It’s not easy to find good Japanese food in Budapest—the Japanese expat community is small, and everyday Japanese dishes like donburi, curry, and karaage are largely unknown to local residents, so few places serve them. Sushi and sashimi are more prevalent, but fresh seafood is expensive in a landlocked country. Nonetheless, the below restaurants serve the most authentic Japanese food in Budapest, and these are also the places that Japanese expats frequent. (Learn more about Budapest's Japanese community and food scene.)
Komachi, a no-frills Japanese restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter, is committed to proving that there's more to Japanese food than sushi. For a Central Europe-based restaurant, Komachi serves a refreshingly broad range of everyday Japanese dishes like ramen (miso, shio, and soy-based), tonkatsu, curry, karaage, and donburi..
Run by a Chinese couple out of a bare, below-ground space, Ennmann restaurant offers some of the best Japanese food in Budapest. Ennmann’s strongest suit is seafood: besides chirashi, sashimi, and regular sushi (nigiri and maki), they serve a host of maki variations. I went with the six-piece nigiri plate (€9), packing a pair of tuna, salmon, and sea bass each, and it didn’t disappoint. The shrimp tempura—seafood dressed in a thin layer of batter and quickly deep-fried—has a crispy crust and juicy meat.
Okuyama no Sushi, one of Budapest’s best sushi restaurants, is buried in the basement of a strip mall, doesn’t have a functional Facebook page, and its website looks as if it hasn’t been updated in a decade. With a humbe, bare-bones interior, it's far from a fancy-shmancy sushi restaurant. Owner and sushi chef, Sachi Okuyama, ran the sushi restaurant inside the Hilton Budapest before opening Okuyama in 2001. His signature is the oversized nigiri sushi, where fresh pieces of salmon, tuna or prawn sit atop the warm, perfectly vinegared rice.
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). This upscale Japanese-Peruvian restaurant is located inside the five-star Kempinski hotel in Budapest's downtown. .
A Chinese businessman from Shanghai set out to open Budapest’s best sushi restaurant. The result is Sushi Ocean, a pricey, below-ground spot on a quiet downtown side street. Upon entry, don't be surprised when the entire staff, wearing traditional outfits, cheerfully greets you in Japanese..
Biwako is advertised as a ramen house, but I find their non-ramen Japanese dishes—donburi, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki—to be their strongest suit. The restaurant, which is pricey, is across the street from The Japan Foundation inside a plain, very humble below-ground space. .
Most Japanese restaurants in Budapest serve higher-end fare like sushi, even though local Hungarian tastes and wallets are more compatible with simpler dishes. Perhaps this is what Mr. Tomoki and his wife, a young couple from Tokyo, thought when in 2018 they opened DON DOKO DON, Budapest’s first donburi restaurant. It's a small, counter-service place with a few tables, located near the city center.
When it opened in 1991, Fuji was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Budapest. From a tastefully upscale venue they served pricey Japanese fare to well-heeled locals and expats looking for exotic tastes in post-communist Budapest. Almost three decades later—an eternity in restaurant years—Fuji is still around..
Sushi Sei is an upscale Japanese restaurant a bit outside the city center in Buda. Popular types of raw seafood dominate the menu: sashimi, maki (cut sushi rolls), nigiri (mounds of rice topped with fish filet), and chirashi (fish scattered over vinegared rice in a bowl). Apart from the typical tuna, salmon, and prawn options, Sushi Sei's impressively broad fish selections also include eel, sea bass, octopus, squid, and salmon roe..
If you're craving good sushi but don't feel like going for a long, sit-down dinner, head over to Sushi VIBES. It's a teeny-tiny counter service restaurant in a District 6 side street, within walking distance from Andrássy Avenue. The owner-chef lady, who hails from Fukuoka in southern Japan, set up shop in Budapest in 2018, after stints in the Netherlands and Germany. She imports both the nori (seaweed) and the rice from Japan..
Ramenka is a chic, shoe-box-sized ramen shop right on Kazinczy Street, Budapest’s party central, a stone's throw away from the famed Szimpla ruin bar. This tourist-heavy location means that Ramenka is constantly filled to capacity with a foreign crowd, often with a line forming outside the building. Guests eat at the elongated communal table in the middle of the small space, and thanks to the backless, uncomfortable tree stumps used as stools, there's little post-meal lingering—tables turn over quickly. .