A little of Vietnam in Budapest

Monday, 2015-12-07 09:40:19
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Hanoi Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant in Budapest
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It is “Phở", not “Phô" or “Phơ"? That was me correcting my new friends’ pronunciation in Hanoi Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant located just five minutes’ walk from Danube river in Budapest. But when they started to ask me if this renowned dish was what the restaurant’s name meant, they became really confused by the two possible meanings of “Pho” as Phở and Phố.

Phở Hà Nội or Phố Hà Nội? We finally agreed it did not matter. What mattered was it brought one of my most favourite Vietnamese dishes to this faraway place from Vietnam. And it has given a lot of people of different nationalities a chance to know and fall in love with Vietnamese cuisine.

This time a year ago, I was still in Vietnam, enjoying the tranquil life in a central province where I was working at that time. The place is full of specialities like Cơm Gà or Mỳ Quảng, the delicacy of which cannot be found anywhere else. In this small city, some one-dish-only-restaurants offer unique food such as Bánh Tráng Thịt Heo. This dish is served with an unusually delicious local variety of Mắm Cay. I have to confess that I was even thinking of packing some jars of this sauce in the suitcase with me to Europe but finally did not do so because of being afraid they could get leaked. I guess everyone knows what I mean. When a friend visited me for a couple of days, we got lost in these local specialities and ended up with enjoying Bê Thui. Until now we have kept photos of the restaurant where roasted veal on a skewer was placed right in front. Incomparable was waiting drip by drip for my Cà phê Đen in the morning and lunch breaks in one of the numerous pleasant garden cafes.

A bowl of Pho Gau Bo is worth 1,000ft or 80,000 vnd in the (old) Four Tigers market in Budapest

Anyway, the Vietnamese coffee culture seems to be made for me. Hanoi also has plenty of great cafes where it is worth to hang out for a break or meeting friends and, of course indispensably, for the morning coffee during a stop at a small place on the way to work. But the biggest advantage of the big city and best fun ever is having a food trip through the city on motorbikes with a group of friends. A big number of small restaurants serving only one dish gives you the chance to explore the city while composing your dinner course with a unique variety of street food like the delicious Hủ Tíu in a house's backyard or Nem Chua Rán in a squeezing alley in Phố Cổ. You may as well be ending up with a hot Cháo Gà before heading home on a colder winter night.

By now you know what I miss quite often here in a European city. Luckily, Budapest has gone far ahead of many places in its offer of Vietnamese cuisine, thanks to the presence of a large Vietnamese community here. There are Vietnamese restaurants scattering across both sides of Danube river, Buda and Pest. They offer a wide range of dishes, from Bún Chả, Bánh Xèo to Vịt Quay. While waiting for the day that I reunite with my favourite restaurants in Vietnam, I am happily at ease by having found a real good Phở Hà Nội in Budapest.

Marlon, a Filipino graduate student in Budapest, is excited about Pho


Ralf T.