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Temple of fine dining.

Byline: a stir - de Sam beer By Lewis Arnold FOOD REVIEW

BUDDHA LOUNGE Front Street, Tynemouth www.buddhatynemouth.co.uk Food: Service: Ambiance: Overall: THE latest destination venue in Tynemouth's booming bar and restaurant scene is Buddha Lounge - a high end Asian fusion eatery which opened on Front Street in September.

Buddha Lounge offers something new to eating out in the area - an inauspicious facade hides a sumptuous and contemporary Asianthemed interior that is dark, bold and lavish. It's apparent much thought and expense has gone into creating a cool and distinctive environment for diners.

A huge statue of Buddha, red neon and a multitude of mirrors could be a tad brash, yet the Asian styling works very well to create a cool and interesting ambiance. The moody lighting and clubby soundtrack swirl with the decor to create an atmosphere of downtown Tokyo, even on a wet Wednesday in Tynemouth.

The restaurant is already causing a stir - de rigeur Grammy and Brit winner, Sam Smith, he of the latest Bond film REVIEW FOOD theme song fame, chose Buddha Lounge to entertain family during a recent break in the North East.

By Lewis The menu is a departure too, an ambitious mix of Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes, with the option of tapas-style dining. On our visit, the restaurant was busy and it took a little while to be seated, so we opted for an exquisite chardonnay (large, PS5.80) and a Beer Lao (PS3.50) - a clean and crisp 5% rice beer that is highly recommended for Asian cuisine.

Buddha Lounge has a classy drinks offer, with imported beers, a top-notch wine list and an array of cocktails from their in-house mixologist, which are often based on the classics with an added Asian twist.

To start, we chose the chilli salt squid (PS6), which came in a ridiculously large serving, cooked well but extremely heavy on the chilli. After several trips to various parts of the Asian continent, however, your reviewer is a fan of the higher end of the Scoville scale, so no problem here but perhaps unexpectedly spicy for some as a starter.

We also ordered sesame baked asparagus (PS4) which, in complete contrast to the squid, came in a meagre portion of three spears baked in foil with a very slight sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Our asparagus-induced disappointment was chased away by the shiitake mushroom and vegetable rolls (PS6), which were a triumph. The rich, smoky flavour of the shiitake and crisp vegetables combined amazingly inside the perfectly crunchy rice flour rolls.

A huge fan of seafood, your reviewer was eager to try the sushi platter for two (PS16) as a main course. Sushi seems like an easy dish, essentially fish and rice, but perfect sushi demands absolutely the best fish possible and expertly cooked sticky rice. The rice was done well and the salmon and tuna all cut and presented nicely and served at the right temperature. The scallop, however, was not fresh enough to use in sushi and let the dish down.

We also chose the fillet of beef teriyaki (PS17), not strictly speaking Asian and, like the California Roll, this dish was likely cooked up by a clever chef in America hoping to attract more American custom.

The beauty of beef teriyaki is in its simplicity - the ingredients are simple, and preparation is even simpler. The Buddha Lounge version adheres to this premise although, for our taste, a quicker sear would've been preferable.

The service we received was mixed. Some staff were expert, attentive but not intrusive, polite, enthusiastic and knowledgeable of the menu, but this high standard highlighted those who were not.

Obviously, Buddha Lounge is new and hopefully the inexperienced staff employed will improve quickly, as their knowledge and confidence grow.

If the team get it right, the opulent, atmospheric vibe and eclectic menu will position Buddha Lounge as a real destination restaurant for lovers of modern Asian cuisine.

CAPTION(S):

Buddha Lounge's sumptuous interior

Inside the Buddha Lounge, which has |recently opened in Tynemouth

Salt and |Chilli Squid
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 28, 2015
Words:677
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