Not enough venues take advantage of the views in our city by the sea.
Though the arrival of this Asian restaurant to Seaburn may have met with concern at the planning stage, the Fat Buddha’s blossomed into a bustling beach front hot spot.
I’ve visited a few times since this North East chain opened its second Sunderland site (it had a little sister in Fulwell, briefly), but I’ve never been able to bag a seat with a view at its tables for two which hug the panoramic windows.
But, fifth time lucky: this time I had one of the best seats in the house.
My date was late, she’s always late, which gave me time to take in the sight of the tide lapping at the beach whilst sunset dog walkers and their lolloping pets took advantage of the day’s final hour of spring sunshine.
You’ll be hard-pushed to find a better restaurant view in Sunderland and it more than compensated for looking like I’d been stood up.
The interior’s not half bad either. A central walkway with chainmail curtains echoes the catwalk of the Durham branch whilst wooden fretwork, bamboo green hues and eponymous buddhas reflect the menu which offers a taste of the Orient.
The latter doesn’t have the same wow factor as the view but it offers a decent range of foods with a pick ‘n’ mix of Oriental favourites, such as the obligatory Thai green curry, Chinese roasted duck and Malaysian curries. There’s also a better choice than most for vegetarians and people with gluten-free and other dietary requirements.
On previous visits, the food has been a bit of a hit and miss affair, either great or a damp squib.
It seemed improved this time. Maybe I made a better choice or maybe the buddha has upped his culinary game - either way I wasn’t complaining.
I chose the chicken and sweetcorn soup to start. At £3.90 it’s a little pricier than I’ve had it elsewhere, but it came packed with more tender chicken than your average soup.
For mains I chose the prawn salad. Yes, a salad. I was playing it safe after a weekend of over-indulgence.
I got plenty for my £7.95: a deep bowl of greens and pomelo punctuated with plump prawns, which were given a tangy edge with a chilli and coriander dressing.
An extra kick was provided by our shared sides of salt and chilli chips which left our mouths tingling with pleasure. They’re not cheap as chips at £3.95, but, trust me, they’re worth it. Just make sure you have plenty of water to glug back.
Service was attentive and swift and the ambience managed to be beachfront chilled whilst still feeling special enough for a night out.
We didn’t want to leave, and we didn’t, working our way through the drinks menu which offers beers from as afield as Laos, as well as a large range of cocktails and wines.
As the night drew on there was a real buzz about Fat Buddha which was chock-a-block with diners and drinkers.
We all like to be beside the seaside, it seems.