The best Chinese restaurant

The best Chinese restaurant in town is in Kőbányai street, in front of that gate of the Four Tigers Chinese Market which is the nearest to Orczy tér, one door to the left of the café to the left of the casino, in that enormous block of building of the former Ganz Machine Factory stretching from Fiumei street to Hungária boulevard whose innumerable internal passages, labyrinths and wormholes (how much I wished to saunter through these as a child!) are now inhabited by an infinity of tiny Chinese, Vietnamese, Turkish, Syrian, Georgian and who knows which other stores, warehouses and offices in the spirit of the best bazaar traditions. For a better orientation as well as for a better mood, it would be good to include here a photo of the gate of the market, but I have unfortunately forgot to take a picture of it. Within a few days I’ll be back there, and then I’ll make up for it. Until then I leave room here for a picture.

Opening hours of the Chinese fast food in Kőbányai street, Budapest
I’m often questioned about where are some really good Chinese restaurants in the city. It is difficult to tell, because the majority of Chinese restaurants within a short time mold themselves to the predominant tastes of the given country, and then it’s all up. In Italy they pour tomato juice over everything, in Germany some strange brownish Generalsoß, in Hungary cabbage pickled in starch. My friend, the master cook and gourmand Zhen, who carefully scans the Chinese restaurants of the city, jealously takes note of those few places where they still do it properly, where they do not forget to sprinkle the golden top of the sheep soup with fresh coriander leaves, where the cook roasts the hand-cleaned membrane of chicken gizzard on real Sichuan ginger, and where they go out to the early dawn Chinese flight for that special crab which is so necessary in the Mongolian hot pot and whose name I always forget. According to our common experiences good restaurants are the little Lanzhou in Luther street and the big Lanzhou in Fő street, the Mimóza on Hungária boulevard, the Taiwan in Nádor street (but this has closed now) and the Hongkong in Béke street. At least in case one goes there in the company of Chinese people, although they say they are the same good if the Hungarian guest explicitly orders ‘what the Chinese eat’, even if it will cost somewhat more because of the original materials. But the best restaurant is in Kőbányai street, in front of the gate of the Four Tigers Chinese Market.

Entrance of the Chinese fast food in Kőbányai street, Budapest
The family running the restaurant and the chef who is usually also the head of the family change from time to time, thus the recurrent guests can get acquainted with a number of Chinese regional kitchens. Now for a year and a half it has been in the hands of a family from the Fujian region. When they took over the shop, they only spoke their own dialect, but the boy at the counter has by now learned a fair Chinese from the guests. He even knows the name of some basic materials in Hungarian. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, before venturing to order you’d better study the following version of the Chinese-Vietnamese menu where you can also read the names of the dishes in English and see their pictures catched together from various Chinese cooking sites (which are not necessarily identical with their local equivalents) by moving the mouse above the Chinese names. The script displaying the inscriptions, just like every other script used on our site, do not work in Google Reader, so the users of Reader are invited to come over directly to the blog.

Menu of the Chinese fast food in Kőbányai street, Budapest
You should better go around noon or not much later, when the kitchen already works, but there are only a few guests yet. At this time there are even free seats, namely two to the left of the door. Latecomers eat standing. Soon the market sellers arrive. They are the target public of the restaurant who are looking for really good Chinese kitchen instead of a Magyarized one. This is why the dishes are so tasty here and this is why they have the same genuinely Chinese taste like in any small restaurant in Beijing or Shenzhen. This makes it the best Chinese restaurant in town.

If you managed to take the seat at the door, then while you are waiting for your dish you should observe how the serious clients order. They care nothing of the menu, but only shout the ingredients they wish, like “soup with noodles, beef, two eggs, vegetables”. Kata immediately pounced on this possibility, and by now she also composes the dishes for herself, at the great delight of the staff. And for an individual taste everyone orders some addition from under the counter.

The right meat counter of the Chinese fast food in Kőbányai street
The left meat counter of the Chinese fast food in Kőbányai street
In the right (above) and left (below) sections of the meat counter there is a plethora of raw or prepared meats, mostly those sinewy or cartilaginous parts and giblets that the Chinese estimate the most: feet, neck and head of poultry, tongue of pork, bowels, ears and so on: the mouse here too helps to identify the current offer. The guests pick out one or two of these to cook in the soup or roast with the noodles or rice for a really authentic homely taste. Because – attention! – in this restaurant there are no ready-to-eat foods. Everything is prepared right on the spot, like in the best Hongkong spectacle kitchens.

You should dedicate special attention to the freshly steamed baozi, Chinese dumpling with meat on the top of the right counter, of which you should indispensably have two or three warmed up with the soup. You can also take home of it (just like from the meats, people take them like hot cakes), we usually have ourselves packed sixty or eighty at one time. For drinking the well-informed ask soya milk which is of course not indicated anywhere. It is very tasty, a bit like that of the oeufs à la neige. And it is extremely healthy.

Apart from the really tasty food, you should also come here because in this neighborhood you can encounter a small piece of real China. Above the restaurant there is a Chinese food shop with a relatively good supply. Here you should by all means buy a little glass of Hongkong 海鲜酱 hăixiānjiàng that is hoisin sauce to eat with the baozi. And in front of the entrance of the restaurant, in the car park some Chinese farmers from Hungary – they say from the region of Baja – sell fresh Chinese vegetable every day from around noon from the plateau of a lorry. Most of them have no Hungarian names, but if you want to play safe, take a packet of large-leaved youcai now only for an euro. It is good to roast in the wok with chopped meat or tofu, and good to cook in the soup. We will give recipes on request.