Biwako Ramen House

Budapest has a small supply of Japanese restaurants, and those that exist serve a limited range of Japanese fare (primarily sushi- or ramen-only spots). Biwako is a welcome exception. It’s advertized as a ramen house, but they make all sorts of everyday Japanese dishes like donburi, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki. The restaurant is located across the street from The Japan Foundation in a bare-bones, underground space. Prices are somewhat higher than they should be, but try to stay focused on what really matters.

The restaurant offers four types of ramen broths of which the spicy miso, which isn’t very spicy at all, is the winner but overall none of the ramens leave a deep impression. On the other hand, the karagee is some of the best in Budapest: juicy and tender fried chicken thigh hides beneath a crispy crust. The okonomiyaki is a savory pancake interspersed with a hodgepodge of ingredients like squid, octopus, and noodles, and showered with bonito flakes, Worcestershire, and seaweed powder. It’s delicious, and Biwako is the only place in Budapest that serves it (a vegetable option is also available). The gyūdon, another popular Japanese comfort food consisting of thinly sliced beef and onions tossed over rice, is also a rarely found treat in the Hungarian capital. The only disappointment was the dorayaki, a Japanese dessert made with red-bean paste, which was stale and spongy.

Biwako's entry hall serves as a makeshift grocery store, with Japanese and Chinese loose leaf tea bags and ceramic cups on display.