A few years ago, I had the opportunity to study in Japan. There, I was introduced to the diversity of seafood and immediately fell in love with it. During the two years I spent there, I learned more names of sea creatures and seaweed and tried more varieties of fish than I have in my whole life before that.
I’m back in Sofia, Bulgaria now, but fish has stuck as an important part of my diet. I always make sure to try the fish dish on the menu wherever I go.
If you ever find yourself in Sofia, here are my favorite restaurants to enjoy delicious seafood, prepared in four different ways.
While in Japan, I developed a taste for raw fish. I’ve tried a few sushi restaurants in Sofia, but the one I keep going back to is Umami. It’s not just the atmosphere—the place is located in a spacious garden, with the main structure built to resemble a pavilion floating on a lake—but also the quality of the ingredients.
One of my favourite dishes here is salmon tartare. This is a light appetizer of raw freshly chopped salmon meat with seasoning. The plate comes with a splash of spiced mayonnaise, which adds even more flavour. I never forget to get Umami’s special matcha bread for spreading the tartare, too.
A visit to this restaurant is not complete without enjoying the chef’s sushi set—an all-signature sushi rolls platter. With a mix of salmon, tuna, shrimps, crab meat, avocado mousse, mayonnaise, and a special spicy paste, this selection has something for every seafood lover. Some of the rolls are even slightly fried, adding to the diversity of tastes.
Another way to enjoy seafood is with thick tomato sauce and spices. One of the most highly-rated Indian cuisine restaurants in Sofia is Saffron. It might be located a bit far from the city centre, but the ambience of the place transports me even further. With colourful scarves and lamps hanging from the ceiling and shiny metal ornamentations of elephants and Indian deities, I feel like I’m stepping into a different world.
The seafood dish I love the most here is Jhinga masala—prawns in mildly spicy curry sauce. All meals are based on original Indian recipes, and diners can choose the level of spiciness they prefer. I usually take my Jhinga masala with almost no additional spice.
This dish is best paired with a fluffy naan or steamed white rice. On my last visit, I tried fried rice with turmeric and raisins, whose sweetness greatly balanced the richness of the Jhinga masala.
Seafood and pasta? Yes, please! The Old House—Iztok offers original Italian meals to enjoy in the setting of a quaint little restaurant on a small street in Rome, Italy, with its chequered tablecloths and wooden chairs in different colours.
At this restaurant, I’ve tried one of the best tagliatelle pastas in Sofia complete with mussels, prawns, squid, and cherry tomatoes. The pasta has just the right texture—soft, but not overcooked, and the seafood is freshly brought in on the day its served.
If I still have some room left after enjoying this delicious big portion, I always opt for a piece of homemade biscuit cake, generously covered in melted chocolate.
A popular way to prepare fish in Bulgaria is on the grill. Every traditional restaurant serves at least two or three types of grilled fish—mainly mackerel, trout, and carp.
The Old House bears the same name as the previous place, but don’t be mistaken—you’re in for some traditionally Bulgarian gastronomic treat. The place is located on a side street in the relative centre of Sofia, but it attracts a considerable crowd. Most evenings, I need to book a table to enjoy a casual dinner in a homey atmosphere.
My favourite fish dish to order here is the grilled gilthead bream with a fresh green salad on the side. The white fish meat is soft and juicy and combines perfectly with the crunchiness of the cucumbers.
Where do you love to go to enjoy seafood in your area? Share with us in the comments below.
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