Fat Buddha, Walkergate, Durham
As it’s a purveyor of rich, often heavy, flavours from far flung corners of the globe, Fat Buddha wasn’t the most obvious of choices for lunchtime dining.
I’ve been many times for an evening meal, but the restaurant seems to lose a bit of its sparkle during the day, mostly due to the lack of atmosphere – I’m not used to seeing it not packed to the rafters.
However, the menu more than makes up for it.
The lunchtime version is more concise than its big brother, but it’s still got many of the favourites, at cheaper prices.
It’s split into two sections with Asian tapas starting from £2.80 and all mains priced £5.95. Most of the latter come with rice or chips, which also helps to keep the cost down.
We tucked into the tapas options.
We ordered six between us and could have done with a bigger table as we struggled to fit it all on our two-seater.
The only way to clear some space was to polish off some plates. First to be devoured were the pan-fried Shanghai chicken scallion dumpling.
We got four perfectly-tender dumplings for our £3.20. The chicken and onion were a light blend of flavours, which were intensified by dunking our mouthfuls into a punchy chilli sauce we’d ordered on the side,
The crispy shredded beef salad (£3.80) was another taste sensation and there was more than enough for two, despite it being a tapas portion.
One thing Fat Buddha doesn’t do is scrimp on portion size.
Vegetarians needn’t fret either – there’s plenty of options for them that go beyond vegetable spring rolls.
If I hadn’t been so full of tapas, I would have been sorely tempted by the stir-fried Asian greens with spicy peanut satay sauce.
Little diners can also get in on the action with all kids meals, including ram noodle choices and sweet and sour chicken, priced £2.95.