Malesice – Prague’s Little Hanoi

Wondering where the real Vietnamese food is in Prague? Are fresh herbs and Asian goods your thing?

Pho (Vietnamese Soup) - Prague, Czech Republic
Malesice Vietnamese market in Prague

Where did you get those bags of frozen tiger shrimp? Where do you get your fresh Thai basil and long beans? Where did you get all those fresh herbs for your Vietnamese summer rolls?

If we had a nickel (a Czech koruna, perhaps?) for every time we’d been asked these questions, we’d have enough money to buy a vote in the Czech parliament.

We covet the secret no longer. Here’s the scoop…

We’ve been to two Vietnamese market mazes in Prague. One called “Sapa” (named after the hill tribe town in northern Vietnam) in Prague 4, and another unnamed network of Vietnamese shops in the Malesice district in Prague 10. Although the pho and produce are decent in Sapa, we’ve become more familiar with the Malesice outpost.

Malesice Vietnamese Market: How to get there:

By car: Take Vinohradska away from the center of town past Strasnice (Vinohradska becomes Cernokostelecka). When you reach Depo Hostivar metro station (where the Esso gas station is), take a left on Sazecska. Head about 600 meters, past the printing press and take a right onto Tiskarska. The turn in for the market is another 500 meters or so. Enjoy navigating the tight parking areas within the market maze.

Vietnamese Market - Prague, Czech Republic
Arriving at the Malesice Vietnamese Market

By public transport: From Zelivskeho or Depo Hostivar, take the 208 bus away from the city in the direction of Dolni Pocernice to stop Tiskarska. From Tiskarska stop, walk up the road about 50 meters to the driveway entrance (marked “Velkoobchod”, or something similar). To return to town, cross over the grassy divider to the street going the opposite direction and pick up the bus.

Getting in: On our first visit with a Thai friend, we were told that access was granted to “Asians, those with dark skin, or zivnostensky list holders for retail businesses.” We’ve walked and driven in dozens of times in the last 2-3 years without a problem, having only to present a zivnostensky list once. Just smile at the guards and walk/drive past.

Once you get in: On the main entrance road are two shops on the left that sell various Asian goods and tea sets; one has a shellfish freezer with shrimp, mollusks, etc.

On the corner where the entrance road turns right are two food shops full of herbs and other Asian foods. We had become regulars for fresh herbs and tiger prawns at the shop on the corner closest to the turn (across from the building pictured with flags). If you show curiosity, you will be rewarded with advice on how to cook Vietnamese food and use the products properly.

After the entrance road turns right, you’ll notice a small parking lot. That parking lot traverses a series of alleys marked A, B, C, D, etc. Walk up alley “A” for arguably the best pho in Prague. Half way up alley A on the left-hand side is a scruffy little soup bar whose windows are lined with fresh greens. Try this one, or continue further up alley A to the end on the left. Caddy corner to the public toilets is the other choice pho kitchen.

Yes, we know, there aren’t many competitors serving pho in Prague. Having been to northern Vietnam, we can vouch that the two places we mention here serve the real deal, boiled from beef bones in giant metal cauldrons. There are other places (in the center of Prague and also out at Malesice) that serve faux pho made from pho bouillon cubes.

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Comments

  1. Cathy says

    Dear Audrey and Dan and anyone looking for pho in Prague,

    This week on a coolish evening we decided to venture to Malesice for pho.

    The fabulous pho place is gone!

    The owners were there, in the empty shell of their shop, and we asked “what’s up?” — too tired, too much work, not reopening.

    We ate in another place which was good but heavy on cinska sul (MSG) and no fresh basil, sprouts or saw tooth greens.

    I hope you’re well in spite of this sad news. I’m in recovery.

    Ciao for now,
    Cathy

  2. says

    Cathy,
    Say it isn’t so!! Where will we go for pho next time we’re in Prague?! Maybe the Sapa Vietnamese market in Prague 4…

    We are very much in meat land right now in Uzbekistan. We started dreaming of a big bowl of pho with fresh herbs when we read your comment….

    Let us know if you find a new pho place!
    Audrey

  3. Cathy says

    A and D,
    Yes, it’s true. But we are inspired to try the other pho places at Malesice — and someone told us to look also for an authentic and good CHINESE place, which is entered through the kitchen, take a plate, point at what you want and pay 70 crowns (about $3.50).
    Good luck in the search for vegetables.
    Cathy

  4. Jana Chu Svitek says

    Audrey and Dan,
    Treasure of a find to come aross your website…My husband, Ondrej, and I just came back from travels to his home country last night, and having not been back for 3 years, we certainly noticed the huge increase in # of Vietnamese manning ovoce-zelenina stores and vecerky…As I am Asian-American (Cinanka) and as our fave cuisine in the world is Vietnamese, we were wondering where on Earth in Praha we would be able to find Pho and try our hand at their food (I’m from CA..no more needs to be said in the way of Vietnamese encounters there).

    Thanks for educating us about this area of Praha, as well as the Sapa area too! You both are brilliant for being able to forge your way and live for years in Prague. We love staying there very much, and try our darndest to stay away from tourists and touristy activities (I think hiking over Vitkov to Karlin from Zizkov, all of Petriny area, and getting lost in Stresovice and Bohnice on purpose definitely count!).

    Best wishes for your joint venture in starting uncorneredmarket!
    Well wishes from Portland, OR
    Sviteks

  5. says

    Ahoj Svitkovy, thanks so much for your comment. Meeting people with intersecting and common experiences is one facet of our travels (and blogging about them) that we really find enjoyable.

    We’re glad that you found the information on the Vietnamese markets in Sapa and Malesice useful. We always enjoyed going there. And if you haven’t gathered from our site already, we’re sort of “under the skin” travelers who don’t just get off the beaten path. Our goal is find the redeemable but surprising places where virtually no one seems to go.

    No where is this more relevant than Prague. We still contend that the most beautiful and authentic places happen to be the residential districts outside of the city center – places where you’ll hear more Czech being spoken than English. The suggestions/neighborhoods you list are all right on.

    Thanks for the well wishes…please share our site with others who might find it interesting. Cau!

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