiery Sichuan classic packing bits of stir-fried chicken thighs smothered in dried chilis. The kung pao chicken and the yuxiang shredded pork are special treats, especially for local Hungarians who're used to their adulterated versions served in downtown takeouts.

Hange draws both office workers from the neighboring buildings and well-heeled Chinese people for the a la carte dinner menu. Mains are €13-20.

If you’re looking for tasty and affordable Chinese food in Budapest, HeHe is one of your best bets. The restaurant serves an array of excellent Chinese dishes from a modest, undecorated space in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center), reachable in 25 minutes from the city center by public transport.

The dishes are inspired by all parts of China, but the main focus is Sichuan, meaning that most plates are spicy. My favorites include the sizzling black pepper beef, the hot cabbage salad with sprinkles of roasted pork belly (ganguobaocai), the classic dan dan noodles, and the double-cooked pork belly (hui guo rou). If you come with a bigger group, order the whole carp, arriving in a boiling chili oil drizzled with Sichuan peppercorns (shui zhu yu).

HeHe's other claim to fame is the Lanzhou-style hand-pulled (lamian) and shaved (dao xiao mian) beef noodle soups. You can peek through the kitchen door and watch the noodle chef swiftly transforming the wheat flour into perfectly linear rows of white noodles and depositing them into the boiling broth.

HeHe is one of the few Chinese restaurants in Budapest that serves breakfast, too. Chinese employees from Monori Center flock here early in the mornings for affordable deep-fried dough sticks (youtiao), steamed buns, pickled vegetables, hard-boiled duck eggs, and warm soy milk.

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 because 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. The restaurant cooks live animals and uses little seasoning to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Milky Way's standout dish is the whole steamed lobster, that is, if you're willing to shell out €90 for one (Hungary is a landlocked country, so it's expensive to source live seafood from Western Europe and Italy). Another popular item is the steamed pike perch (€35) with a light sprinkle of fresh leeks and scallions. Both of them will feed at least a couple of people. Among the wallet-friendlier options is the fish soup, with bits of octopus and surimi crab inside a rich chicken broth boosted by noodles, eggs, bok choy, and shiitake. Apart from seafood, Milky Way serves an excellent Peking duck, too, enough for two or three people.

Even among the under-the-radar Chinese restaurants in Budapest's Chinatown, Milky Way has taken secrecy to the next level. You'll need to weave your way through a courtyard parking lot, then climb two flights of stairs to reach the restaurant's banquet hall adorned with karaoke equipment. Six private dining rooms occupy the back of the space, from where Chinese customers occasionally stumble out in an alcohol-fueled stupor on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Wang Mester Kínai Konyhája is a 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 Budapest locals. He is also a savvy businessman and self-promoter who adopted "Maestro" as his stage name, earning him more legitimacy than any stellar resume could — to this day, his name is synonymous with top Chinese food in Budapest.

The Sichuan classics 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 chili oil (kou shui feipian). Of the mains, you can't go wrong with the signature la zi ji chicken, the dan dan noodles, or, for two people, the carp fillets drowned in boiling chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns (shui zhu yu). Portions are smaller and spicy levels more muted than at Spicy Fish, another Sichuan restaurant with a similar profile, likely because Wang Mester draws more Hungarian patrons. Mains are €18-30.

If you feel like walking off the calories after your meal, I recommend a stroll around this scenic residential neighborhood teeming with grand, pre-war residential homes, particularly the area closer to the City Park.

Taiwan, which opened in 1991, was one of the first Chinese restaurants in Budapest to serve unadultered Chinese food and nearly three decades hence it's still going strong. Since most customers here are Hungarians, the dishes are slightly adjusted to local tastes but not distractingly so.

Taiwan's menu covers many parts of China, but their claim-to-fame is the Peking duck (€40), which, depending on your appetite, can feed anywhere from two to three people. Following the Chinese custom, a waiter carves the bird table-side, pairing it with sides of fresh cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce. All you need to do is wrap them into a mini pancake and enjoy the feast. For a post-meal snack, ask your server to have the duck bones, with precious bites of meats still attached to them, be deep-fried in a light batter (it's free of charge).

