The 11 Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Budapest

Communist Hungary accepted immigrants from northern Vietnam and still today Budapest has a sizable Vietnamese community 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).

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.

Although Vietnam’s national dish, the pho, will not disappoint, it's the “Saigon soup” (hủ tiếu) that sings. Imagine a steaming bowl of concentrated broth packing parsley, mint, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass, and also beef, shrimp, pork, and glass noodles. All this topped with a couple of soft quail eggs. I only wish the portion was a little heartier. Alone in Budapest, Saigon Bistro also serves banh cuon, rice-noodle rolls filled with minced pork (they're only available on Saturdays, or if you call in advance).

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.

While many customers stick to pho, fried rice plates, and spring rolls — which are all good — don't sleep on the bun cha, intensely flavorful strips of grilled pork belly garnished with fresh herbs and rice noodles. A rarely seen Vietnamese dish in Budapest is the thit heo quay, a Chinese-style crispy roast pork served with steamed rice and fish sauce. Note that Dang Muoi often gets mobbed by diners so try booking in advance.

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, 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.

Broken rice, cơm tấm, is another rarely seen Vietnamese classic of roast pork with rice (its name comes from the broken grains of rice that Vietnamese famers couldn’t sell and had to eat themselves). The beef pho will also not disappoint. Prices are reasonable for the quality of food and the central location — if you’re looking for a relatively formal Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Budapest, Quán Nón is a great option.

Oriental Soup House is a hopping Vietnamese restaurant in Újlipótváros, a residential neighborhood a bit outside the city center. An army of Asian cooks stands behind the open kitchen, preparing one of the eleven types of soups, of which the traditional beef pho (pho bo) is the best I've had in Budapest with a gleaming, flavorful, steaming broth in which flot thinly sliced cuts of tenderloin.

The bun cha, grilled pork patties with springy rice noodles and a profusion of fresh herbs and vegetables, is wonderfully refreshing. Round out your meal with a Vietnamese chè dessert, a luscious tapioca pudding with mango and pomegranate seeds. Try booking in advance otherwise you may have to sit at one of the long communal tables in the middle of the space on backless wooden stools.

After your meal, roam the neighborhood, known for its modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, especially those along Pozsonyi út, the main artery of the area. Note that Oriental Soup House has another location in downtown, but this one, in Balzac utca, draws more locals.

Hanoi Xua is an unpretentious 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.

Hanoi Xua’s hefty menu, bound in hardcover, lists 12 types of soups, including those with pho (flat rice), bun (round rice) and mien ("glass") noodles. I most enjoyed the bun bo hue, a chili-laced spicy version from central Vietnam, and the mien bo glass noodles with beef, both arriving in a rich, flavorful broth. The bun cha and the spring and summer rolls didn't leave much of an impression; you're better off going for the perfectly oily fried rice dishes instead. Big eaters can round things out with the tapioca pearls perched in a coconut pudding (chè).

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, a delicious sizzling savory pancake made from rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, and folded with shrimp, lettuce, and bean sprouts.

Apart from Vietnamese classics, the long menu also features reliable Japanese, Thai, and Chinese dishes. Similar to Quán Nón, Hanoi Pho is one of the more elegant Vietnamese restaurants in Budapest that works well for business dinners and other formal occasions despite the subterranean space.

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.

The highlight is the bún bò Huế, a chili-laced spicy noodle soup from central Vietnam sporting herbs, thin slices of beef shank, and Vietnamese ham. The classic pho soups — available with beef, chicken, and shrimp — are of the milder, northern Vietnamese variety. The bun cha, a noodle dish with a grilled pork patty and a mound of herbs, will also not disappoint. Also here: fried rice, dumplings, and Vietnamese drip coffee, both iced and hot.

Sáo is a chic pan-Asian restaurant located alarmingly close to the tourist-heavy center of Budapest’s party district (Gozsdu Udvar). The menu is a collection of uncomplicated but reliably prepared Vietnamese (pho, bun bo nam bo), Chinese (dumplings, fried rice, sticky rice cakes), Thai (green papaya salad, curries), and Japanese (moji) classics. But there’s more to Sáo than food: a striking decor complete with tropical greenery and bamboo bird cages hanging from the ceiling – a testament to the aesthetic sensibilities of the owners, who double as fashion designers. If you enjoy a hip spot with loud music and solid dishes, Sáo could be the place for you. €10-15 mains.

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 to 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.

There are two flawlessly prepared Vietnamese comfort dishes that can make a trek out here worthwhile. One of them is an oversized bowl of canh chua sour soup, a bright, tamarind-laced broth containing pineapple, tomato, and baby clams. The other is the Southern Vietnamese ca kho to, a fillet of braised catfish arriving in a clay pot and smothered in a sweet-tart sauce. Watch out for the bones! The pho is of the traditional northern variety, served in a flavorful broth that speaks of long hours of cooking.

Located on the Buda side of Budapest, Hai Nam is the most popular Vietnamese restaurant for local Hungarians in the city. Like it or not, the Vietnamese owners adjust the dishes to local tastes, which can mean that flavorful cuts are swapped out for less fatty meats as in the case of the bun cha, normally a mound of delicious grilled pork belly.

Hai Nam's speciality is the beef pho, which is wonderful indeed: The soup arrives in an aromatic broth packing slippery rice noodles, slow-cooked shanks (or thinly sliced sirloins), and a drizzle of bean sprouts, chives, and cilantro. I was less taken by the the spring rolls, which lacked the porky flavor and the crunchy crust.

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.

Here, too, a striking interior complete with contemporary art, sleek wood finishes, concrete columns, and Asian collectibles is positively overwhelming. And here, too, the dishes are a collection of slightly overpriced and unremarkable pan-Asian staples ranging from dumplings to pho soups to tempura to fried rice to fried noodles.

If a buzzing spot focused on visual impressions — food is served in beautifully hand-crafted Vietnamese ceramic bowls — gets you going, you'll likely enjoy Khan. Otherwise, you can also explore some of Budapest's more under-the-radar Asian restaurants that serve more adventurous dishes at lower price points (see the best Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese restaurants).