East meets Eastern Europe
A small group of us, Asian chow hounds, will be visiting Prague, Vienna and Budapest this October. We are wondering whether there are good/fine dining Asian ( Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese,Singaporean, Indonesian) restaurants that have made a name in those places and worth visiting.
It will be quite intereting what inroads have been made re: Asian cuisine in Eastern Europe.
Any comments will be much appreciated, and we will post our evaluation .
First an important correction:
YOU ARE NOT ENTERING EASTERN EUROPE !!
Prague is west of Vienna, which is just 300 km west of Budapest.
And these three cities consider themselves to be part of CENTRAL EUROPE !!
Eastern Europe is:
Russia, the baltic republics, Bielorussia, Ukraine, maybe Romania and Bulgaria and Poland. But please keep in mind that the geographic center of Europe is actually right in Lithuania !!
Asian restaurants are plenty in Vienna. You might find three kinds of these:
1. Places catering to Asian tourists of Chinese or Japanese origin. These places are mostly off limits to local people, and might be the ones you get offered anyway. There you will find exactly the food you got back home (if you are really that desperate). The chinese places I know are Happy Buddha, Lucky Buddha and others, the japanese Tenmaya and Unkai at the high end, and Hidori as a down-to-earth japanese grill. There are many more...
2. Good Asian places popular with locals and thereby maybe of interest for you are:
Goldene Zeiten: http://www.goldenezeiten.at/
Excellent food with maybe the most arrogant service found outside of China. The food is good, but you have to fight for it..
Zum kaiserlichen Thron: http://www.zumkaiserlichenthron.at/
A real gem. Two masters of Sichuan cuisine are offering athentic menues in a wonderful museum setup: the imperial furniture depot.
The best is a small subterrean place: Sri Thai
3. the third kind are "Asian fusion", and to be avoided. They range from cheap all-you-can--eat places to the very expensive Yohm and Indochine 21 located in the inner city. A waste of time and money.
Enjoy your stay and try Viennese cuisine also !!
Thanks for the correction re Central Europe.
More importantly, will defintely try Zum kaiserlichen Thron, Goldene Zeiten in that order, & post comments.
Our Hit List in Vienna:
4.Sperl. This will give us some idea of Viennese cuisine, from fine dining to beer hall to typical local fare.
What is your choice of Coffe houses, besides Demel?
Great Location, good classic cuisine.
Great Location, if sitting outdoors; but beware, cuisine may vary...
Traditional beer cellar, acceptable food.
Now this is a nice place, real traditional Kaffeehaus, you will like it, especially if you like to light up your cigarette !!
Ah yes: Vienna is smokers heaven, the non smokers get the unpopular tables...
5. Demel is a pastry shop, not a Kaffeehaus. You go to Demel because of the sweets.
Similar quality at slightly lower price are Heiner or Gerstner, both on Kärtnerstrasse, and Kurkonditorei Oberlaa on Neuer Markt. The best value for money is the Aida chain, which you can also find at several spots right in the inner city.
6. For REAL authentic austrian cuisine (like Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz as well as other kinds of beef) I recommend Plachutta on Wollzeile.
7. If you want more down to earth places there are several authentic beisl right in the city, such as
Zu den 3 Hacken,
Beim Czaak and
Apropos fine dining:
NONE of the places mentioned would fit this category. For fine dining there are very few places left after Palais Coburg, Mörwald at Hotel Ambasador and Das Turm closed and now also Christian Domschitz left Schwarzes Kameel.
The small rest of high-end fine-dining places are:
Meinl am Graben
and thats it.
On the other hand I would rather recommend a few small places which do not fit the category "fine dining", but rather represent "New Viennese Beisl Cuisine", inventive and light food at reasonable price levels, combining old Viennese classics with mediterrean and asian flavors:
The best of these - and right in the city center - is still Zum Finsteren Stern. Easy to miss, because they open only in the evening and have no sign beside a large white star in the window. I would rather go there than to any other places listed in my prior post...
