It’s often hard to decide which are more delicious, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian, South-Korean or Chinese dishes? All of them are great, and luckily we now don’t have to choose, as Badhanna’s recently opened fusion Asian restaurant perfectly captures that kind of complexity. At this new bar/restaurant, you can relive the colourful, magical memories of your Asian stay, enjoy beach relaxation with a good helping of chilled refreshments backdropped by the cultural cavalcade of a big city. This is where you might chance upon some of the best street food in your life, the special dishes that only locals can show you.

A love of Asia, memories of previous trips and nostalgia for a relaxing holiday all influence the team running the place. The development of the concept, the image and the interior is the work of Budapest-based hospitality creatives Socially and Márton Vajda.

Badhanna can be seen as symbolising an intrepid young traveller looking for adventure and leaving restraint behind, for the duration of the holiday at least. At this bar/restaurant, you get an glimpse into an Asian holiday where the flashing bustle and variety of big cities, the kindness of Asian people, the love of food and the memory of a chanced-upon place selling super street food all play a part.

The design of the place perfectly reflects this atmosphere. The details and furnishings evoking Asia lend authenticity, but they do not crowd the whole space, they are couched in an elegant, relaxed atmosphere. The many plants and trees, the roof that can be opened at the back, allow you the pleasure of sitting back and relaxing over a drink.

At the centre, of course, is the bar counter, and they’ve managed to divide the space so that small and large groups can feel like they’re in their own private surroundings. You can sit down to have a drink as well as enjoy a fine spread with friends – and have just as good a time either way, neither party bothering the other.

For our visit, we couldn’t wait to get to the food and drinks. When compiling the menu, Dániel Varga, a chef who tried his luck in Thailand and then proved himself at AUM, has become the right-hand man at Badhanna, the kitchen led by Tamás Pilter. And the passion can be seen in the food, with as much as possible made in-house, from the kimchi to the bao.

At the moment, you can taste 14 types of dishes, the varied textures, flavours and the presence of umami seasoning evoking the world of progressive Asian street food. As concerns portions, the aim is to have the most variety of dishes on your table at the same time for you to indulge in Far-Eastern flavours.

Most of the dishes are made fresh, à la minute, and the good news for food-sensitive people is that there are plenty of lactose-, gluten- and meat-free versions. Chefs have no limits when it comes to experimenting, bringing new colours to even the best-known ingredients, such as nori. The braver ones can try the duck gizzards, but less adventurous diners can certainly find flavours to their liking.

We tried quite a variety of food, it was a great sensation to dip into natural and special flavours without feeling full up afterwards. We were somewhat blasé about the bulgogi (HUF 3,490) when we were there, but it does deserve top billing, as it would be a shame to miss the dish of ponzu-marinated rib-eye steak and wonderful coconut mayonnaise in a homemade bao.

There's a little northern twist to the salmon sashimi (HUF 3,890), as the fish is prepared like gravlax, a special pickling technique that Scandinavian countries consider their own. Here, of course, it is accompanied by a Japanese ponzu sauce of citrus, soy sauce and melon, this pairing our current secret favourite. This second dish may have stolen our hearts, but we kept on going!

This is how we got to the pad pak (HUF 2,550), in which orange miso dressing is added to the wok-fried seasonal vegetables. Fans of specialities should definitely try the pad phet (HUF 3,750) with duck gizzards, served at a temperature that best suits the flavours, with slow-cooked soft duck breast and a little mint.

By the way, the place consciously strives to incorporate more special ingredients, so hardcore Asian fans will also find their favourite. The seafood was represented by hoi, black mussels with yellow curry sauce and udon noodles (HUF 3,490), in which the soft creaminess of the dough and sauce go very well with the salty mussels.

We left our two favourites till last. Luckily, the cauliflower pop (HUF 1,750) is a snack, and we immediately tossed away the chopsticks and used our fingers for the deep-fried mini-cauli roses, which were special thanks to the creamy interior and the crunchy exterior.

Then we tucked into dendeng balado (HUF 3,550) which they prepare over several days and the wonderfully soft ribs almost melt in your mouth. Moreover, it was served with crispy pickled peppers.

The drinks are just as tasty as the food. Their non-alcoholic lemonades are among the best in town, they are groundbreaking and don’t taste like the classic sugar-and-sour lemon standard, but natural and very refreshing. The basil tonic (HUF 1,290) adds a little extra coolness to summer afternoons, while the mango-chili lemonade (HUF 1,290) will spice up the rest of your day.

Among the teas, the flowering variety that opens in water is far the most beautiful and special. Just slow down as the Japanese do and watch as it spreads out before you taste it.

We also loved the cocktails, having tried them in a completely unorthodox way, together with half-melted ice cubes, they were still so refreshing. The vodka, sour cherry and vanilla flavours of the Wandering Geisha (HUF 3,490) comes with fantastic aromas. The chili-tequila taste of the Spicy Generation (HUF 3,490) feels like as if it were a drop of South America in a huge Asian city. The Sunset Addict (HUF 3,690) with rum, gin, wild peach, smoked pineapple and blood orange can be the perfect companion to any dish.

We didn’t expect to be taking a trip to the Far East when we stepped in from downtown Hercegprímás utca one rainy Wednesday afternoon, and yet that is what Badhanna felt like. The place is recommended for lovers of Asia and for non-travellers alike. After such a gastronomic adventure, everyone will be convinced to take a more exotic holiday.

Venue information

1051 Budapest, Hercegprímás utca 18
Open: Daily 5pm-midnight