The 13 Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Budapest

While Budapest has a sizeable Vietnamese community, the city unfortunately isn’t flooded with exceedingly good Vietnamese restaurants. For historical reasons, most places serve exclusively northern-Vietnamese fare—communist Hungary accepted immigrants from north—and even those dishes are limited in range to meet what the owners believe Hungarian diners can handle. The places below, however, 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)

Excellent restaurants often turn up in the most unlikely places. Dang Muoi is situated on a noisy, car-saturated road in Buda with little foot traffic—not exactly a restaurateur's dream location. In the 1990s, Dang Muoi started as a small food stall on the other side of the Danube and has since expanded into three locations across Budapest, having found the way to Hungarians' hearts and stomachs. Don't expect trendy 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 are not usually hallmarks of Budapest's normally humble, 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) with 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 Parliament building. With a chef duo representing both ends of Vietnam — one of them is from Hanoi, the other Saigon — the restaurant's claim to fame is bringing 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 Vietnami Speciális Melegkonyha

Vietnami Speciális Melegkonyha is a bare-bones restaurant outside the city center serving traditional Vietnamese dishes you won't 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, resulting in bizarre interior complete with Gothic windows and a Tuscan countryside.

#8 Hú Lù Lu

Hú Lù Lu is a modest-looking 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 typical Vietnamese classics.

#9 Funky Pho

Funky Pho is a teeny-tiny soup shop hiding in a side street off Andrássy Avenue in Budapest's District 6. The place makes some of the best pho soups in Budapest, which is saying a lot in a city flooded with them. The small space, which has only two tables and less than ten counter seats, goes for a chic street-food look complete with pop-art wall paintings and conical hats hanging from the ceiling.

#10 Sáo Budapest

Depending on what you're into, 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, €8 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.

#11 Bánh Mì

Budapest’s District 7 may be known as the city’s party district, but its burgeoning and increasingly diverse food scene may give that title a run for its money. A young Vietnamese couple—one of them first, the other a second generation Vietnamese-Hungarian—set up shop in 2018, after seeing locals' fondness for Vietnamese food. But instead of yet another pho shop, they launched a bánh mì joint, specializing in the iconic French-Vietnamese sandwiches, the first of its kind in Budapest.

#12 Hai Nam Pho Bistro

Hai Nam Pho Bistro is what happens when ethnic cuisine becomes a victim of too much "localization." The Vietnamese owners here believe that the food must be adjusted to local tastes, a perfectly reasonable theory that can spawn inventive dishes, but at Hai Nam they simply avoid flavorful cuts of fatty meats and traditional Vietnamese dishes that they deem unpalatable to Hungarians. For example, the bun cha (€6), normally a mound of flavorful pork belly, is a forlorn-looking affair of lean meat; the spring roll (€2), another Vietnamese staple, lacks that coveted porky flavor and crunchy crust.

#13 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 in 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.