Okuyama no Sushi

One of Budapest’s best sushi restaurants is buried in the basement of an unremarkable strip mall. It doesn’t have a functional facebook page, let alone an instagram handle, and its website looks as if it hasn’t been updated in a decade. Perhaps the obscurity of Okuyama no Sushi is itself a marketing tool, and if that’s the case, it works well: after all, who doesn’t like the sense of satisfaction that follows an unexpected discovery? To avoid any disappointments, know before you go that the interior is utilitarian at best, and verges on grungy.

Sushi chef/owner Sachi Okuyama has been working with raw fish for over three decades (he ran a sushi restaurant at the Hilton Budapest before opening Okuyama in 2001) and he certainly knows his craft. Mr. Okuyama makes oversized nigiri sushi that have come to be known his signature style, and usually tops them with salmon, tuna, prawn, and butterfish. The rice has the right amount of vinegar, but it's liable to fall apart too easily. One of the supreme servings at Okuyama is the asari tsukudani. It’s a bowl of boiled clams richly seasoned in soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar, imparting not only a complex flavor of sweet, salty, and sour, but also a distinct gummy texture. Don’t miss it. Go for the grilled pike mackerel (sanma) when in season – it’s a wonderful treat, particularly with the freshly grated radish. He also serves tamagoyaki, which is a Japanese rolled omelette dressed with seaweed.

Perhaps Okuyama wouldn't stand out in cities bigger than Budapest, or in those more accessible to saltwater fish, but for the time being it’s one of the best sushi restaurants in the city.