It’s not easy to find Japanese food in Budapest that’s comparable to that served in Japan. Everyday Japanese dishes like donburi, tonkatsu, curry, and tempura are largely unknown to Hungarians, hence only a few places serve them. Sushi and sashimi are more popular, but it’s a challenge to prepare fresh seafood in a landlocked country like Hungary (it also doesn’t help that fish consumption here is the lowest within the EU). Nonetheless, the handful of restaurants and tea rooms listed below offer the best and most authentic Japanese dining and drinking experiences in Budapest. See the overview section for more details about the Japanese community and food landscape in Budapest.
For most people in Hungary, sushi is synonymous with Japanese food. Komachi, a no-frills Japanese restaurant in the outer part of the Jewish Quarter, is committed to proving otherwise. For a Central Europe based restaurant, it serves a refreshingly broad range of everyday Japanese staples. Everything from miso-, shio-, and soy-based ramen to curry, tonkatsu, karaage, and donburi.
A Chinese man from Shanghai set out to open Budapest’s best sushi restaurant. To that end, he recruited Yoshihito Hiro, an experienced Japanese sushi chef to oversee the entire operation. .
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..
Thanks to a well-connected Hungarian businessman, Budapest is home to a Nobu, the world’s fanciest chain restaurant. Even more impressively, it's the one and only Nobu in Central Europe (the closest one is in Milan). The upscale restaurant is located inside the five-star Kempinski hotel in Budapest's downtown. Visitors familiar with Nobu restaurants elsewhere in the world should rest assured that, in Budapest too, they will find all of Mr.
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.
The few Japanese restaurants that exist in Budapest focus on higher end Japanese fare like sushi, even though local Hungarian tastes and wallets would be more compatible with the simpler Japanese dishes. Perhaps this is what Mr. Tomoki and his wife, a young couple from Tokyo, thought when in January 2018 they opened DON DOKO DON, Budapest’s first donburi restaurant. .
Ennmann delivers a no-frills but authentic Japanese experience to Budapest diners. Opened in 2016, the place is actually run by a Chinese couple with the husband managing the kitchen and his wife taking care of the dining area. They have extensive sushi and sashimi selections that on some days are prepared better and fresher than on others (seafood deliveries are three to four times a week). Of the non-raw fish dishes the shrimp tempura is among the better ones: the seafood dressed in a thin layer of batter receives a quick deep-fry, which makes for a crispy crust and juicy flavors beneath it.
Raw seafood takes center stage at this oversized Buda restaurant. Three popular sushi variations dominate the menu along with sashimi cuts: maki (cut rolls), nigiri (mounds of rice topped with fish filet), and chirashi (fish over vinegared rice in a bowl). The fish selections are impressively broad, besides the usual tuna, salmon, and prawn options, raw eel, sea bass, octopus, squid, and salmon roe are also prevalent. The chirashi bowl (HUF6,900 or c.€23) is the best and least expensive way to sample a cross section of the most interesting cuts.
There’re many things to like about Ramenka, this shoe-sized ramen shop in the heart of Budapest’s party street (Kazinczy). The beautifully tender and flavorful pork belly is one of them. Each of the classic ramen soups come with about half a dozen pieces, which is as generous a meat serving as one will find in a ramen. .
When Fuji opened in 1991, it was Budapest’s first Japanese restaurant. Accordingly, people embraced it with that unbounded positivity that surrounded post-communist novelties at the time. Located in an elite Buda neighborhood, it quickly became the pan-Japanese restaurant that catered to Budapest’s wealthiest residents with all tastes of Japan: from sushi to noodles, fried, and skewered dishes. Almost two decades later Fuji is still around, which in restaurant years is an eternity.
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.