Dining

East Meets Pest: Oriental Soup House is authentically Asian

Photo : László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
Gundel Étterem

Asian restaurants seem to be everywhere across downtown Budapest nowadays, but it can be difficult to find one that is affordable or that doesn’t sacrifice quality for the sake of friendly prices. However, for those willing to walk just a bit beyond the beaten path, the newly opened Oriental Soup House in District XIII strikes a beautiful balance between good value and great food. Here we can slurp bowlfuls of fine pho made fresh to order with any combination of ingredients that we wish to devour – and all for a price that is definitely worth paying.

Oriental Soup House
  • 1136 Budapest, Balzac utca 35.
Situated a safe distance from downtown competition and the trends dictated by Budapest’s party district, Oriental Soup House can make their specialties exactly how they feel is best, using excellent ingredients and authentic cooking techniques. And the result? Although the place is relatively far from the nearest metro stop at Lehel Square, requiring guests to walk a few blocks from there or Nyugati Square, the communal wooden tables of this colorful eatery are almost constantly full.
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
Oriental Soup House is the brainchild of a Vietnamese-French pair of brothers, who opened the spot to create a restaurant where they could create the flavors they have savored since childhood. While the brothers began preparing for the opening of Oriental Soup House in December, they could only open for business in late July.
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
It seems the wait was well worthwhile: both the design and the foods are something different. The sleek and fresh interior is slightly industrial and slightly Asian, but most importantly, it manages to pull off the feat of putting everyone at ease.
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
What really counts, of course, is the food. The menu is not too long, but the concept here allows for guests to mix and match ingredients according to everyone’s individual taste. In addition to pho and other Vietnamese main courses, we can also create a customized soup from any of the ingredients available. The list includes base soups (440 HUF), various meats in small and large portions (250-720 HUF), noodles (270-450 HUF), jasmine rice (270-450 HUF), vegetables (200 HUF), and sauces (150 HUF).
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
The owners say that some kid asked to have all of the 30 ingredients included in one bowl of soup, and actually thoroughly enjoyed the result. Of course, most people opt for the traditional recipes, so the best-selling dish is pho (1,190-1,640 HUF).
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
It is important that Oriental Soup House conscientiously prepares these dishes in harmony with home-style recipes, in the most authentic way possible; for example, the beef loins are scalded instead of being thoroughly cooked, to achieve a chewy result. This also means that the meat remains somewhat pink in places – so keep this in mind if you don’t like eating rare meat, because the cooks will stick with their style.
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest
The only negative thing the owners have experienced is that many believe the place to be a fast-food joint, and are impatient when they have to wait 20 minutes for freshly made soup. This, however, is a minor inconvenience in the long run: with their uncompromising dedication to high-quality food, the brothers will continue to excel.