Mixed Dumplings with Chilli Ponzu

Review: Buddha Bar London

It’s been forever since I last posted a blog…pretty disappointing really given that I’ve been to some truly fantastic places in the last few months. Hopefully the new year will restart my love for food and reignite my love of blogging. Anyway here goes…

Whilst I love food, and eat out a lot..I don’t believe wasting money. So when it comes to fancy restaurants, I tend to leave these to special occasions. Those who follow my blog will remember me mentioning a while back that Buddha Bar was coming back to town. I loved the atmosphere, music and height of the ceiling at the old Buddha Bar, had many an eventful night there and was very sad when it finally closed.

Having witnessed both my sorrow when it closed and my excitement that it was reopening, my best friend decided to surprise me with dinner at Buddha Bar on my Birthday.

Buddha Bar London
Buddha Bar London

We rocked up for an early dinner and were quickly shown to our table. Because it was early and a sunday, it was fairly empty. However the lighting and decadent decor did a fantastic job of making up for the lack of people. I was slightly disappointed by the fact that there wasnt a giant buddha.

We decided to go with the tasting menu so that we could try a number of different dishes without having to think too much. This consisted of three courses, 2 cocktails and tea to end it all.

First to arrive (bought along by our über friendly waiter) was the “New Style Sashimi”. Now for those who aren’t well versed in gourmet lingo, the only thing that makes “new style sashimi” different to…umm..well ill call it “old style sashimi” is the fact that the new stuff tends to be doused in a dressing of some kind. We were served tuna, salmon and slightly seared sea bass in a dressing of ginger and Japanese Yuzu.

New Style Sashimi
New Style Sashimi

I can’t lie, the sashimi, new, old or in the middle was bloody good. It was fresh, flavoursome and melted in your mouth. I quite like the fact that this new stuff has a dressing which substitutes the need for soy sauce and wasabi.

Next in line was the first of the miniature cocktails. Made of pressed apple juice, lemongrass and Yuzu juice – I’m really not doing it any justice at all. It was just sweet enough with a hint of lemongrass that even my best bud, who absolutely despises lemongrass could manage to get through most of his glass.

Next up was the “Mixed Dumplings with chilli ponzu”. According to the menu there were three different dumplings, consisting of smoked duck and foie gras, black cod and prawn and salmon and oregano. Although our lovely waiter (by this point i was slightly suspicious as to why he was so bloody chipper…) did point them out, my best bud was far too excited at the site of dumplings and quickly popped one in his mouth.

Mixed Dumplings with Chilli Ponzu
Mixed Dumplings with Chilli Ponzu

Unfortunately for him, the first one he gobbled up was the smoked duck and foie gras. As you can imagine, the smokey silken texture was dissimilar to any other dumpling he’d had before. I was treated to the same in my second dumpling. It’s fair to say neither of us found it too appealing. The other two dumplings were pleasant, well made but not overly exciting. It’s either that or that the smoked duck and foie gras dumpling simply put us off.

Time for another palette cleanser, this time a Miso Virgin – basically a virgin mary by any other name, with a slight difference. This was good, not quite as refreshing as the last cocktail but good in its own right. Can’t really complain.

Miso Virgin
Miso Virgin

Now that starters were up, it was time for mains. Mr happy bought through a plate of pan-fried grey mullet with herb butter, beef bavette with spicy miso & pickled cucumber and chilli tofu with wild mushroom & sesame.

Pan-fried grey mullet with Asian herb butter Beef bavette with spicy miso & pickled cucumber Chilli tofu with wild mushrooms & sesame
Pan-fried grey mullet with Asian herb butter
Beef bavette with spicy miso & pickled cucumber
Chilli tofu with wild mushrooms & sesame

I tucked into the fish first. This was perfectly cooked, the skin was deliciously crispy but also very subtly flavoured. I could have eaten just this, but obviously with two other parts to the dish i moved on. With buddy across the table umming and aahing over the beef, i decided to see what all the fuss was about. It was perfectly pink with again a very subtle flavour. However i would have liked to have tasted a little more flavour given that the cucumber accompaniment was more of a seasoning and therefore didn’t really enhance the dish in any way. The serving size was rather generous and albeit well cooked, but some kind of dressing or sauce would have been a welcomed addition.

I was least impressed with the tofu which was essentially just very lightly covered in a breadcrumb of some kind mixed with a dash of chilli. It was dry and utterly boring. A real shame given that tofu is ultimately an asian ingredient. The mushrooms it was served with was probably the best thing about the tofu.

Having finished the main part of the meal, I decided I wasn’t quite satisfied, so we ordered one more dish. Namely the vegetarian green curry (i was feeling full of flu and needed something hot and soupy). The dish was rather excitingly presented (see picture below) and was just what I needed. However for budster it was a bit too lemon-grassy. We demolished it anyway.

Last came the dessert. I quickly realised why our waiter had been so happy and chatty….

2013-12-08 21.20.06

Having blown out my candle, I went on to devour the dessert which consisted of pineapple mochi (yum), buddy got green tea, so I switched mine for his, double yum, a mini lime and ginger cheesecake, which was delicious and last was a very rich chocolate, caramel and salted sesame bar. This was slightly hard and maybe a little bit rich but actually set off the flavours from the other two parts of the plate pretty well.

Overall i was fairly impressed by Buddha Bar. Having also had a look through the a la carte menu, id say this is definitely one kept for a special occasion, there was a good selection of sushi, grilled dishes and salads, all of which id like to go back and try. I would point out that as with most of this style of restaurants, it’s not the best place to dine with a vegetarian.

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