Our guest blogger Laura was invited to try some Asian fusion cuisine at Fat Buddha. Be prepared for a mouth-watering review.
Over the past few years, there’s been an increasing number of Asian restaurants popping up around Newcastle, many of which we’ve been tempted by, but simply haven’t had the time to try. One such restaurant is Fat Buddha on Pilgrim Street, specializing in Asian fusion cuisine, so we were delighted to be invited to sample what gastronomic delights they had to offer.
The Fat Buddha is decorated in a trendy, contemporary style, punctuated with oriental touches, like the traditional Chinese lanterns and patterned screens. We were seated in the upstairs dining area, which features a number of booths and low lighting that provides an intimate dining experience, whilst the impressive high vaulted ceiling crowning the restaurant creates an airy feel that stops it from being claustrophobic.
One of the great things about the Fat Buddha menu is that rather than focusing on dishes from one particular Asian country, it offers main dishes from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand, so you can sample dishes from all these different places under one roof. In addition there’s a large selection of ‘Soups & Salads’ and ‘Asian Tapas’, comprising of dishes such as Dim Sum and Crispy Duck, which you can order as starters or to be shared as tapas dishes.
To start, we had the Dragon Tail Ribs which were grilled and coated with a deliciously sticky honey and plum glaze and Crispy Filo King Prawns served with a punchy homemade sweet and chilli sauce. We were impressed with the generous portion of ribs, which could have easily served as a main. Rather than the individual ribs we were expecting they came out as a mini rack to be carved up yourself. The meat was so tender that it would simply fall apart in your mouth, and to quote a well-known purveyor of southern-fried chicken, they were ‘finger lickin’ good’! The prawns rather than wrapped in sheets of filo, were coated in delicate strands of it, which were crispy and crumbled as you bit into them, revealing the juicy prawns inside.
For our mains we chose the Chinese Roasted Duck from the ‘China’ menu and also followed one of our friendly and helpful waitress’s recommendations of the Pan-fried Rib-eye Steak Rolls with Asparagus from the ‘Hong Kong’ menu, which we were informed was one of their most popular dishes. The duck was richly flavoured with Chinese spicing and served with roasted peanuts, and was on par with any roasted duck you might order at a Chinese restaurant. The beef dish consisted of asparagus stalks wrapped in slices of succulent rib-eye steak, accompanied by a black pepper sauce, which sizzled on the hot plate the beef was served on as it was poured on separately by the waiter at the table. The rich sauce was similar to the peppercorn sauce you would have with steaks and provided the right amount of heat without being overly spicy. It is easy to see how this dish has become a Fat Buddha favourite. We had sides of egg fried rice to go with these mains but if ordering dishes such as these we would perhaps recommend also getting a side of veg, such as their wok-fried asian pak choi.
These dishes whilst clearly showing their Asian influences and spicing, are cooked and presented with a modern and fresh approach that sets it apart from more traditional Asian restaurants in the city and definitely caters more to the Western palette – there are no strange or challenging dishes that you might find in traditional Asian restaurants, that might put some people off who are not as familiar with this type of cuisine.
Although stuffed, we couldn’t resist trying out a couple of desserts before we left. The Bitter Chocolate Truffle is a cream mousse made from dark Belgian chocolate, set on a chocolate sponge and was suitably rich and decadent, whilst the Thai Caramelised Banana served with caramel sauce and a scoop of ice cream was a lighter and refreshing option to perfectly finish off the meal.
Fat Buddha is a great place to dine for those who want to sample Asian cuisine with a modern twist in a stylishly chic environment, and with the ground floor bar, it makes it the perfect venue for a trendy night out of food and drinks!