The 12 Best Japanese Restaurants In Budapest

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 Hungarians so few places serve them. Sushi and sashimi are more prevalent, but fresh seafood is expensive in a landlocked country. Nonetheless, the restaurants below serve the most true-to-Japan flavors in Budapest.

#1 Komachi Bistro

Komachi is an unfussy Japanese restaurant in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter specializing in everyday Japanese dishes. For a Central Europe-based restaurant, there's a refreshingly broad range of Japanese dishes here including ramen, which is available with three types of broths, tonkatsu, curry, karaage, and donburi.

#2 Ennmann Japanese Restaurant

Don't be foooled by the puritan below-ground space, Ennmann is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Budapest. The restaurant'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. Also good is the katsudon (€9), a rice bowl topped with eggs, onions, and sliced pork cutlet, and the yakisoba (€7) buckwheat noodles.

#3 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. Welcome to Okuyama no Sushi. With a puritan, absurdly bare interior, the place looks nothing like the fancy-shmancy sushi restaurant you might find in New York or London.

#4 Nobu Restaurant

Thanks to a late Hungarian businessman, Andy Vajna, who had Hollywood connections, Budapest is home to a Nobu, the world’s fanciest chain restaurant (Robert De Niro is an owner). Even more impressively, it's the one and only Nobu in Central Europe with the closest being in Milan. This upscale Japanese-Peruvian restaurant is located inside the five-star Kempinski hotel in Budapest's downtown.

#5 Sushi Ocean

A Chinese businessman from Shanghai set out to open Budapest’s best sushi restaurant. The result is Sushi Ocean, a casual but pricey below-ground spot on a downtown side street. When you enter, don't be surprised when the entire staff, donning traditional outfits, cheerfully greets you in Japanese. If sushi is what you came for, try to sit at the counter to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into transforming the raw fish and grains of rice into beautifully shaped nigiri.

#6 Biwako Ramen House

Biwako fashions itself as a ramen house, but I find their non-ramen Japanese dishes to be their strongest suit: the donburi, the okonomiyaki, and the takoyaki. The restaurant is strategically located across the street from The Japan Foundation in Budapest's District 6, inside a plain, very modest below-ground space.

#7 Fuji Japanese Restaurant

When it opened in 1991, Fuji was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Budapest. From a Japan-inspired posh dining room, they served pricey dishes to well-off locals and expats looking for exotic tastes in post-communist Budapest. Almost three decades hence—an eternity in restaurant years—Fuji is still around. After several visits, it appears that Fuji’s continued popularity is rooted in its longevity and status symbol rather than the quality of its kitchen.

#8 Sushi Sei

Sushi Sei is an upscale Japanese restaurant a bit outside the city center in Óbuda. 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.

#9 Japan Okonomiyaki Kincsán

Japan Okonomiyaki Kincsán is a teeny-tiny takeout restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake. Okonomiyaki is a street food made from grilled cabbage, eggs, and a host of other ingredients packed into a wheat-flour-based batter. As in Japan, they prepare your order on the electric griddle right before you.

#10 DON DOKO DON Japan Bistro

Most Japanese restaurants in Budapest specialize in sushi even though local Hungarian tastes and wallets are more compatible with everyday Japanese dishes. Perhaps this is what the Tomokis, a young couple from Tokyo, had in mind when in 2018 they opened DON DOKO DON, Budapest’s first donburi restaurant near the city center. It's a small, counter-service place with a few tables on the upstairs.

#11 Sushi VIBES

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 on a District 6 side street, within walking distance from Andrássy Avenue. The owner-chef, who hails from Fukuoka in southern Japan, set up shop in Budapest in 2018 after stints in the Netherlands and Germany. She uses nori (seaweed) and rice imported from Japan.

#12 Ramenka

Ramenka is a chic ramen shop right on Kazinczy Street in Budapest’s party central, a stone's throw away from the famous Szimpla ruin bar. This tourist-heavy location means that the place is filled to capacity at all times with a foreign crowd, often with a line forming outside the building. Guests have to eat at the elongated communal table that anchors the tiny inside. Thanks to the backless, uncomfortable tree stumps used as stools, there's little post-meal lingering and tables turn over quickly.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.