The rather bohemian neighbourhood of El Born is one of the best places in town for modern Asian restaurants. From ramen bars to sushi joints and Vietnamese street food, here are some of the best places for Asian food to try in El Born.
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
One of Barcelona’s most well-known and well-loved Asian restaurants, Mosquito was one of the pioneers of the ongoing Asian food craze. Its winning combination of authentic Asian dishes – especially its selection of dumplings – and craft beer means its been right on trend for the past few years. What’s more, Mosquito’s prices have remained incredibly reasonable and you can expect to leave with a very full belly for no more than €15 (£13.4) a head.
Part of the same family as the aforementioned Mosquito, Red Ant is a newer addition to the local food scene, offering a selection of Chinese, Thai and Korean dishes – what’s not to love? The house specialty is their noodles, which are made on-site from organic flour and served with the chefs own recipe broth. Drinks-wise, you’ll find a similarly artisan selection of beers, as well as authentic Asian teas.
This is the second restaurant of the team behind Koku Kitchen, a popular ramen restaurant located in the Gothic Quarter. No prizes for guessing what the chefs at Koku Kitchen Buns/Ramen & Gyoza Bar are serving, although it’s noteworthy that there are two distinct spaces within the restaurant. A rather open upstairs restaurant specialises in bao buns and other classics, such as Korean spicy chicken wings. However, downstairs you’ll find a more intimate, more atmospheric ramen and gyoza bar, praised for its tonkotsu broth, tried and tested in the sister restaurant.
There is a handful of La Vietnamita restaurants scattered around Barcelona, including in two of Barcelona’s other hippest neighbourhoods: Sant Antoni and Gràcia. As its name suggests, La Vietnamita specialises in Vietnamese food, and especially the fresh, flavoursome street food of Ho Chi Minh. The El Born site offers casual dining and takeaway, with a menu that includes things like iconic bahn mi sandwiches, fragrant fish cakes, healthy summer rolls and tender bao buns.
Part of the family of Ikibana restaurants across Barcelona with the same concept and hyper-stylised décor, Ikibana Born specialises in Japanese-Brazilian fusion food. A tradition born of the arrival of Japanese migrants to Brazil in the early 20th century, this style of food combines the techniques and traditions of Japanese cuisine with some of the flavours and ingredients of Brazil. The result is surprising but undeniably tasty: a whole range of maki, nigiri and sashimi brimming with exotic ingredients, and dishes like wagyu beef picanha cooked in a Brazilian barbecue style with sweet-potato puree.
A relatively new addition to the Asian restaurant scene in El Born, Oishii Ramen Street is a modern ramen restaurant with a funky décor inspired by Tokyo’s entertainment district, Kabukicho. The dinning room resembles a busy Tokyo street, with shop fronts and neon signs setting the tone. The menu features an impressive list of different ramen dishes, including Japanese classics such as tonkotsu, miso and shoyu broth bases, but also fried chicken ramen, chilli beef ramen, and a kimchi ramen.
The layout and décor at Nakashita Born are reminiscient of a traditional Japanese inn, with discreet wooden tables intimately arranged around a small open kitchen. The menu features an ample selection of different sushi, but with the same aforementioned fusion of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine. One of the best ways to get a taste of the different flavours on offer is to order one of the bandejas, or trays, which come with anything between ten and 57 pieces on them.