What not to do at a Japanese restaurant in Budapest

I’ve been really bad at keeping up with the blog these days. Between travelling (still getting over that) when I usually don’t write anything to just catching up with life in general, it’s been quite hectic around here, not to say the very least. I spent a few days in Budapest last week, also met the amazing Jen from The Great Escape and had a blast basically. I fell in love with the city and really cannot wait to visit again (I know I say this for every single place I’ve been to but it’s hard not to). There is one thing (well many actually) however that still keeps me giggling whenever I think about our stay in Budapest.

For our last evening in Budapest last week, (mostly) PC and I decided to go for sushi but instead of the local sushi bar, we ended up at a very posh traditional Japanese restaurant, rightfully named Mt. Fuji, which probably is one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been to (none of us usually makes this a habit) and where I’ve eaten one of the best Japanese food in my life. It did however end up in a very socially awkward and extremely enlightening evening which we’re not likely to forget anytime soon – same could be said for the staff. Without further ado, here’s what is NOT the norm at such a venue:

  1. Say that you’re vegan

Nope, I don't eat fish (and no they didn't serve me fish, this was PC's)
Nope, I don’t eat fish (and no they didn’t serve me fish, this was PC’s)

Because the little Japanese lady in the beautiful kimono will be confused, ask if you eat fish and then send you the other waiter who speaks better English, who will in turn call (who I assumed was) the head chef who will scare the hell out of your and will tell you that you can’t change the menu. By the end of it, you’ll be talking to the head of management who will starts suggesting some dishes – by which you would have already chosen what you want and would just be hoping that someone would shut up so that you can order. No big deal.

  1. Order a whole boat of food for one person

Yup, it truly is a whole boat of food
Yup, it truly is a whole boat of food
Warning: this may result in death. Whilst I decided to go for a simple udon noodle soup with fried tofu, edamame and shitake mushroom in soy sauce, PC went big. I have admit, it’s not every day that we splashed out on fancy restaurants in any case although this backfired quite… hilariously (for me anyway). The above mentioned scary head chef was quite adamant on the fact that the boat was enough for only one person; I’m not quite sure what kind of appetite regular customers tended to have at Mt. Fuji but even after two hours of eating and me helping to finish the side dishes, that freaking boat was still as full as it was at the beginning. We ended up having to have everything packed to take home. Boat challenge: FAILED.

  1. Expect to eat edamame and keep your dignity

Evil beans.
Evil beans.
I’m quite adept with chopsticks but I have to say that even I found it hard to put the soybeans pods in my mouth, squeeze the beans out and then take out the pod out to put it in the other bowl you were given. I chewed the first pod, used my hands more than a few times and lost some to the table cloth at time. Basically, embarrassed myself eating plain steamed edamame with salt in one of the fanciest restaurants I have ever been. Was it entertaining though? Hell yeah!

  1. Dare to rearrange the plates and sauces on the table

I swear every time (must have been one or two times) we’d move things – for example, get the soy sauce –, someone would hop along and put it back in its place. We did consider moving something just for the sake of it just to see what would happen but we didn’t – refer to the above for the scary head chef.

  1. Order your food in English

Presenting my "Kitsune Udon"
Presenting my “Kitsune Udon”
No we weren’t expected to speak Hungarian as everyone spoke near perfect English at the restaurant. When we finally got around to ordering our food, we were told by the manager that we should use the Japanese names instead of the English ones despite both being written on the menu to avoid any confusion. I have to say, I was quite glad I had been an anime/manga geek during my teenage years and probably avoided more embarrassment given all the other faux pas we were not-so-proudly guilty of.

I would actually make the fancy restaurants a habit, just for the fun of it, if ever I could afford it.

P.S. Have I said how much the food was amazing? Oh yeah, I have.

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10 thoughts on “What not to do at a Japanese restaurant in Budapest”

  1. Well 😛 Budapest is officially off the Honeymoon destination list! The fiance and I are thinking of some exotic European country to visit for about two weeks… Sighs.. Thanks for helping us chalk one off 😛

  2. This seems unnecessarily complicated, but maybe I’m just jealous because great sushi is hard to come by in Moscow 😉 And now that’s what I want for breakfast.

  3. There is a Japanese restaurant where I live that we sometimes go to. It is never my choice to eat there as I am allergic to shellfish and usually just dine on the fried rice but everyone else says the Japanese food there is delicious.

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