The 11 Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Budapest

For historical reasons, Budapest has a sizable northern Vietnamese community (communist Hungary accepted immigrants from the north) with restaurants to match. Unfortunately, many places limit their offerings to dishes they believe Hungarian diners can handle. But the places below stand out from the sea of Budapest's pho restaurants, also serving Vietnamese staples like com dia (over-rice dishes), banh cuon (steamed rice rolls), bun cha (grilled pork and noodle), canh chua (sour soups), ca kho to (caramelized fish), and banh xèo (sizzling pancake).

#1 Saigon Bistro

Lined with Thai, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants near one another, Budapest’s sleepy Szondi Street in District 6 is a paradise of international food. Saigon Bistro, a humble, takeout-looking spot, is one of the few Southern Vietnamese places in Budapest — Hungary took immigrants from the communist north during the Vietnam War — which means that the dishes here are more gussied up with garnishes and sweeter flavors than elsewhere.

#2 Dang Muoi (Attila Street)

Dang Muoi is a small family-owned Vietnamese restaurant chain with three locations across Budapest. My favorite one lines the car-saturated Attila út in Buda (with little foot traffic, it's not exactly a restaurateur's dream location). Don't expect on-trend mid-century furnishings or a hip ambiance — it's the food that takes center stage here.

#3 Quán Nón Restaurant

A sleek dining space, trilingual menus, and a prime downtown location aren't usually hallmarks of Budapest's modest, mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurants. Not so with Quán Nón. The standout dish here is the bun cha (€6), a northern Vietnamese staple of grilled pork patties paired with rice vermicelli and the sweet-sour nước chấm dressing. The pork arrives perfectly marinated and with splotches of char from the grill.

#4 Oriental Soup House

Oriental Soup House is a hopping Vietnamese restaurant in Újlipótváros, a residential neighborhood a bit outside the city center. As soon as you enter, you'll notice the Asian cooks scurrying behind the open kitchen, always a good sign for a Vietnamese restaurant. The menu features 11 types of soups, of which the traditional beef pho (pho bo; €6) sporting a gleaming, flavorful broth is among the best I've had in Budapest, especially if you get it with thinly sliced tenderloins that quickly cook through in the steaming broth.

#5 Hanoi Xua (Ernő Street)

Hanoi Xua is a Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest best known for its extensive soup selections and above-average fried rice dishes. The place occupies the ground floor of a residential apartment building in the outer part of District 9, once a seedy neighborhood but now rapidly transforming thanks to moneyed international medical students at the nearby Semmelweis University.

#6 Hanoi Pho Budapest

Hanoi Pho’s moniker is misleading because their pho soup is hardly the reason to visit this Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Budapest’s downtown near the Hungarian Parliament building. With a chef duo representing both ends of Vietnam — one of them is from Hanoi, the other Saigon — the restaurant brings rarely seen Vietnamese dishes to Budapest. For example, you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere banh xèo (€8), a delicious sizzling savory pancake made from rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, and folded with shrimp, lettuce, and bean sprouts.

#7 Hú Lù Lu

Hú Lù Lu is a small Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest’s party district, the type of place where the food speaks louder than the decor (always the better combination). Two Vietnamese-Hungarian twentysomethings, originally from Nghệ An in north-central Vietnam, set out to serve up dishes from their home region alongside Vietnamese classics.

#8 Sáo Budapest

Depending on your taste, you might describe Sáo as the hottest restaurant in town or, alternatively, as an overpriced pan-Asian eatery serving takeout food with little to show for the hype. Whichever side you're on, the fact is that Sáo operates at capacity every night of the week. Sure, €9 for a simple plate of fried rice with a few morsels of beef is excessive by Budapest standards, but there’s more to Sáo than food. For example, a tropical decor complete with lush greenery and bamboo bird cages hanging from the ceiling. Given that one of Sáo's owners is a fashion designer, local celebrities from the creative industries often show up here, in turn drawing scene-chasers eager to rub shoulders with the chic crowd. So, if you enjoy a hopping spot with loud music piping through the speakers and being right in the center of Budapest’s party district, Sáo is your kind of place.

#9 Vietnami Speciális Melegkonyha

Vietnami Speciális Melegkonyha is a bare-bones restaurant outside the city center serving Vietnamese dishes you're unlikely to find elsewhere in Budapest. Location is the only downside: it takes about 20 minutes by car to get here from downtown, but at least you'll discover the less-traveled parts of Budapest. The owners took over the space from an Italian restaurant without redoing the interior, hence the bizarre Tuscan countryside wall paintings.

#10 Hai Nam Pho Bistro

Located on the Buda side of Budapest, Hai Nam is one of, if not the most popular Vietnamese restaurants for local Hungarians in the city. The Vietnamese owners here tend to adjust the dishes of the short menu to local tastes, which can mean that flavorful cuts are swapped out for less fatty meats as in the case of the bun cha (€6), normally a mound of delicious grilled pork belly.

#11 KHAN

In 2015, three young Vietnamese-Hungarians with a passion for cooking and a background in fashion and design launched a trendy Asian-fusion restaurant, Sáo, in the tourist-packed Jewish Quarter of Budapest. Spurred by Sáo's success, they later opened KHAN, another chic, Instragram-friendly venue, situated within the residential Újlipótváros neighborhood a bit outside the city center.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.