I’m a biiiiig fan of Asian food. I’ve done my bit of travelling through South East Asia, and the flavours I tasted throughout my trip sometimes pop up in my memory, leaving a need to sample them ASAP. I’ve been to some pretty impressive restaurants serving Asian cuisine, but none have left such a big impact as Buddha Lounge, Tynemouth.
Something of a newbie on the Tynemouth foodie circuit, this flamboyantly decorated restaurant boasts a good selection of dishes from across Thailand, Vietnam, China and Japan, to name just the biggies.
The venue is beautiful (I’m told it was Lorelei previously, and even a Sam Jacks back in the day!) inside, with huge buddha statues, Japanese maple trees illuminated with fairy lights and a vibe that wouldn’t seem out of place in a James Bond movie.
We were seated and offered cocktails (it was midweek, but sod it!) from their carefully curated cocktail menu. I chose the Thai High Tea (£9) and my boyfriend went for the Singapore Sling 100 (£8.50), both very pleasing to the eye and even more pleasing to the palate.
Mine was served in a clear teacup and saucer, with a smooth egg-white foam on top, prosecco, passion fruit liqueur and the unmistakable flavour of iced black Chinese tea. Very refreshing and worth the price tag as a little treat!
The thing I enjoyed most about the menu at Buddha Lounge was the Asian tapas selection. There is SO much to choose from (not too much, mind!) and after a bit of advice from our lovely waitress, we decided to just go for it and pick a good selection.
So, we went for the Hot and Sour Soup, Chilli Salt Squid, Crispy Duck Spring Rolls, Steamed Prawn Dumplings, followed by Singapore Vermicelli and Crispy Szechuan Beef with sticky rice for main. Obviously, we were sharing everything, and there was more than enough for both of us.
I don’t normally do reviews in this way, but to give Buddha Lounge due credit, I’m going to tell you about each dish separately, so each gets it’s deserved 5 minutes of fame. So, without further ado…
Hot and Sour Soup – £5: I was expecting a little bowl, but what actually arrived was a huge vat of spicy, piping hot soup, filled with fresh veg and noodles. This was so warming, especially since we’d been subject to sub-zero temperatures outside!
This is potentially more than I wanted of the stuff, as Hot and Sour soup can be a little overpowering after a while, but the flavour of this one can’t be argued with and the texture was a bit thicker than I’ve had previously, making for a very moreish soup. Safe to say I understood why it was a fiver!
Chilli Salt Squid – £6.50: This was the star of the whole show and potentially the best (BIG STATEMENT ALERT!) Chilli Squid I have enjoyed in quite some time. Crispy but light, fiery but not overpowering, the batter was perfection and the squid beneath was cooked perfectly.
My only complaint is that we didn’t have more of it, and I’ll definitely be ordering my own plate on our next visit! The other beauty of these babies is that they’re gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy them, regardless of dietary requirements. Score!
Crispy Duck Spring Rolls – £6.50: The duck and veg in these little beauties were so fresh, encased in a light and crispy (and most importantly, grease-free!) pastry, which kind of restored my faith in spring rolls a bit. We were served four chunky spring rolls with a hoi-sin dipping sauce, and again, I was only left wanting more, which is really the biggest compliment I can give.
Another one that I’ll definitely be ordering again as the quality of the duck and freshness of the veg was fantastic.
Steamed Prawn Dumplings (Har Gow) – £6: Beautiful, fresh dim sum is one of my greatest joys in life. If I see dim sum on the menu, it’s a given that I’m ordering it.
I have to say – these four dollops of deliciousness were as good as dumplings I enjoyed at famous Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan, one of London’s most exclusive spots. A bold claim, perhaps, but I thoroughly enjoyed them, and the hot Szechuan-style dipping sauce was obscenely addictive, tingling the tastebuds and numbing the lips at the same time.
My only criticism here is that for £6, you’d expect 6 dumplings really rather than 4, but I can’t fault anything else.
Singapore Vermicelli – £10: Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, I was brought out a bowl packed with delicious, fresh vermicelli. With layers of fresh seafood, chicken and pork, as well as loads of veg and bean sprouts, this dish had a light-medium spice and I wish I had more room to eat all of it, because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s leaving delicious food.
I was told this was one of Buddha Lounge’s ‘best-sellers’, and I can understand why, however on my next visit I think I’ll be going for the fillet of beef teriyaki or the delicious-sounding lemongrass steamed sea bass. See what I mean about there being too much choice?!
Szechuan Crispy Beef with Sticky Rice – £16: Served on a sizzling pan and well covered in delicious, sticky Szechuan sauce (not as spicy and hot as expected!), the beef was perfectly cooked and served with sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf – a nice touch.
There was definitely more beef than rice, which is fine, however it would be nice for this to be better balanced so you don’t just have to eat the beef and sauce.
This dish is definitely worth the £16 (which actually seems quite reasonable now I know how good it was!) thanks to the amazing flavours and sheer quantity, but I’d advise you to go easy on the starters if you plan on tackling the full thing!
One thing’s for sure, there was absolutely no chance that we’d be going for dessert after all of that, but since I’m such a huge fan of savoury, that was no big deal. Combined with awesome food, a lovely venue (with even the odd Hush geisha print on the wall, for all you art fans!) and delicious cocktails, this place has real staying power and I’ll absolutely be going back.
What’s really great is that, despite Tynemouth’s food scene continuing to grow, I can see Buddha Lounge becoming one of the favourites, for locals and visitors alike.
Service is informed but not pushy and there’s an overall friendly, relaxed, cosy vibe that I’ve not enjoyed at an Asian restaurant for a while. Decor is often stark and simplistic, but this place is all out glamour.
So next time you take a trip to Tynemouth and are keen for something to eat other than fish and chips, take a little walk up Front Street and get yourself into Buddha Lounge. If you love Asian cuisine as much as I do, you’ll not be disappointed!
You can find Buddha Lounge at 76 Front Street, Tynemouth, NE30 4BP. I’d recommend booking, as it was quite busy when we visited at this was on a Wednesday evening! Call 0191 270 8990 to book, and visit their Facebook page for a peek at the menu!