Milky Way Kínai Étterem (Chinese Seafood Restaurant)

Wenzhou-born owner of Milky Way restaurant knows seafood. Not just because any self-respecting man from this seaside city in China is expected to be able to make a decent plate of fish soup, it’s also that he ran a fish market for 15 years in Budapest’s Chinatown. 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 so that the ingredients can speak for themselves (Sichuan spices haven’t crept up here). And they do.

The whole steamed lobster is one of the highlights, that is, if you're willing to shell out HUF28,000 (€90) for one (remember, Hungary is a land-locked country). Another is the steamed pike perch, where a slight sprinkle of fresh leek and scallion comprise all the seasoning, leaving the center stage for the fish. Of the wallet-friendlier options, the reviving fish soup comes with pieces of octopus and surimi crab in a rich chicken broth, which is boosted by noodles, bok choy, and shiitake. The sizzling squid salad is paired with cucumber, celery, chilies, and a generous portion of meat.

Even among the under-the-radar Chinese restaurants in Budapest, which most of them are, Milky Way has taken secrecy to the next level. To access the restaurant, guests need to weave their way through a spacious parking lot, then ascend an abandoned staircase to the secod floor before the banquet hall adorned with ribbons and karaoke equipment emerges. Chinese patrons can often be seen fumbling out from one of the six private rooms following excessive, alcohol-fueled dinner feasts.