Buddha-Bar London has long been renowned for its cocktails and fabulous decor. Their Pan-Asian cuisine is exceptional and they’ve won numerous awards including Best Restaurant Bar 2014 and 2015 at the London Club and Bar Awards. Every Thursday from 9 pm, they welcome the very best performers for a glamorous evening, 1001 Nights, with a delicious dinner and live music. In fact Buddha-Bar have a long track record with regards to great music, regularly releasing lounge compilations and I own one that still gets a regular airing at dinner parties.
When the first Buddha-bar opened in Paris in 1996, thanks to the vision of founder Raymond Visan, it stood out with its spectacular interiors and gourmet food. These days, there are Buddha-Bars in Dubai, Beirut, Jakarta, Marrakech, Washington, Monte Carlo, Cairo, Prague, Kiev, Mexico City, Moscow Sao Paolo and Manila. What they all have in common is a giant statue of Buddha, imparting a zen-like tranquility to each restaurant. The London outpost is located in a prime position on the high street in upmarket Knightsbridge.
As soon as you enter, you’re transported to another world where exoticism reigns supreme. From the intricate wooden carvings to the golden Buddha, it’s a real oasis of calm. There’s a large events space downstairs and dining split over two floors. Check out the crystallized dragons in the stairwell and the levitating Buddha made from one piece of sheet metal, they’re quite something!
I was looking forward to experiencing 1001 Nights, a heady combination of singing and belly dancing…First though, I enjoyed a drink at the bar where I was met by the lovely Mina. The bar tender was a great character. He asked us for our cocktail preferences and rustled up two Bubble Wap drinks for us, a fantastic combination of strawberry & raspberry purée, rose liquor, elderflower liquor, with a touch of Belvedere vodka and topped up with Champagne.
He told us that the London restaurant is particularly known for its experimental drinks. We soon realized why as we were treated to a real mixology performance! In fact Buddha-Bar regularly hosts mixology classes where you can learn some of the tricks of the trade.
We also sampled some tasty dim sum including perfectly steamed seafood dumplings and crispy prawn tempura with a spicy sauce.
Now it was time to head downstairs for the evening’s entertainment…
We took our seats at one of the cosy tables, and soaked up the atmosphere. It was a full house, with everyone enjoying the band who were great singers.
The helpful sommelier recommended a Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2015. ‘Cordon Cut’ is the rare practice of cutting the canes, allowing grapes to develop naturally on the vine. It results in a high concentration of sugar and flavour. I always think you can’t go wrong with Riesling and this one had wonderful notes of pear, spice and lemon with a bright gold hue.
We tried a selection of dishes – starting with some delectable salmon and avocado maki rolls…
And one of the food stars of the show, spicy tuna tartare. You just can’t fault the presentation and it tasted equally amazing, with very fresh and delicately flavoured tuna .
Next we devoured a succulent roasted black cod in a lemongrass miso sauce…
At this point, the belly dancers made their appearance. It was great fun and all in the best possible taste. Members of the public were very respectful and we chuckled as one dancer enveloped a willing diner with one of her shawls!
Our next dish, the grilled rack of lamb was a real success. With a coconut crust and served with fennel salad, it had been beautifully cooked and was clearly of very high quality. We also enjoyed some healthy edamame beans, enlivened with a spicy sauce.
Whilst some of the diners were up dancing at this point, my belly dancing skills leave something to be desired so I stayed firmly in my seat. Perhaps they should lay on belly dancing classes too 😉
We finished our feast with a superb trio of crème brûlée with pineapple wonton. It’s hard to say which one was my favourite but chocolate is always a winner.
And we washed down the creme brulée with a sip of fragrant fruit sake. I can’t speak highly enough of Buddha-Bar, in terms of cuisine, decor and entertainment. Just make sure to book your table in advance as it’s very much in demand!
Buddha-Bar London, 145 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PA