Worldly Tastes: 9 great spots to eat Japanese food in Budapest
Photo : We Love Budapest / László Balkányi
12/3/2015, 8:57 AM●6-minute article
Japanese cuisine isn’t just about rice and raw fish, and to prove it we’ve collected those Japanese restaurants and eateries where the menu is diverse and everything tastes just as it should. Best yet, there’s no need to jump on a plane to Tokyo – find these great Japanese restaurants right here in Budapest. From sushi to karaage karee, from gyoza and daikon radish to wasabi cocktails and yaki onigiri. Enjoy!
In the heart of one of the busiest partyhotspots in the city (it’s kind of opposite Szimpla Kert), there is a small but welcoming place, serving Japanese ramen soup. The essence of the dish is a well-flavoured broth loaded with an incredible amount of homemade noodles (soba or egg) and seasonal vegetables: bok choy, wood-ear mushrooms, carrot, bean sprouts, shallots and so on. You can ask for the spicier version or a vegetarian serving. Alternatively you can have the soup with seafood, beef, chicken or chashu (pork belly braised in sweet and savory soy sauce) added. You might think that a soup is just a starter, but believe us: with all the toppings, Ramenka’s meals are as filling as any main. They also have side dishes like gyoza, daikon radish, Chinese cucumber salad or Chinese potato with chilli if you are hungry anyway.
Wasabiis the only running sushi restaurant in the capital. For a fixed price, you can eat (and try) all you want. Wasabi awaits guests with an open kitchen, so you can take a look at how all the delicious meals are prepared and see what’s next on the conveyor belt. The dishes are as close to authentic as they can be so far from Japan. All kinds of dishes are served from sushi rolls to cold dishes and wok-cooked meat, the restaurant is perfect for taking the first steps in the land of Japanese cuisine for those who are new to these flavours. There are two Wasabi restaurants: one on the Pest-side (between Oktogon and the Nyugati Railway Station) and one on the Buda-side (near Kolosy Square). They also do home delivery.
In Japan, some of the best spots are hidden or really hard to find unless you know exactly where to look. The same goes for one of the best sushi bars in the capital. The chef, Okuyama San, was born on an island called Hachijō-jima, that currently has about 8000 people living there. He arrived to Budapest via Tokyo and Viennaand he’s worked at places like the Hilton before he opened his small restaurant in the Kolosy Üzletház. What you can expect here is without exaggeration a Japanese miracle: tasty sushi, authentic ingredients and good vibrations. You simply can’t go wrong with it. There is also home delivery if you don’t feel like going out.
Located in the Corvinus Kempinski Hotel, the Hungarian location of Chef Nobu Matsuhiha’s dining empire is far from what we would call wallet-friendly, but in exchange it represents the highest and most luxurious class of the Japanese cuisine available here in Budapest. There’s a restaurant, a sushi bar and a private room for private parties. Some world-famous dishes like black cod with miso or yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño are available to try here. Yes, jalapeño – Nobu is famous for reinventing traditional Japanese techniques via a fusion with South American flavours.
The idea behind this small Japanese bistro is to introduce people to Japanese food in Budapest and to show that it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to go to this type of restaurant. At the very least they show that the dishes of the Far East are more than worth a try. What is their secret? They have more than 100 different items on their menu and you can definitely see that Japanese food is more than just sushi, maki and miso soup. Here you can find specialities like okonomiyaki saishoku (a type of vegetarian pancake), Japanese curry, grilled squid pasta, shitake mushrooms and Japanese style beans. The flavours are not adapted for Hungarian tastebuds – if you travel to Japan, you would find the same flavours. The place also has a solid selection of sake, potato pálinka, surprisingly good Japanese whisky and Japanese beers (Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo).
Kanpai Izakaya – Japanese Bistro (closed)
Address: 1055 Budapest, Szent István körút 17.
At TOKIO, everything is slightly cyberpunk: the dishes are beautiful, the cocktails are amazing, the music is new, the ramen is delicious. This restaurant and bar moved replaced Kyoto at Széchenyi Square. Neon lights, LED walls and a gigantic robot foot – this is how Neon Genesis Evangelion and Japanese cuisine meet in Budapest. Besides the interior, the food selection is also rethought, resulting in a restaurant-bar hybrid offering classic Japanese cuisine sprinkled with a hint of humour (from ramen through tiger prawn tempura to wok and sushi compositions, all courtesy ofKrisztián Luczy and Maki Stevenson). The Japanese beers, sakes, and curious concoctionssuch as the Wasabi Cocktail or the TOKIO Mojito are also worth mentioning. Let’s hope that Godzilla will have mercy on the place – at least until you try one of their dishes.
Good sushi for a good price, that’s what Sushi Express is about. Located on Klauzál Square this small restaurant serves fifteen kinds of sushi every day, but the chefs also try to accommodate special requests, which means that there isn’t any special sushi they couldn’t prepare for you. Every ingredient comes straight from Japan, guaranteeing the authenticity and quality of the sushi rolls you can have here. In addition to sushi, you can also enjoy salads here, which are varied thanks to seasonal ingredients and trends. Some days they have discounts on the sushi.
Address: 1072 Budapest, Klauzál tér 14.
Fuji, in District II, serves the most delicious dishes of Japanese cuisine. The restaurant stands atop the luxurious suburb called Rózsadomb, among parks and family homes. If you’re looking for high quality without compromises, this is a place to book a table. The prices are high, but good Japanese food is worth it. The interior is modest, the furnishing is minimalist, the walls are adorned with paintings by Hokusaki and Hiroshige. The owner, Mr Higashiguchi, follows traditional Japanese philosophy, so his restaurant complies with Japanese gastronomical principles. The special ingredients are imported directly for Japan or procured from the best organic farms in Hungary.
Japanese fast food in the Jewish District? Yes! Just like Ramenka, Komachi is about stomach-warming dishes, mostly made with homemade udon – suudon (udon soup), sarada udon (udon salad), zaru udon (cold udon on woodplate), karee udon (udon with Japanese curry-based stew), and ankake udon (udon with ankake stew). Other specialities include yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) and karaage karee (karaageis Japanese fried chicken that is marinated in soy sauce and ginger). They also have special drinks like Calpis, a popular drink in Japan, and mugicha, which is roasted barley tea.
Address: 1073 Budapest, Kertész Street 33. Open: Tuesday – Sunday noon – 10pm Phone: + 36 70 297 4942