Posted by Jen Sahi on 28th March 2019.

You feel a certain sense of satisfaction once you’ve made your way past the bouncer at the door of the Buddha Bar, as if you’ve just been granted entry to an exclusive club that mere commoners are not privy to. Elegant hostesses welcome you discreetly and usher you past cozy alcoves and private dining areas, whisking you into the main dining area – a dramatic, crimson-hued room that makes your jaw drop to the floor.

The lighting is dim, the music is hypnotic, and you’re instantly transported into another world evoking memories of old Shanghai. It’s an atmospheric den rich with golds and reds and Chinese artefacts where you dine by candlelight and inhale the ambience.

It’s unclear which makes more of a statement – the 40-foot ceiling, the blood red chandeliers which appear to float in the sky, the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Dubai Marina Walk, or the 2-storey-tall gold Buddha casting a watchful eye over the goings-on.

This popular restaurant/bar/lounge is part Buddha Bar’s global empire – as far reaching as Paris, Tbilisi, Kiev, and even Venezuela – which includes restaurants, hotels and, of course, the music. It’s so popular, in fact, that even on a Sunday night, both the restaurant and bar are buzzing. Nearly every table is taken with everyone from couples, families and larger groups soaking up the experience.

The food is Pan-Asian with a sharing concept and while it’s called Buddha Bar, the majority of guests are actually enjoying the restaurant. Of course, there’s a cost to all this opulence and some of the best main courses (the melt-in-your-mouth Grade 8/9 Grilled Wagyu Striploin, for example) will set you back as much as AED 400.

The Spiced Tuna Tartare with Sriracha, Avocado and Wonton is a twist on the classic tuna tartare, with the addition of Sriracha, avocado and deep-friend wonton skin for a contrasting crunch.

The Soft-Shell Crab in Chinese Bao with Wasabi and Spicy Mayonnaise is Buddha Bar’s Pan-Asian version of the lobster roll. It’s a filling fusion sandwich with a bao less like a typical steamed mantou and more like a brioche.

The Wagyu Beef with Asian Salsa allows the meat to take centre stage. A single fillet of beef is cooked to medium on the robata grill, then served on the table pre-sliced in a grill-like presentation.

The Vegetable Green Curry with Pumpkin, Eggplant, Bok Choy and Fried Tofu is a traditional Thai preparation with a thick, flavourful curry scented with lemongrass and galangal that serves up just the right level of sweetness and heat.

The Matcha Cheesecake is like an Asian-fusion glazed petit four – a plain vanilla cheesecake encased in a thin layer of matcha-flavoured chocolate, served with matcha cream, red beans and raspberry sorbet.

But you don’t just come to Buddha Bar for the food. It’s about the entire experience – it’s a sumptuous destination you visit to eat, to drink, to people-watch, to share secrets, to feel the music, to unwind, and to otherwise be mesmerised.

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