LIFE’S a catwalk at Fat Buddha where diners have to strut along an illuminated walkway to get to their table.
Okay, the strutting bit is optional, but the uber-cool feature is still the cherry on the cake of this most stylish of Asian restaurants.
I visited with pals Laura and Susan on a Friday night and was warned to book well in advance.
Seats at this restaurant are hot property and, despite ringing to book a week before, we managed to get one of only two slots left.
It’s easy to see why the big man’s so popular.
The decor is sleek, stylish and manages to be both contemporary and quirky – a mixture of chandeliers, fancy lighting, traditional Asian features with a few Fat Buddha namesake figurines thrown in for good measure. All topped off with views of the River Wear.
Fat Buddha has the substance to back up its style with a pretty impressive menu.
There’s a huge range of dishes to choose from which are guaranteed to have you licking your lips in anticipation.
In the end, we decided on the set menu – which was reasonably priced at £23.50 each for three courses.
To start, we had pancakes, duck and hoisin sauce. There was plenty to fill our three rumbling tums with around three pancakes each and a plate laden with succulent duck.
The star of the show, however, was the main courses which we chose to have served with egg fried rice.
The trio of green chicken curry, duck teriyaki and pork kakuni was beautifully presented, a feast for the eyes.
It seemed a shame to demolish the dishes, but it had to be done.
I’m not a curry lover, but this dish went down well with Laura who said it was the perfect blend of creamy, coconut sauce with a kick to it.
The pork was beautifully moist and tender and you got a huge chunk of it for your money, but my favourite was the duck teriyaki.
Not too rich – which duck dishes have a tendency to be – and loaded with flavour, it certainly got the thumbs up from me.
There was little room left for pudding, but as it came as part of the price we felt obliged to order.
A lemon lush pie, chocolate sponge and raspberry passion fruit bomb were soon winging their way to our table.
Again, the presentation was immaculate, especially my pretty fruit bomb. Sadly, after our substantial main meals we struggled to finish the puds, but they were lovely.
The bill was big at £108.30, but wasn’t helped by our drinks of wine and Bellini cocktails.
The set menu was fairly priced, especially considering the quality of the food and the luxurious setting.
However, I begrudged being charged £2.80 for prawn crackers when these are often given for free in other establishments.
Service too was a little slow, especially for drinks, but to give the staff their dues it was a busy Friday night filled with Fat Buddha fans.
After my visit, I’ve become one too.