I tried being a Buddhist once. It didn't take. Luckily, Buddha Bar doesn't require any such commitment.
I tried being a Buddhist once. It didn't take. Five minutes after deciding to give up wordly desires and trying to constrain powerful emotions, I felt a wordly desire to have a powerful emotion and it was downhill from there.
Luckily, Buddha Bar on the Embankment requires no such philosophical commitment. It does present condundra, however, such as how did they get a gigantic Buddha, only second in size to the statue of Rupert Murdoch in Wapping, through a very small door and down some steepish stairs?
Putting this aside as a matter for minds far wiser, I turned to the menu. I couldn't resist lobster salad, which was generous in the crustacean proportion, while beef tataki with pickled ginger was – if a little too moist – flavoursome in the contrast.
Sushi was elegant, not at all discrediting. The spicier wasabi worked well against what was clearly very fresh fish. As we got to the sushi, the atmosphere in the restaurant, sunken and overlooked by a whole-way balcony with tables for the bar area, got noisy. It's lovely that people enjoy themselves, but don't come to whisper sweet nothings to your beloved: the atmosphere is much more suited for a party.
The skill and taste of Nobu's black cod has somewhat ruined it for me elsewhere, so I thought best not to tempt the gods of Japanese cuisine, instead focussing on Thai market beef, which was curled and tender and spicy but not to excess. It may not quite take one back to Bangkok, but it does a creditable job of evoking it, without the coups and all. My friend had crispy pork belly, which was suitably fatty, providing a soft bite before the meat, without being just lipid.
Due to the kind ministrations of the waiters (and a clear knowledge that I was reviewing), we ended up with four desserts, including the spectacular if bewildering fruit platter, served with dry ice. It was quite 'When shall we three meet again?', especially in the low light of the restaurant.
Buddha may not approve of the indulgence of gastronomy here, but we did.