I am quite reluctant to eat Asian food in Slovak restaurants. Not because I do not like Asian food. On the contrary, but Asian food never feels enough Asian in Slovak restaurants. (Here I have to say it is not good enough in many European countries and cities, I am afraid.) Generally, the more Asian minorities live in the country/city, the better (more authentic) the Asian food choice is. Thus, the (few) Asian ethnic groups running restaurants in Slovakia tend to customize their food too much to Slovak/European taste buds, I guess.
But! There are places in Bratislava where you can find a quite lovely Asian fare. So let’s look at it more closely. Take Japanese food first. Forget sushi. Take ramen instead. Some two years ago we found Gonnsuke Ramen stall in Fresh Market hall. Soon it became our favorite place to go out, and during colder months we used to have our Saturday family brunches there. The site is quite casual and straightforward, yet amicable and welcoming. We love all their specials, e. g. Sapporo (style) ramen or spicy Tan-Tan ramen, but basically all the ramens are delicious. So much that the Japanese guests regularly come to Gonnsuke from Vienna or Olomouc. Enough said. (Well, we would prefer creamy egg yolks, though.)
… it looks like Japanese food heaven…
Another favorite Japanese ramen shop Ramen Kazu is right in the historical city center on Panská street. The best ramen in Bratislava, no doubt. It is quite pricey, but the quality is not compromised, you get a heavenly treat here for your money. Besides ramen, chef Kazu is making some very homey and comforting meals, like curry rice, onigiri rice balls or mini dons (small rice dishes). We highly recommend this hidden place to stop by on your next big night out. Party hard, eat well!
By the way, if you choose to imbibe a little, go to Japanese pub Izakaya Koshida first. Sit right at the bar and watch the open kitchen. Order some sake and nice fatty (fried) mackerel (goes well with a slightly vinegary dipping sauce) or grilled yakitori skewers. Piping hot soba noodle soups or gyoza potstickers will do you good, too. We admit Izakaya Koshida is our new, relaxed go-to place when we want to indulge ourselves and have some fun. Would you give it a try? (Update 2019: Izakaya Koshida has changed its name and owner.)
So far it looks like Japanese food heaven, though there are some other options in Bratislava that are worth trying, too. At least some Vietnamese and Korean. We are big fans of Korean food. For a long time we looked for some charming restaurant or bistro, and finally, we found it hidden at the outskirts of Bratislava at the Zlaté Piesky lake. Called Maehwa, it does not look very appealing from the outside, nor from the inside, actually, but there are traditional cubicles here, which make it super cool hideaways. Again, forget sushi and have Korean stuff instead. Like grilled meats (grilling on your own – super fun!), hot stews, soups and rice bowls (hot or cold). There is nothing like coming with a bunch of friends and share some grub on the terrace in summer or in the cubicle in winter! Gun-bae!
Vietnamese Phong Nam shack at the biggest open-air market on Miletičová street already stands for an institution in Bratislava. Very rustic and shabby (for some even dodgy), do not get intimidated by the looks. We encouraged its owner and chef to offer some authentic Vietnamese food instead of the usual suspects in Asian bistros. The owner of Phong Nam is a big enthusiast, who took the chance and made it. Nowadays dishes like bun bo nam bo or pho bo are big hits in Bratislava and showed the way to many other Asian food proprietors. How cool is that? Would that inspire some good Chinese or Thai restaurants soon? We hope so.
Meanwhile, we can still enjoy some good examples how Slovaks execute Asian fusion. One of them being Fou Zoo – a Panasian fine dining restaurant on the other side of the Danube river, close to the railway station of Petržalka for special occasions and when you need some indulgence. Its young chef Michal Konrád is very creative and consistent in his effort to bring some fresh air into a bit stuffy Slovak food scene for many years. However, if you fancy something less formal and more hip, head back to the city center right on the Hviezdoslavovo Square to Iasai food bar, where one of Fou Zoo’s former sushi masters runs this ultra-modern fusion food bar. Have ramen or one of the daily specials – modern sushi rolls, and you are all set. Basically, anything here would make your taste buds dance – from fancy cocktails to customized soy sauce. Iasai is according to us the best new restaurant in Bratislava, and we are more than happy to realize it is Asian food restaurant. So very cool!
Not everything in Slovak gastronomy goes well. Exploring its unknown territories is one of the pleasures of the city life of ours. And whenever we come across an excellent venue, we exult at it and try to support it as much as possible. Let’s celebrate and hope these spots mentioned above stay with us and make us happy for very long.
More articles on Bratislava’s food scene:
Sweet tooths in Bratislava – ice cream, ice pops, doughnuts and more
Where the wine flies of Bratislava flock – wine bars and vinothéques
Bratislava for Coffee Lovers Found – specialty coffee shops and third wave cafés