There’s something instantly thrilling about stepping into Badhanna, a new Asian bar & restaurant that just opened its doors to the public in Budapest. Occupying the ground floor of a Neo-Renaissance townhouse built in 1886, the venue transports patrons through time and space, from the historic centre of the Hungarian capital all the way to the neon-lit alleys of mid-twentieth-century Hong Kong. Prompted by Chef Adam Cser’s “progressive Asian streefood” which revels in Thai, Japanese, Indonesian, South-Korean and Chinese cuisine, Eszter Csontos, designer and art director at Budapest-based creative studio Socially designed the venue as a peripatetic journey across the Far East.
Drawing inspiration from Hong Kong, a cultural melting pot with a vibrant street culture, Csontos swathed the building’s cavernous spaces with a hodgepodge of graphic posters, neon installations and graffiti illustrations by artist Attila Stark that channel, along with the bespoke retro-industrial furniture and light fittings, the Asian metropolis’ urban vibes. With a natural light and tropical plant-filled dining courtyard offering a respite from the moody, speakeasy-like bar area, Badhanna’s eclectic décor and immersive ambience offer patrons a taste of the Far East that is as evocative as its culinary offerings and exotic cocktails.
Featuring a retractable glass roof, the dining room at the back of the venue is a much brighter and airier space than the dimly lit bar area but it nevertheless shares the latter’s urban vibes thanks to Csontos’ bold visual language which includes a semi-circular red and blue bar counter, sumptuous leather banquettes, lots of exotic plants, and a portrait of an 18th century female traveller reproduced as a large mural once again graffitied over by Stark.
What makes Badhanna’s design stand out is the incongruous yet very compelling combination of the 19th century building’s architectural heritage with retro-industrial references, vintage Asian posters, cartoon graffiti and neon signage. Purposefully left exposed, the property’s original masonry walls and brick vaults and later added concrete elements make for the perfect backdrop for Csontos’ patchwork of graphic posters, haphazardly plastered one on top of the other just as you’d expect in the back alleys of Hong Kong. Add in Stark’s graffiti illustrations which he has cheekily scribbled all over the posters and walls, a series of industrial-inspired lamps custom-designed by Csontas, and neon signage in yellow, red and blue, and the result is a series of rooms that artfully convey the city’s anarchic urban beauty.