Milky Way Kínai Étterem (Chinese Seafood Restaurant / 唐人街大酒楼)
Wenzhou-born owner of Milky Way Seafood Restaurant knows a thing or two about crustaceans. Not only because any self-respecting man from this seaside Chinese city is expected to make a decent fish soup, it’s also that he worked at a fish market for 15 years before venturing into the restaurant business. Accordingly, Milky Way specializes in what he knows best: whole steamed lobsters, crabs, tiger prawns, shrimps, carps, and more. They cook live animals and use little seasoning to let the ingredients speak for themselves (Sichuan spices haven’t crept up here). And they do.
The standout dish at Milky Way is the whole steamed lobster, that is, if you're willing to shell out HUF28,000 or €90 for one (remember, Hungary is a landlocked country, so it's expensive to deliver seafood here from Western Europe and Italy). Another popular item is the steamed pike perch (€33) with a light sprinkle of fresh leeks and scallions, leaving the center stage for the fish.
Among the wallet-friendlier options, the fish soup comes with pieces of octopus and surimi crab inside a rich chicken broth boosted by noodles, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms. Also good was the generous portion of sizzling squid salad paired with cucumber, celery, and some chilies. Besides seafood, Milky Way also serves an excellent Peking duck (€30), enough for 2-3 people (no advance notice is necessary).
Even among the under-the-radar Chinese restaurants in Budapest's Chinatown, Milky Way has taken secrecy to the next level. Guests need to weave their way through a courtyard parking lot, then climb the stairs to the second floor to reach the restaurant's banquet hall adorned with karaoke equipment. In the back of the space are six private dining rooms, from where Chinese customers can often be seen fumbling out following alcohol-fueled feasts.