People regard going to markets to be a fun, recreational activity, or a complete nuisance. Personally, we belong to the group that spends hours looking at various goods. While shopping in the Great Market Hall can be a real experience, all the other smaller, outer-district markets have their own unique atmospheres, as well. Just like Lehel Hall: the boat-like, surreal building on Váci út, erected in 2002, attracts young and old alike with its farmers’ merchandise on the ground floor. In addition, there’s a cool pho place on the first floor, which sells the cheapest Vietnamese soup in the city.
Budapest has a plethora of pho places in store, coming in various styles and price ranges, from franchises to more sophisticated venues with a romantic vibe. However, random buffets found at Asian markets can be surprisingly authentic, as well – there’s no place for grimaces and snobbish attitudes, these places must be regarded in their own environment, and the flavors remain the same in worn-down metal bowls. Fortunately, city dwellers who are more responsive to gastronomy are rather open and interested in these alternative experiences, too.
While Lehel Hall isn’t an Asian market, it houses many vendors that don’t bring their vegetables and fruits from the Great Hungarian Plain. The first floor isn’t about fresh delicacies, but about household goods, pawn shops, and lottery stands – necessities at any Hungarian market. At lunchtime, some people are waiting for available tables next to a clothing store, under the yellow-blue Leves Pont logo. This is where they sell the cheapest Vietnamese pho we’ve ever encountered, much to the delight of local vendors, as well as nearby workers and students.
The place is understandably popular for offering very cheap and delicious soups. Where else could we eat a “small” bowl of pho, rich in beef and green herbs, for only 700 forints? (Nowhere.) The large bowl costs a mere 1,000 forints and makes a hearty lunch, although the version with shrimp costs 1,000 and 1,300 forints. Condiments like Sriracha sauce, fish sauce, lemon juice, and vinegar-chili garlic are all available on the tables, so those who like to spice up their pho game are more than welcome to make use of them. The service is nice, and the environment favors those who like an unpretentious kind of lifestyle and atmosphere.
Leves Pont Vietnami Levesező
Lehel Hall, first floor, near the middle
Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm; Saturday, 8am-2pm