One of the capital’s most recent food ventures, FunkyPho puts a different spin on that all-important criterion of good restaurant marketing: authenticity. There’s no Vietnamese face behind the counter, and the decorative trappings of a South-East Asian restaurant are nowhere to be seen. Instead, FunkyPho is owned by a couple of Hungarians well versed in the cuisine of Vietnam and surrounding countries, and the outside walls of this tiny outlet on District VI’s equally tiny Mozsár utca are liberally covered in graffiti.
Apart from a many-handed, almost goddess-like figure on one wall and from origami birds hanging from the ceiling, there isn’t much to evoke local colour. Except, that is, for the counter, whose contents are pared down to the essentials and is, in this, remarkably redolent of some street food peddlar’s.
This, in a sense, is what FunkyPho is all about, with its menu reduced to staples of (almost) ready-to-go food, Asian-style. Weekly menus had yet to be launched at the time of the visit, but these are planned to feature cuisines from a variety of Asian countries from Korea to Japan.
The brunt of the menu, however, revolves around pho, Vietnam’s national soup. From the 100-litre pot bubbling away at the back of the kitchen, the smell of the stock emanates in wafts of ginger root, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, fish sauce and other condiments necessary to transform the basic onion, beef bone and marrow, and water into the deliciously fragrant and complex flavours of pho.
Strained of the meat, vegetables and spices, the liquid is transferred into one of two pots kept warm on the counter, the other used to prepare the rice noodles.
It’s at the stage of adding the next major ingredient – meat – that things get a bit more elaborate, because there’s the choice between adding the long-boiled meat from the stock, slices of sirloin carpaccio-style, and FunkyPho’s own version, namely pieces of beef flattened into shape and ingrained with onions (the latter two raw but cooked on the spot by pouring the hot liquid over them).
Herbs (coriander leaves, thai basil, mint), bean sprouts, spring onions and an optional squeeze of lemon, and here’s a tasty, filling, fresh and exotic meal in a bowl (or for takeaway).
After this, the rest of the menu is simple: herbs, vegetables, rice noodles and a choice of chicken breast, pork meatballs or tofu, rolled in rice pancakes and served on a tray with peanut sauce and Vietnamese table sauce (fish sauce, sugar, lemon, water and garlic), making for customisable summer rolls (the non-fried version of their spring roll relatives).
Herbs, vegetables, rice noodles, crushed peanuts, fried onion and a choice of chicken, beef or tofu make for rice noodle salad; the beef version, where the meat is marinated in lemon, soy sauce and fish sauce, is particularly fragrant and the various flavours of the preparation well balanced.
The drinks list is equally short: apple or peach juice, lemonade and/or Vietnamese coffee. This, brewed directly over a glass lined with condensed milk, brings the meal to a sweet, caramel-tinged end.
Of course delicious food always goes down better when the place is friendly, as is undoubtedly the case here.
Pho (eat in/takeaway): HUF 1,390/1,490
Summer rolls (per piece): HUF 300
Rice noodle salad: HUF 1,390
Drinks: from HUF 120/dl
Vietnamese coffee: HUF 490
District VI, Mozsár u. 7
Open Tue.-Sat. 11.30am-9pm