Well, that opportunity knocked a few weeks ago when I received an invitation to an intimate media lunch to sample the new lunch options on the Buddha Bar menu that also claimed to have “wallet-friendly” prices. I just returned from the lunch and I am not going to tell you it’s the best meal I’ve ever had, but I am going to tell you that some of the new items on the lunch menu are worth a try. The meal started with an assortment of appetizers including two sushi rolls, a tuna sashimi pizza, and beef satay. I was really impressed with the Mass Roll which consisted of shrimp tempura and avocado topped with spicy tuna and gyoza crisp. The roll was similar to an old favorite but had some unique flare with the topping additions. I also enjoyed the Buddha Bar roll (very clever name), as it was wrapped in cucumber instead of rice which was surprisingly refreshing. Further, I learned that the pizza we were given is served complimentary to guests with salmon during happy hour which I think is always a nice touch and is generally appreciated by the patrons.
One of the things I disliked about Buddha Bar on my first visit was the stuffiness of the menu in that it was not comfortable for a lunchtime meal. And in Washington we know that if someone wants a large portioned meal, there are many steakhouses to choose from that will surely go to the top of the list. Therefore, I was pleased to see that they have made an effort to provide lighter and more accessible options for the mid-afternoon crowd. The menu additions include kobe beef sliders, sea bass tacos, thai beef salad, korean bbq sandwich, and fish and chips. I opted for the koren bbq sandwich and sweet potato fries. It turned out that the sandwich was served as three baby sliders with pickled onions and a soft roll that soaked up the sauce of the beef bbq. It was really delicious with an incredible amount of flavor, but the bbq sauce was quite sweet which made it hard to eat all three. Therefore, I swapped one of my korean bbq sandwiches for one of my fellow diner’s kobe beef sliders so I could really get a sense for the other options. The slider was a bit dry and unexciting, but had some interesting slaw and asian fixin’s on the bun which added some welcomed flavor. The sea bass tacos were also a hit and the sweet potato fries were crispy and delicious.
Finally, we ordered a bunch of desserts for the table that I had the chance to sample. We all were really taken aback by the light and delectable taste of the mango soup. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted and served at room temperature, but really quite enjoyable. And when we asked the chef about the ingredients (expecting it to be rich with cream and other unhealthy ingredients), we found out it is made with mango puree, coconut puree, and simple syrup. I also snagged a bite of the trio of creme brulee’s (vanilla, coffee, and chocolate) and I really enjoyed the coffee.
So, my overall take here is that Buddha Bar did something smart which was come into town and watch and listen to what was working and what wasn’t and make adjustments based on that information. They recognized the need for simpler and more accessible lunch options and they went ahead and added ones that taste pretty good. I’m not saying you should rush over, but I think you should give the lunch options a try.
Buddha Bar DC
455 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001