Review: Buddha-Bar, a Dubai institution that keeps getting better
17 years after opening, Buddha-Bar still has the magic formula to keep bringing guests back…
When Buddha-Bar opened its doors in Dubai in 2005, the city was entirely different. Options were limited, the population a fraction of what it is now, and only a small handful of international names had washed up on Dubai’s shores. Fast forward 17 years, and Buddha-Bar is still welcoming guests to its impressive Grosvenor House on the edge of Dubai Marina. But how does it compare now there’s so much competition for pan-Asian flavours in the city?
Walking into the looming triple-height restaurant is an experience in itself: the large glass window framed by crimson red drapes allows guests to admire the pretty Dubai Marina setting, a DJ front and centre is already spinning tracks that are lively but not overbearing, and right in the middle of the restaurant a huge gold Buddha takes centre stage. We’re among the first guests to arrive in the restaurant for a mid-week 7pm seating, but groups are already gathered at the long curvaceous bar which runs down almost the entirety of a wall, backed by grand gold dragons.
@whatsondubai No matter what the occasion, Buddha-Bar is always an exceptional night out #whatsondubai #dubairestaurants #buddhabar #thingstododubai #dubaimarina #mydubai ♬ hey mr dj – blacksupremacy
Buddha-Bar can be credited with putting pan-Asian dishes on the map in Dubai, and while many have since followed suit, it remains home to one of the most impressive menus in the city. We begin with a sushi course, and a neat plate of seabass and salmon sashimi plus maki rolls of fresh avocado and spicy maguro goes down a treat. It’s paired with a flavourful chicken salad and spicy tuna tartare, the latter of which is a textural mix of soft diced tuna is mixed with crunchy spring onion and crispy wonton.
From the hot starters, fresh vegetable spring rolls are eternal crowd-pleasers, as is the crispy fried calamari, which we dunk with gusto into a sweet tamarind sauce.
Stuck for what to order for mains? The Singaporean chili prawns are a warming bowl of juicy tiger prawns cooked in an aromatic chili sambal with crunchy baby bok choi, flavoured with notes of ginger, garlic and coriander that rise from the fragrant bowl. A wok seared Cantonese beef is a little on the well done side, but we put this down to personal preference and still enjoy the sticky bbq glaze.
Desserts are an excuse for Buddha Bar to really show off, with all of their finest sweet signatures served dramatically on dry ice: perfectly spherical balls of mochi, a moreish chocolate fondant and a mango pudding with zesty yuzu curd have us wishing we’d worn stretchier trousers.
As we’re finishing dessert we become aware that every table around us is now taken, buzzing with animated chatter and laughter. We’re also struck by how despite arriving at 7pm, our evening has spilled into the late seating, and it’s many hours since we arrived. It’s safe to say the Buddha-Bar effect is still as present 17 years on.
Buddha-Bar Dubai, Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, 7pm to 1am Sun to Thurs, 7pm to 2am Fri, 1.30pm to 4.30pm and 7pm to 2am Sat. Tel: (0)4 317 6000, buddhabar-dubai.com