Asian food in Rome has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with a wealth of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants now serving excellent, authentic food in the Eternal City.
While there are happily many choices today for Asian food in Rome, I have singled out the following experiences for representing something a little different. Get ready to try the highest form of traditional Japanese dining, a fun Chinese hotpot restaurant, exceptional Hong Kong style dim sum, or the best of Nikkei cuisine, all brought to you by some of the best chefs in the capital for Asian food in Rome.
Kohaku Japanese restaurant
Just minutes from Via Veneto, the heart of Rome’s upmarket hotel district, Kohaku is a Japanese restaurant of the highest order, where the dining experience feels like a journey to Tokyo. The restaurant is the brainchild of young entreprenuer Sabrina Bai, who is also part of the team behind Shiroya, an excellent Japanese and sushi restaurant near Campo de’ Fiori.
Kohaku, which means amber, offers two different tasting experiences. These include pure kaiseki cuisine, served in the main hall, and an exclusive kaiseki sushi degustation menu, served at the chef’s table.
I tried both, and this latter experience, personally curated by Japanese chef Kazuaki Kawane, is the one that really stands out. This 12-course meal costs €180 per person and involves each diner being personally served by the chef who creates a myriad menu of warm and cold dishes. Raw fish is the star but also look out for refined broths and exceptional vegetable dishes. Chef Kawane heralds from near Osaka and this menu is reminiscent of the traditional houses of Kyoto, a multi-course dinner which is a true sensorial experience.
Kohaku | Via Marche 66 | Rome
Dezhuang Hot Pot
Dezhuang Hot Pot is an authentic Chinese hot pot restaurant in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio neighbourhood, an area synonymous with authentic Chinese food in Rome. Dezhuang opened in October 2021 as the brainchild of Giorgia Chen, a daughter of Chinese restaurateurs who grew up in Italy. The hot pot experience includes 9 tables equipped with hotpots, and a full range of choices both for the broth and ingredients as you might expect. Diners can choose from broth which is spicy or sweet, and then choose the degree of spiciness. Broth choices include tomato and porcini mushroom broth, opening up the experience to vegetarians and vegans as well. Definitely a great choice for Asian food in Rome.
What really impresses is the quality and range of the ingredients that diners can dip in the hot broth, cooking for a few seconds to sear the meat, innards, fish or vegetables, plus pots to cook noodles and seafood. No Chinese hot pot would be complete without the table sauces, which include satai, sesame, oyster, peanut, soy and the Dezhuang house sauce. All in all, this is a fun and delicious experience, highly recommended when in Rome!
Dezhuang Hot Pot | Via di San Vito 15/16 | Rome
Dao Bistrot – Asian food in Rome
At the start of 2023, Jianguo Shu, patron of Dao Chinese Restaurant, launched his second Chinese restaurant in the Rome in the shape of Dao Bistrot. Already well known for Dao Chinese Restaurant, Shu’s Dao Bistrot is a fun and contemporary take on Chinese cuisine that still relies on exceptionally good ingredients.
While respecting Chinese traditions in the kitchen, the menu is bold and colourful, with bright dim sum in the Hong Kong style, flavourful dishes like chicken and rice wrapped in lotus leaves, and a tasty fried sea bass which is a work of art on the table. You’ll also love touches like the Chinese ‘pizza’ and the elegant spring rolls. I was very impressed with the choices of dessert too.
The handsome space is both contemporary and traditional at the same time, with a dark, dramatic decor, a nod to Chinese lore in the shape of dragon motifs, and a grown-up, elegant dining room with great mood lighting. Perfect for date night or an escape with friends at the end of the day!
Dao Bistrot | Via Ogliastra 10 | Rome
Newkkey – Nikkei cuisine in Rome
Newkkey is a contemporary Asian fusion restaurant in the heart of Rome which combines international elegance in a dark, intimate dining room with the Japanese art of sushi making. The fusion element of the menu – which restaurant director Enrique defines as ‘fusion, not confusion’ – derives from its roots in Nikkei cuisine, which combines southern American ingredients (usually from Peru) and Japanese sushi sensibilities. This means that the fusion method and concept is well delineated and true to its own traditions.
For examples, rolls range from the signature ones such as Scenario (smoked salmon with dried herbs, Newkkey cream cheese, avocado, crunchy sweet potato and spicy sauce) and Andino ( grilled meat fillet with chimichurri sauce, covered with carpaccio of wagyu, guacamole sauce and dried onions),as well as crispy fried rolls ,featuring fish tempura and vegetables battered with panko. Except exceptional quality sashimi and uramaki, and dramatic combination plates which are served with a rolling dry ice flourish.
If you still have room for a main course, look out for meat dishes like black angus picanha, Argentine fillet or duck breast, while fish dishes include black cod, salmon fillet, prawns and scampi brought to the table on a hot volcanic rock. Desserts like white orchid and Italian mochi, served in a lacquered bento box, also add to the fun. Finally, don’t miss the good value bento boxes at lunchtime starting at just €16.
There are two branches of Newkkey in town – I visited the one in Vicolo delle Ceste, near the Pantheon, but the Via Dei Barbieri one by Campo dei Fiori serves the same menu.
Newkkey | Vicolo delle Ceste, 28 / Via dei Barbieri, 23 | Rome
Testaccina was a guest of the restaurants listed