10+1 Best Asian Restaurants in Buda
- 14 Apr 2023 3:02 PM
Óbuda was always a hub for quality Japanese eateries but its hard-won status as a media centre has encouraged adventurous restaurateurs to set up in its various nooks and crannies for creatives to do lunch.
Expat Koreans have long been beating a path to Fő utca, curry-seeking Brits and Indians to Bécsi út, while ever more Hungarians who have tasted the delights of the Far East seek to sample its subtle flavours around Buda.
Given the more remote nature of some destinations, it’s always worth reserving as there will be few other options close by if your first choice is full. All restaurants suggested here are easily reached by public transport, if you’re leaving the car at home and fancy sipping a sake or two.
1. 101 Bistro
Helping to transform the character of Buda’s busiest crossing point, Széll Kálmán tér, the 101Bistro has won over the Buda crowd thanks to its stand-out dishes designed for sharing. Avoiding well-trodden culinary paths, this self-styled ‘Taiwanese bistro for the curious’ seeks to pique the interest of regular and first-time diner alike.
A concise but enticing evening menu divides its primary focus between bao and small plates, meats are succulently moreish and inventive additions pop up on the bistro’s Facebook page.
Dishes arrive together thanks to a personable English-speaking waitstaff, the setting is intimate, with no interfering background music, and the lunch menu (Mon-Fri noon-3.30pm) merits investigation.
101 Bistro, 1024 Budapest, Széll Kálmán tér 5 (+36 70 610 8101). Metro M2/tram 4/6 to Széll Kálmán tér. Open Mon-Sat noon-3.30pm, 5pm-10pm, Sun noon-8pm.
Named after a Korean folk song, Áriráng shooed away the Golden Squirrel restaurant, the Arany Mókus that once filled this traditional Buda retreat and courtyard overlooking a quiet crossroads. German beer ads still decorate the rustic interior – this apart, welcome to Korea.
Beef and pork dominate, braised ribs in garlic and bean sauce, boiled with bossam kimchi wrapped in cabbage leaves. Initiates should delight in the kimchi jjigae, a red stew of thin pork slices and marinated vegetables served with sticky rice. Ask the waiter to tone down the spices if you’re wary. Go easy on the Korean soju, too, sweeter than vodka but stronger than sake.
Áriráng, 1126 Budapest, Istenhegyi út 25 (+36 30 634 1525). Bus 21 to Szent Orbán tér. Open Tue-Sun noon-10pm.
3. Asli Indonesian Restaurant
Don’t be put off by Asli, even after scouring the courtyard Kolosy Üzletház centre to find its sign in a far corner. The clue is in the name, ‘Authentic’, and its location is a plus, a cosy cellar ideal for a romantic meal.
Soups here act as mains, gulai kambing with goats’ meat in creamy curry sauce, or sup buntut, oxtail with aromatic spices. For an actual main, the spicy stewed beef with coconut sauce, rendang, hits the spot, served with steamed white rice. Less hefty but equally satisfying, Padang beef satay showcases the spices of western Sumatra. You’ll be back – and know where to find it next time.
Asli Indonesian Restaurant, 1036 Budapest, Kolosy tér 5 (+36 1 952 1361). Tram 17/19/41 to Kolosy tér. Open Tue-Thur & Sun noon-9pm, Fri-Sat noon-10pm.
4. Darbar Friends
Authentic Pakistani eatery Darbar Friends is not a restaurant designed for impressing an important client or a classy date. In fact, it’s barely a restaurant at all, just a couple of places inside and tables on the pavement.
But the food really is excellent, and a firm favourite for takeaway through Wolt or Food Panda, be it the succulent beef karahi or the warming black lentil daal, each soaked up with irresistible naan bread and complemented by a smooth mango lassi. The meat is, of course, halal and vegetarians will have plenty of options.
Prices are silly low and encourage you to over-order, ideal for sloppy seconds the next day if you’re dining at home.
Darbar Friends, 1114 Budapest, Bocskai út 24 (+36 20 431 4437). Tram 17/19/47/49 to Kosztolányi Dezső tér. Open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm.
5. Fuji Restaurant
While some would argue, not unjustifiably, that little Okuyama on Kolosy tér serves the best sushi in Óbuda, expansive Fuji a short bus ride away offers an entire Japanese dining experience, and has done for more than three decades.
Reassuringly expensive, it’s the kind of place that serves wagyu beef and una ju grilled eels with unagi sauce to discerning diners happy to pay top whack for top quality. Tempura may involve black tiger shrimp or soft shell crab, nigiri sea bass or yellowtail kingfish.
Fuji Restaurant, 1025 Budapest, Csatárka utca 54 (+36 1 325 7111). Bus 29/111 to Zöldkert út. Open daily noon-10pm.
6. Hanoi Restaurant
Going Vietnamese is not that easy an option in Buda, compared to the glut of places on the Pest side, but the dependable Hanoi on a quiet stretch of Fő utca should satisfy most.
