If you're on the hunt for unique spots in Budapest, get ready to take some notes! YURU has just opened its secret doors, unveiling a chic izakaya-style bar, where you can indulge in sake-based cocktails paired with delicious Japanese dishes, each with a Nordic twist.

YURU blends Asian small plates with Budapest's lively nightlife, but don't expect wild parties here – think classy sips and international DJs instead – a dream if you are over 30. The beauty of the place is that while it's located on one of Budapest's most popular streets, only steps away from the Basilica, it's currently the city's best-kept secret. You won't stumble upon it; even armed with the address, you'll have to look hard to find it. And we're loving it for that.

Once you do locate the entrance, buzz up, and walk deep into a typical Budapest apartment building. Go up the staircase and along the open corridor, and there you are, in Budapest's new izakaya! Open from Thursday to Saturday (7 pm-midnight), YURU brings mystical vibes, sake-based cocktails, and off-the-beaten-track sharing plates.

What's an izakaya?

An izakaya is to Japanese people what a pub is to the Brits or a tapas bar is to Spaniards: an informal and welcoming hangout serving alcoholic drinks and snacks. You can chill, socialise and down a few sakes after work.

As we are at a bar, get a drink first! You can savour a sake surely enough, or you can opt for a cocktail – where surprise, surprise, sake is also involved. We went for a Sake Sour and if you are up for a fruity but not too sweet treat, do the same.

After grabbing your drink, it's time to scan the menu. We say, embrace the izakaya vibes and 'sharing is caring' concept, and order several small plates. Then push them right to the middle of the table, and dig in! Kicking off the experience, we nibbled on ginger slices fermented to perfection, coupled with Soy-dipped hamachi sashimi (hamachi, also known as Japanese amberjack, is served raw and without sushi rice), which sushi lovers will be obsessed about – the fish melts in the mouth like butter. 

Gyoza is also a must-try, especially the veggie one. The homemade dough completely blew us away: golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet creamy and spinachy on the inside. Charred cauliflower also needs to be added to your sharing plates, with sesame dip and chilli oil generously poured over it.

If you're a proper carnivore, the Chicken Yakitori and Short Rib Kushiyaki will be right up your street – both succulent and spicy. Katsu sando – beef sirloin cuts and signature katsu sauce sandwiched between Japanese milk bread – is also a good choice if you are feeling hungry: they serve several sandwiches on a plate.

And if you are feeling adventurous (or simply love a bold fish taste), order a Mackerel filet. With Yuzu tare and lemon, it delivers a punch to your taste buds that's both exciting and refreshing. You know the cuisine is fusion-led when you spot Padrón on the menu. And please go ahead and order it – the peppers are charred to perfection. And another nice touch: the Izakaya fries highly resemble an Asian-styled patatas bravas.

YURU might just become the new craze in downtown Budapest, so don't wait too long to visit. Your significant other will be impressed if you take them on a date here, or you can do pre-drinks with your mates before popping over to the boutique club DOJO or heading down to the party spot Ötkert. Or stay, and just immerse yourself in the vibes, with international DJs spinning the discs from time to time. Book here.

YURU Dinner Club

(Cover photo: Dorka Kiss, Raconteur Agency)