It is no secret that I absolutely love Asian food. From fragrant Thai curries to the fiery kick of Sichuan cuisine, I crave it all. When I’m not cooking Asian food at home, I head out to one of Cologne’s many delicious Asian restaurants to satisfy my cravings. As Germany’s 4th largest city, Cologne is home to a diverse culinary scene. Among the many options, Asian cuisine stands out as a popular choice for locals and visitors alike.
From sleek sushi spots to cozy hole-in-the-wall joints, Cologne has an assortment of delicious options to choose from. I’ve compiled a list of the best Asian restaurants in Cologne, sorted by different regions such as Vietnamese or Japanese. Now I’m going to let you in on a tightly held local secret – if you want truly exceptional Asian food in NRW, you should head north to Cologne’s rival city of Düsseldorf. While I am proud of Cologne for many things, I have to admit that Düsseldorf has us beat when it comes to Japanese and Korean food. It’s just better.
But I don’t always want to make the 50km trek up to Düsseldorf for a bowl of ramen or a plate of sushi. As such, I have spent time diving deep into Cologne’s Asian restaurants to find hidden gems that will impress even the most discerning foodies. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor exploring Cologne, this guide is your key to unlocking the delectable world of Asian cuisine in the Domstadt. In this blog post, I am highlighting standout dishes that each restaurant has to offer. It is my hope that die-hard fans of Japanese ramen and newcomers to Korean barbecue will read on to discover the top Asian restaurants in Cologne.
The Complete Guide to Cologne’s Asian Food Scene
Chinese & Korean
Bai Lu Noodles – Palmstraße 41
If you happen to be shopping at one of the Belgian Quarter’s cute boutiques, Bai Lu Noodles is an easy place to grab a bowl of delicious Chinese soup. Head Chef Xue Bai brings her cooking experience from the Chongqing region of China, and specializes in dumplings, soup and homemade noodles. The restaurant has pretty tight quarters but their patio on a quiet street is a nice option on a sunny day. The menu is super enticing, but I am such a sucker for the broth dumpling soups. I always wind up ordering the same thing! The flavor is so rich, and the chili oil adds a beautiful heat.
Nakwon Korean BBQ – Bonner Str. 73
Anyone who likes family style eating will love the lively and social atmosphere of Nakwon Korean BBQ. In the heart of the Südstadt neighborhood, Nakwon offers a traditional barbecue experience. The charcoal grill is integrated in the table so you can grill your own meats and veggies while languishing over conversation with your friends. The flavors are simple and the service is mediocre, but the experience is always a fun time especially in a larger group.
Sushi & Japanese
Takumi Ramen Chicken & Vegan — Antwerpener Str. 63
Arguably the most famous ramen shop in Düsseldorf, Takumi rode its incredible success down the Rhine to Cologne. It has opened up a few different ramen shops in the Domstadt, including their latest outpost Takumi Ramen Chicken & Vegan. While beloved staples still adorn the menu, I was impressed by the number of new options, especially the vegan options. Like all their locations, aged noodles are really the star of the show at Takumi. I had never eaten aged ramen noodles before, but they make a massive difference in the flavor. The noodles pack a punch and the texture is perfect.
Daikan Izakaya Bar — Maastrichter Str. 9
Offering a range of beloved Japanese dishes, Daikan is an upscale spot in the heart of the Belgian Quarter. I would describe the food as modern Japanese fusion, because there are a lot of unique combinations and ingredients you wouldn’t find on a traditional Izakaya menu, such as corn or green beans. What Daikan really excels at is quality. The flavors are clean and crisp. It doesn’t hurt that the inside of the restaurant is super stylish to boot! On a sunny day, there is a quiet courtyard outback for alfresco dining.
Akemi Sushi — Bonner Str. 19
For affordable, high quality sushi in Südstadt, Akemi Sushi is my go-to spot. Plus, they’ve got takeout! The small restaurant is only a few minutes walk from Chlödwigplatz on the busy Bonnerstraße, and you usually don’t need to make a reservation. I typically order one of the mixed sushi platters, because they are priced well and it gives you a good selection of different fish and styles.
Tokyo Ramen Takeichi — Friesenstraße 57
Also imported Düsseldorf, Tokyo Ramen specializes in chicken based ramen broths. Feet to the flame, I would probably say this is my favorite ramen in Düsseldorf, so needless to say, I was excited when they opened up a new branch in Cologne. The portion sizes here are slightly smaller, but it doesn’t compromise the filling nature of a hot bowl of ramen. Toppings and noodles at Tokyo Ramen are simple and unassuming, which further highlights the incredible flavor of the rich chicken broth. It is meaty and full of umami flavor. Truly delicious.
Thai & Vietnamese
Buriram Thai — Schafenstraße 63
I was told about Buriram Thai by a friend who is originally from Chiang Mai. She says this is the best (and most authentic) Thai food in all of Cologne – and I have to agree. When you step into the restaurant off of bustling Schafenstraße, it feels like you’ve been transported to Thailand. There are floor tables, rattan paneled walls and even a real tuktuk! Dishes are cooked to Thai standards, and the flavors are spicy. From curries to stir fry, there isn’t a bad dish on the menu. Order whatever you’re in the mood for, and you won’t be disappointed.
Hanoi September — Aachener Str. 19
Enjoy a modern take on Vietnamese street food at Hanoi September. Housed in a beautiful space with a nice ambiance on Aachenerstraße, I like the aesthetic here. The menu is manageable without offering too many things. I quite enjoy the different sandwiches, such as the vegan bahn mi, as well as the fried snacks here. There is also a surprisingly good wine list!
Chum Chay – Friesenwall 29
This contemporary Vietnamese restaurant is such a gem. I am obsessed with their curries, especially the yellow curry! Tucked into a quiet square in the heart of Neumarkt-Viertel, Chum Chay’s menu is entirely vegetarian. But trust me, you will not miss the meat. Dishes are prepared with traditional flavors and ingredients but in contemporary ways. Fresh salads and summer rolls are a perfect way to start. If it is your first visit, I strongly recommend ordering one of the curries. The staff at Chum Chuy are friendly and attentive, and the restaurant’s contemporary design makes it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.
Udum Vegan – Am Rinkenpfuhl 55
Located in a stylish space near Rudolfplatz, this 100% vegan Asian restaurant is legit. It is one of my go-to spots if I’m not in the mood to cook. It is just straight up good Asian food. If it wasn’t plastered all over the menu, you might not even realize the food is all vegan here. Offering a variety of east and north Asian cuisine, I was really impressed by the assortment of dishes at Udum. From pho to sushi to fried treats and curries, you can’t go wrong with this plant-based menu – you’re guaranteed to find something delicious!
Viet Village — Hohenstaufenring 14
This local restaurant chain is easily recognizable by its over-the-top but loveable décor. Hanging baskets adorn the ceilings and windows, trailing plants drape throughout and gilded statues all give you the feeling that you are on a luxurious Vietnamese vacation–right in the heart of Cologne. The menu at Viet Village is massive, and it can be overwhelming. From curry and rice noodles to salad and summer rolls, you can find any southeast Asian cuisine your heart desires. The prices are reasonable and the service is quick.