Other interesting new Viennese restaurants are:
Zur Schwarzen Katze
For addresses, opening hours and phone numbers look here: http://www.falter.at/wwei
I can vouch for an extremely delicious meal I had at Zum Finsteren Stern 2 which included a kind of deconstructed yellow mushroom ravioli, lamb riblets, fish, and beef in a honey mustard sauce, although this was a long time ago. Traditional roots with an eye toward a modern palate.
...who knew there was even such a thing as "Central Europe." ;-)
The food at Zum Finsteren Stern is unchanged, fortunately. Unfortunately the weather has changed now, summer ended last Thursday, and it is no more possible to enjoy the wonderful food sitting outside in the baroque plaza.
Here are a few links concerning the concept of "Central Europe":
Yes, it is tricky to find. I am told the neighboring Doll and Toy Museum is now closed down. That used to be a 'landmark.'
In the summer, everyone wants to sit outside on the small secluded square. So reservations for those coveted tables are highly advisable.
IIRC, you can find ZF2 by facing north on the Am Hof Square and taking the lane that comes in on the right, behind the church. It's at #8, Schulhof.
What did you eat there?
For starters: whole artichoke with delightful dipping sauce and veal tartare with arugula.
Entre: Moist chicken drenched with sort of saffron pumpkin sauce and Fried local fish of the day on a bed of one of the best risotto, i ever had.
No time for dessert, as we had to rush for a performance.
In Budapest: the Taiwan (in a building it shares with a budget hotel and with the McDionalds Hungarian business offices, out of the way in the IXth District near Nagyvarad ter)
Wngmester Kyhaja, one of three restaurants owned by the same guy reputed to be the best cluster of newer Chinese places in Budapest:
that same website (http://chew.hu) also has reviewed a couple of Korean restaurants but i've not eaten in them;
i think the Taiwan is pretty interesting European Chinese food; there is a large Chinese population in Hungary as in most of the former-soviet-dominated countries, and the cooking is reflective of postwar chinese food
For Prague, I will give you a list of web sites. I have not eaten in many of these restaurants but I can personally recommend the Japanese restaurant Miyabi and my husband recommends Japanese - Korean restaurant Mashana (the former cook of the Japanese embassy cooks there). The restaurants which are fancy or so called fine dining, are marked with a star. Beware, in Prague you always pay extra for good quality so these * restaurants will not come cheap.
www.angelrestaurant.cz * very new
www.barockrestaurant.cz * one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in Prague, opened in early 90s
http://www.mandarinoriental.com/prague/dining/essensia/default.aspx * restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel has a new chef, a very good one. He is a specialist on lightening Czech dishes and on fusion cuisine so if you choose this, you should be in for a treat.
www.arzenal.cz opened by a famous glass artist
www.orangemoon.cz also quite old
www.noodle.cz interesting concept
www.china-fusion.cz first chinese restaurant in Prague, opened in the 80s
Wonderful recommendations with your Asian sites. In particular your choice of Miyabi & Mashana. And will try to make it to the Oriental, as some of us must have Asian food ( after a few days) wheras others are more into local cuisine. We have both in the Oriental!
sorry for the delay, I definitelly recommend V Zatisi, that is my all favorite restaurant in Prague and their Czech cuisine is very well interpreted - not too heavy, so that you can actually eat it and walk away on your own, but not too light, because then it would loose its character.
Had a wonderful dinner at Essensia/Mandarion Oriental. Although its menu lists typical asian cuisine like Mee Goreng & Phad Thai, it is simple fare in expensive setting. However it goes well with their regional Czech beer, and some are exclusive to them. So, if you are not a beer drinker, try somewhere else. But if you are, this is heaven.
For Asian chowhounds, their Czech cuisine is a better consideration.
Simple asian food in simple ambience, try Orange Moon. South East Asian influence ( Thai, Myanmar, Indonesia,India). Very flavourful esp their fried vermicelli & red curry dish.
Other dishes like beef rendang, phad thai are unispiring. Current chef from Myanmar.