Apart from the duck, the dim sums are also reliably good and I enjoyed the simple and flavorful hot and sour soup, which is a far cry from those served in downtown takeouts.

Budapest’s Chinatown (Monori Center) isn’t the most fashionable place, after all, who gets excited about decor-deprived rows of warehouses far outside the city center? The obvious answer: fans of Chinese food. Shandong Restaurant is located on a particularly rundown section, but I urge you not to turn your back on it. Similar to HeHe, this unpretentious space serves up some of the best Chinese fare in Budapest.

Inside, Chinese families sit around round tables while Mandarin chatter drifts from the TV. Although the owners are from Shandong province, the food reflects many parts of China. One of the best things is the sweet-and-sour pork (tang cu li ji), a dish you will find in every Chinese restaurant but here the sauce hits the all the right notes — not cloyingly sweet and perfectly bright-tasting — and the meat is tender and crispy.

Groups of three or four should order the bone-in chicken dry pot (gan guo ji), an entire bird chopped into small pieces and served with vegetables. Use the the electric griddle placed before you to cook it through in the creamy, soy-based sauce (give it a good ten minutes). If you’d prefer something more familiar, the dumplings will not disappoint. Note that Shandong usually shuts down for February during the Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong Büfé is a small, decor-deprived eatery within Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) best known for its Chinese breakfast foods like cong you bing, congee, and youtiao, but they also serve excellent and wallet-friendly lunch dishes, too.

The highlights of the pan-Chinese menu are the slightly spicy and amazingly reviving Chongqing noodle soup (chong qing xiao mian), the stir-fried rice cakes with chicken (chao nian gao), and the twice-cooked pork belly (hui guo rou). The pork buns stacked behind the glass are ideal for snacking; as are the cooked chicken feet, if you're feeling adventurous.

Don't let Hong Kong Büfé's unpretentious, plain interior intimidate you. Similar to HeHe and Shandong, this place is immensely popular among local Chinese people, which is the only stamp of approval a Chinese restaurant really needs.

There's consensus within the local Chinese community that Dabao Jiaozi is the place to head to for home-style dumplings in Budapest — quite a statement in a city with more than 30,000 Chinese people. Dabao makes Shandong-style dumplings, which means the wrappers are a bit thicker and chewier. There's only two versions; both with a base filling of ground pork and shrimp, one packing napa cabbage, the other shredded Chinese chives. I'm slightly in favor of the chive-version, but there isn't much of a flavor difference and they're both very good.

Located within Budapest's Chinatown, DaBao is mainly a takeout joint but there are some tables for sitdown customers. While waiting for your order, cast a glance at the kitchen where you'll see a cheery group of Chinese ladies hunched over a mound of dough, flattening, stuffing, and folding it with incredible efficiency. An order comprises 15 pieces, which will easily appease the average appetite and cost about €10. Dabao also serves noodle soups, but you're mainly here for the dumpings.

In case you've never been to a Chinese restaurant designed as a hunting lodge, here is your chance. Momotaro's former occupant decorated the space with taxidermy and animal antlers and the current owner seems to find it a fitting theme to accent their Chinese cuisine as well. Momotaro is among the top-tier Chinese restaurants in Budapest, serving traditional pan-Chinese dishes with a focus on dim sums.

My go-to order here is the xiaolongbao soup dumplings, thin-skinned steamed buns filled with soup and minced pork. Another standout is the Taiwanese-stlye savory turnip cake (luo bo gao), spongy nuggets made from rice flour, daikon radish, and minced dried shrimp. The soups are light Chinese-style noodle soups rather than heavy ramens.

Momotaro is currently one of the few Chinese restaurants in Budapest's downtown — for most others, you'll need to journey out to Budapest's Chinatown, a 15-minute cab ride from the city center — and it's also near several tourist attractions like the Hungarian Parliament building and Liberty Square.

