The East has finally arrived in Madrid with all its culinary delights, and it is here to stay. From locales with traditional Japanese wall panels and bite sized sushi to those with saffron colored Indian decorations and plates studded with spices, Asian restaurants have been successfully tempting diners accustomed to the Spanish and European palate with the promise of something different and wonderful. With or without chopsticks, too.
In fact, to the delight of many Madrid diners (locals, visitors and immigrants alike), Asian cuisines like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and others are becoming ever more popular in increasingly cosmopolitan Madrid. Some are the result of Spanish businesses expanding their repertoires with Asian trends, while others are owed to immigrant entrepreneurs cooking up a taste of their homelands. What is for certain though is that great Asian restaurants can now be found throughout the city and now many Madrid locals have at least one favorite Asian restaurant in their neighborhood. Now for steamed dumplings, hearty barbeque, fried tempura, spicy curries and all the great tastes of Asia, you no longer even have to contemplate leaving Spain’s exciting capital of Madrid. Great Asian food can literally be found around the corner these days.
UDON Noodle Bar & Restaurant
Udon is a modern, casual Japanese restaurant that caters to the Spanish diner. It's fun, economical and good for a quick bite. (You wouldn't be too off base if you wanted to call it fast food, either.) The offerings at Udon include Yaki Udon, Yakisoba, Udon, Soba, rice dishes, salads, sushi-inspired noodle rolls, and side dishes like Edamame, Miso Soup and Chicken Thai Fingers. Besides the great selection of teas, they have sake and Spanish wine and beer. Try the Vieira Tempura on the Gourmet Menu for the ultimate in Spanish-Japanese fusion. (Vieiras are common in the Spanish region of Galicia.) (915323369)
If you are looking for something a little different from Spanish food for a meal, China Crown is a quality Chinese restaurant that has plenty of delectable dishes from which to choose, and they are at reasonable prices to boot. Your choices can include anything from duck to pork to lobster to rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Be sure to try their famous Dim Sum though, which is a bit similar to the idea of Spanish tapas. The tables at China Crown can be close together, but the restaurant has a good atmosphere and the service is good. Metro: Tetu�n (91-572-1464)
Kotobuki is a welcome addition to the culinary offerings in the upmarket neighborhood of Salamanca. Kotobuki restaurant serves up traditional Japanese cuisine in an elegant, upscale, yet slightly more casual than you probably expected setting. Like other restaurants in the well known Kabuki Group, Kotobuki does well on food presentation and service, but the prices aren't as high here as at, say, their flagship Kabuki Wellington. For a complete experience, try one of their tantalizing fixed price meals (though they aren't currently available for weekend lunches). Then apart from the on-site dining, Kotobuki offers delivery, catering services and sushi lessons. (915 638 600)
Oishii Sushi y Ramen
As its name suggests, Oishii Sushi & Ramen is a Japanese restaurant and noodle house dedicated to the art of sushi, ramen and udon. It embodies a youthful Japanese spirit with its slick, bright, almost neon-colored d�cor and reasonable prices to match. There are also a few vegetarian options. In the center of the restaurant you'll find a rotating sushi bar where you can grab any item that strikes your fancy. Its price is determined by one of five color-coded stickers. Besides the Callao location tucked away on Miguel Moya street, there are two more Oishii Sushi & Ramens: one on Zurbano and the other in Alonso Martinez. (915 22 75 74)
If you can't decide between Japanese and Korean food, then Nippon has got you covered. The menu is mostly Japanese fare, like sashimi and bento boxes, but there are also a number of Korean specialties, such as bulgogi. Located near the Bank of Spain, Nippon is a solid bet for lunch and dinner, especially on Mondays, when many restaurants aren't open.
If you're on a budget or simply or prefer your food al fresco (Retiro Park is within walking distance), take note: Nippon offers a significant discount (think 50% off on some dishes) if you order your food for takeout. (913 600 354)
This Indian restaurant offers diners a quiet, intimate atmosphere in which they can enjoy a traditional thali or tandoori meal. The food is delicious, varied and a good alternative to the Indian restaurants located in Lavapies. Brightly colored Indian tapestries adorn the walls of Taj Mahal. The waitstaff here is very friendly, and speaks both English and Spanish. The crowd at Taj Mahal is a nice mix of locals, students, business people, and tourists. (While neighboring restaurants can get too loud and full and turn people away, Taj Mahal always seems to have room for everyone to have a tranquil meal.) METRO: Chueca. (913 91 45 86)
Han Gang Restaurante Coreana
Popular with local Koreans, this restaurant offers a cozy dining experience and terrific service. The wood paneled dining area tends to get a bit tight at times, but the staff can make arrangements for larger groups if you phone ahead. The salmon and tuna sushi are popular items, and the menu also includes good rice-optional dishes that are served with seaweed, spinach, and spicy, caramelized sauce. Best of all, you get to cook many of the dishes yourself at your table, which can be fun to do with friends. Consider ordering some kimchee a must at Han Gang. METRO: Atocha (91-528-1201)
This isn't a hoity-toity Japanese place to which you bring a first date. No, Donzoko is more like a "home away from home" in which you feel at ease and might be tempted to take off your shoes. One of Madrid's oldest Japanese restaurants, Donzoko is decorated in the fashion of a typical Japanese house and is conducive to casual restaurant dining with friends and family. The chefs are from Japan and they are famous for their sushi and tempura, as well as a Japanese stew called Sukiyaki. Donzoko also has a great wine selection to complement any dinner entree. Metro: Sevilla (91-429-5720)
Modern, stylish and intimate, Kai Japanese is a great place to go for well-made sushi and traditional Japanese fare. This is especially true if you're planning on hitting one of the nearby bars or clubs in the Chueca neighborhood afterwards. The service is good at Kai Japanese, though not effusive, and the prices are reasonable for quality Japanese food. Kai Japanese is also one of the few good restaurants in Madrid that doesn't close between lunch and dinner, and are open every day. Unlike some of the other restaurants in the vicinity, however, reservations are not absolutely necessary, but they are still appreciated. (915 23 03 14)
Located in the five star luxury hotel Villa Magna, this restaurant is where you should go if you are looking for a high-class Chinese meal. At Tse Yang you will have an experience you won't forget. The atmosphere is sophisticated and reminiscent of Shanghai's glamorous heyday with its beautiful and carefully orchestrated Cantonese décor. The garden is also a charming setting for savoring your meal. The star of the Tse Yang restaurant, however, is the delicious food -- all washed down with bottomless Chinese tea. Try not to leave Madrid without trying Tse Yang's specialty, lacquered duck. Metro: Serrano, Rub�n Dar�o (91-431-1888)
About Sarah Rogers
Born and raised in northern California, Sarah grew up to become an expat, traveler and wordsmith. She spent seven years in Madrid, Spain and now calls Buenos Aires, Argentina home. She has had the privilege of visiting a number of countries and working as a writer and content consultant doing what she loves best: facilitating intercultural communication through the written word.
Read more about Sarah Rogers here.