The best restaurants in Barcelona for Asian cuisine
The popular Asian dumpling you might know as 'dim sum' has a different name nearly everywhere you go: ‘gyoza’, ‘momo’, ‘siomay’... Josep Maria Kao approaches his dim sum from the perspective of haute cuisine. The idea is to offer ambitious cuisine at reasonable prices, and there are some spectacular results, such as the fried rooster crest with beef, courgette and ginger. Kao doesn’t just make dim sum: you can also try dishes with Chinese and Catalan touches, such as the rib roast with sweet-and-sour sauce or the green beans sautéed with bacon and Maresme peas.
Yashima is a traditional luxury restaurant where you sit at low tables as if you were in Japan. They've also got a coveted 'teppan' (grill) that diners sit around, while the chef offers you whatever he's just cooked. It’s not cheap here, but the quality of the food and service make it worth the expense. Eating at Yashima is a real experience.
Japanese cuisine has taken a firm hold on the Barcelona palate. Nao Haginoya is the mastermind behind Kuo, and what he's set up is fantastic just as much for experts at using chopsticks as well as anyone who might still need a fork. The menu is extensive, and the sushi and sashimi are of the highest quality. I tend to favour the spicy tuna maki and the crispy toro maki roll, though Kuo also offers a variety of house specialities. For example, they prepare an ‘age dashi Ankou’ – a bowl with monkfish, foamed egg and dashi broth (a broth made with dried bonito and seaweed). But because I’ve fallen in love with real crab ever since I tried some in Boston, I order the ‘king crab no tempura'. If you're a fan of rice dishes, tartares, or ‘gyozas’, Kuo is highly recommended.
Bangkok Café is a small space on whose walls the different types of curries are written – yellow, green and red curry, panang, massamang – showing off a cuisine that is sandwiched between the Japanese and Chinese culinary empires that reign supreme in Barcelona. Definitely get to this top Thai restaurant, but just be sure you're ready if you order spicy.
For some time now, Chen Ji has been known as the Chinese-Chinese of Barcelona – that is, an authentic restaurant without the usual ornaments such as red balls, dragons or illuminated panels with waterfalls. It’s the most normal place you could imagine, all very simple and practical. They have long opening hours. From 9am to well past midnight you can stop off for a bowl of noodles or soup, or try the self-service menu for about €5. What's that? You've never had steamed dumplings for breakfast? What are you waiting for?
Mosquito is the height of exoticism. They prepare excellent Cantonese cuisine, especially the lovely Chinese dumplings known as dim sum. Owner Giles is an Englishman who, after travelling round Asia for years, decided to open a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona, while avoiding clichés. To make it even more different from the norm, he's got four taps of exquisite English beers and an offer of more than 70 brands of bottled craft beer from Catalonia and around the world. If you're in the mood for a certain type of beer, just ask. Giles seems to have written the encyclopaedia on the stuff.
It seems that four tables and a Japanese couple are all you need to create some of the best sushi in Barcelona: grilled salmon nigiri, salmon and turnip makis... and Japanese desserts. It's your ticket to Japan without boarding a plane. Just bear in mind that they're only open at night (except on Sundays, when it's just lunch).
The 'petit' was taken out of El Petit Bangkok when it moved to this bigger space in 2012. It's grown in size but hasn't lost anything in the process, thanks to the honesty and skill of Dani and his team. It's not for nothing that big fans of Thai food consider this the best in Barcelona. It's always a great idea to start with spring rolls, whether you opt for the Thai chicken with veg, the prawn ones. The 'tom kha kai' (chicken coconut soup) with aromas of Thai herbs and chunks of chicken brought a smile to our faces. There's a festival of choice for vegetarians too. From the vegetarian spring rolls to the skewers of fresh tofu with tamarind and peanut sauce to the vegetarian Thai dumplings stuffed with wild mushrooms, chestnuts and veg with a fantastic flavour and mix of textures. And lest we forget the wok dishes and curries...
As a tribute to this spot that's so different from others of its ilk, so contrary to many that dare to call themselves Asian restaurants, this review will be like an inverted pyramid, and we'll start at the end. The desserts are simple and not ostentatious, but home-made and very good. The wine list reveals an interest in satisfying customers who want to eat and drink well. The tuna tartare is cut and prepared magnificently. The 'suke' salmon was the big surprise for its quality and taste. The 'nem' are carefully prepared with rice paper, prawns or crab, carrots, onions, soy beans, coriander, lettuce and thought, served chilled with sweet-and-sour sauce. So now we're up to the starters. The miso soup isn't just your garden variety but with well-selected seaweed and delicate, high-quality tofu. The 'gyoza' dumplings also put Momos apart from the rest we've tried.