Mandarin Grill and Hotpot is a DIY Chinese restaurant in Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center). The restaurant specializes in the food of Dongbei, a region in northeastern China, reflecting Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian influences and a cold climate. The restaurant is split into two: the right-hand side booths are for hot potting, the left section is for self-made barbecue.

If you go with barcbecue, which I recommend, you'll first need to select your ingredients — raw meats and vegetables — from a computer tablet. You can ask an English-speaking server for assistance. The choices range from chicken thigh to pork ribs, lamb chops, gizzard, pork offals, and even bull’s penis (it tastes like a gelatinous rice cake; in China they believe in its libido-enhancing powers). It pays off the go with a mixed assortment. Once the skewers arrive, all you need to do is monitor them until they're cooked through over the hot charcoal before you.

Each skewer costs a few euros and anywhere from seven to nine pieces are sufficient. Be sure to also order a bowl of geda tang soup, a wonderfully reviving traditional Chinese thick vegetable soup strewn with pinched wheat dumplings.

Aranytál restaurant 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 where people sit around a boiling broth and cook for themselves an array of meats and vegetables. Daohuaxiang is a 10-minute cab ride away from Budapest's city center, located on the ground floor of an drab, oversized dining room.

This is the drill: first, you'll need to select 5-10 raw ingredients from the fridge standing in the middle of the space. Mutton, a signature hot-pot meat, is served in paper-thin slices and needs only a quick dunk in the hot liquid before turning light grey and dissolving in the mouth. Otherwise, shrimp, meatballs, tofu, and some vegetables like bok choy and mushrooms are all you need. If you don't mind offals, try also the spicy beef tripe, another hot-pot favorite in China. Unless specified differently, the staff will bring you a split pot for the broths, one a mild chicken stock, the other, teeming with chili, the opposite.

Daohuaxiang isn't cheap — if you get too excited about all that’s to try, you can easy rack up a bill of €40 per person or so (the color of the bowls denotes price categories). It's most economical to go with a bigger group. Also, as with other Chinese restaurants, try to go on the earlier side, around 6:30 p.m., before the restaurant clears out.

If you like Chinese pancake and are curious about an offbeat part of the city, head to this tiny takeout shop buried deep within the Kőbányai Piac, one of Budapest’s two Chinatowns. Known as jianbing and originating in northern China, these savory crepes are a beloved street food across China. Here, a Chinese lady will help you customize your order and freshly prepare it on a cast iron griddle before you. Many versions exist but eggs, fried crackers, hoisin sauce, and a drizzle of cilantro and scallions are standard ingredients. I also like to add pork floss and sausage for a protein boost. The result is a crispy bundle of flavor bomb (eat it while it's hot).

If you're feeling adventurous, try also some of the Chinese snacks laid out behind the glass: stir-fried duck's head, gizzard, tripe, and other offals. The trickiest part is finding this place; here's my best attempt at explaining it: take bus #9 to Kőbányai út 31., then walk back toward the city center for a few minutes until you reach a small entry to the market between warehouses #25 and #27. Enter the market here. Walk all the way down until you hit a store with a blue "D&D" sign. Turn left, then turn right, and you'll see Jin Yi Shu Shi on your left. I know what you're thinking, but jianbings are worth the hassle.

For a communal dining experience in Budapest, consider visiting Wang Fu (Mimóza), a long-standing Chinese hot pot restaurant a bit outside the city center. First, you'll need to choose the ingredients from two oversized fridges located by the entrance and containing a countless variety of raw 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).

Selecting the winning combination from the hundred or so options can be overwhelming. The popular choices include the classic shaved mutton (a staple of hot pot), shrimp, squid, fish ball, different types of tofu, shiitake (or other types of mushroom), lotus root, napa cabbage, and bok choy. If you like offals, also get chicken gizzard and pork blood, which go well with the peanut-based dipping sauce.

Wang Fu's default broth comes in a split pot with a light chicken broth and a somewhat spicier version enhanced by chili paste and chili oil. Toward the end of the meal, the broth transforms into a rich soup from absorbing all the flavors. For dinner, come on the earlier side (before 7 p.m.) for the liveliest ambience.