Published on May 18th, 2015 | by Gavin0
Buddha Bar, Knightsbridge
Summary: "For a tree to grow tall it must have strong roots” but judging by the popularity of Buddha Bar, it would seem all the tree actually needs is a celebrity following and a good marketing team
Cars, celebrities, and camera flashes- welcome to the world of Buddha Bar, Knightsbridge’s most popular hangout for those that want to be seen. But it’s not just about cocktail dresses and VIPs; it also happens to have a very respectable Pan Asian restaurant as we recently found out.
Buddha Bar has been a staple of the West London scene since 2012, and is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious bar/restaurants outside of Mayfair. The London site is part of a much larger multinational chain with Buddha Bars strategically dotted around the richest cities in the world including Monte Carlo, New York, Manila and Dubai. The stunning, low lit venue boasts over 300 covers, Zen (read cheesy) décor and a menu that fuses cuisine from East Asia.
I arrive on a Friday evening and as expected the place is heaving with glamorous women and platinum card wielding gentlemen. Service is a well oiled machine; after I give my name to the statuesque receptionist, she speaks into an earpiece and a member of the waiting staff magically appears to show us to our seat. I get the feeling that anything that are short of perfection is seen as failure.
Buddha Bar describe their food as having influences from China, Japan, and Thailand and when I get the menu I can understand why. It reads like a book with page upon page of sushi, sashimi, and tempura; it’s literally three restaurants in one.
The maki rolls seem to be the house speciality and certainly don’t disappoint. The Dragon rolls (£20) with unagi and avocado are fresh, full of flavour, and work extremely well with wasabi.
My favourite though was the crab and prawn tempura sushi with spicy mango sauce (£21.50). The fusion of sushi lathered in exotic fruit is brilliant and my dining partner and I can’t get enough of it. Much of the menu is available at Buddha Bar locations worldwide but this London exclusive showcases what local talent can do- it’s a pity that so little of the menu works this way.
If raw fish doesn’t float your boat then give the beef satay (£9) a try; a little dry on its own but a zesty chilli relish gives it a much needed boost.
Despite recommendation by staff to order the tempura ‘rock shrimp style’ prawns with spicy sauce (£15.50), I found them to be too oily. The popcorn chicken style tempura prawns sat heavy on the stomach and were a little sickly after a while.
The perfect remedy is the five spiced barbequed chicken (£19.50) with teriyaki sauce and shiitake mushrooms for mains. A fusion of Japanese and Thai, the chicken has been subtly seasoned and my sweet tooth is attracted to the teriyaki sauce- it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular choices on the menu.
For dessert the chocolate fondant (£8.50) is a safe bet, although there are more extravagant options such as pandan pudding (£8.50) or lime and ginger cheesecake with pineapple salsa (£8.50). Unfortunately the cheesecake had run out so I went for the fondant, which was just how chocolate fondant should be, gooey and indulgent. However it was let down by the freezer burnt green tea ice cream that accompanied it.
To describe a restaurant as Pan Asian is a bit vague and I suppose this is a fair reflection of Buddha Bar. Much of the London restaurant scene has moved away from this in favour of concentrated dining experiences, and by attempting to cater to everyone, the restaurant has no identity on which to work from. The old Chinese proverb goes “for a tree to grow tall it must have strong roots” but judging by the popularity of Buddha Bar, it would seem all the tree actually needs is a celebrity following and a good marketing team.
Buddha Bar, 145 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7PAShare This Post