With such an extensive menu, there’s no need to get bogged down in a bowl of pho but rather opt for the house speciality of crispy duck or lemongrass chicken – or, better yet, as all the soups come in two sizes, sample a smaller tom yum and a pad thai with chicken breast.
It’s a large place and only busy at lunchtimes for the two-option daily specials (Mon-Fri 11am-3pm), so early-evening intimacy should be assured.
Hanoi Restaurant, 1027 Budapest, Fő utca 71 (+36 1 793 3999). Metro M2 to Batthyány tér/tram 19/41 to Bem József tér. Open daily 11am-9pm.
The success of the two-storey Indigo on Jókai utca in Pest spurred the opening of its Buda stablemate ten years later, by which time nearby Millenáris Park was a popular destination for recreation. The formula is the same.
A long menu features everybody’s north-Indian favourites – chicken jalfrezi, lamb dopiaza, various biryanis – prepared in a traditional tandoori oven, quickly served at affordable prices. Vegetarians will have a field day with the range of aubergine, lentil and spinach dishes, while the homemade bread selection is equally extensive, Punjabi parathas complementing the more commonly found naans.
The selection of desserts is more limited, sweet gulab jamun the stand-out, and mango the only lassi on this dry ship.
Indigo, 1024 Budapest, Fény utca 16 (+36 1 397 7077). Metro M2 to Széll Kálmán tér/tram 4/6 to Széna tér. Open daily noon-10.30pm.
It’s been here forever, this little outpost of Indian cuisine, opened when few ventured to Óbuda except to view the Roman amphitheatre close by. Here Kulvinder Singh Jham, who had met his soon-to-be Hungarian wife when both were students in Vienna, decided to showcase the culinary range for which the Jham family had long been known back home.
Three decades later, his tandoori chicken, lamb handi or alu chana masala, accompanied by Peshwari or Kashmiri naan, still have that authentic touch, one that Kulvinder has also taken to a riverside spot in Szentendre.
This Óbuda mothership hasn’t expanded since, however, so booking is essential and home delivery (telephone number below) remains popular.
Maharaja, 1034 Budapest, Bécsi út 89-91 (+36 1 250 7544). Tram 17/19/41 to Katyini mártírok parkja. Open daily 11am-10pm.
9. Seoul House
For many years the only Korean restaurant in town, Seoul House has long welcomed regulars who still delight in the waiter grilling their beef slices beside their table, and know how to measure the zingy gochujang sauce according to individual thresholds.
The traditional beef soup yukgaejang is usually spicy enough, however, while the bibimbap, a mixed-rice mainstay and go-to choice for the less familiar, is served as many locals prefer, with a fried egg on top.
Koreans form much of the customer base, always a good sign, while staff could try a little harder to win over new guests – the many hotels here, just below Buda Castle, mean plenty of one-time-only visits.
Seoul House, 1011 Budapest, Fő utca 8 (+36 1 201 9607). Bus 16/105, tram 19/41 to Clark Ádám tér. Open daily noon-10pm.
10. Wang Mester Mozium
…or Wang Mester goes upmarket. Budapest’s most celebrated Chinese chef, who rose from little eateries around District IX to present his own TV shows, still doesn’t stray so far from his familial home of Sichuan when it comes to cuisine.
His Famous Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup tops the menus across his citywide empire, including this designer-forward dining destination in des-res Pasarét.
Moving with the times, Wang includes four pages of vegan options – truffle-mushroom soup, king trumpet and oyster mushrooms in black-pepper sauce – within a lengthy menu unafraid to suggest braised pork trotters or Shanghai braised marble pork belly to the finer diners of District II. Quality, Wang’s watchword, shouldn’t waver if you just plump for crispy duck.
Wang Mester Mozium, 1026 Budapest, Pasaréti út 122A (+36 70 907 0654). Bus 5/29 to Pasaréti tér. Open Tue-Sun 11.30am-11pm.
+1 Wu Zhou
Steps from Fény utca market and the Mammut mall, Wu Zhou is an ideal pitstop if you just fancy a Chinese after a hectic morning’s shopping or before a film at the multiplex.
A modest façade and narrow steps to a basement space barely raise expectations but wait the short time before your food arrives, and you may well become yet another convert.
Duck, orange-flavoured, crispy or Sichuan, is the way to go here, perhaps prefaced by an unusual appetiser, jellyfish-skin salad, say, or shumai dumplings. Fish options are equally plentiful, perhaps a fillet with ginger and green onion, or in a spicy stew. Aubergines and wood-ear mushrooms feature among the vegetarian range.
Wu Zhou, 1024 Budapest, Retek utca 12 (+36 30 893 8426). Metro M2/tram 4/6 to Széll Kálmán tér. Open Tue-Fri 11.30am-9.30pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-9pm.
By Peterjon Cresswell for XpatLoop.com
Peterjon Cresswell has been researching the bars and byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website, liberoguide.com, focusing on football culture and the drinking around it.
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