Los Angeles, CA(Spiritsman)6/19/13/–Buddha’s Belly in Los Angeles has recently announced a chef change, with Kevin Luzande now taking over at the popular Beverly Blvd location. He has paid his dues in various kitchens around town, working under Troy Thompson at the Ritz Carlton and Kress, and more recently at Playa restaurant. He has trimmed the menu from eighty to forty items covering the Asian countries of Thailand, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The family style Pan-Asian restaurant gets pretty busy in the early evening hours, so maybe a later visit in the evening would be a better option. Some of the old regulars who have been coming to the restaurant since 2003 have balked at some of the changes, but Luzande is undeterred, and determined to stamp his style on the kitchen that he feels had started to get lazy and complacent.
All kinds of promotions have been concocted by the chef and owner such as Friday night Fish fry with red snapper with a Thai dipping sauce., Asian paella takes center stage on Saturdays with lobster, mussels and shrimp, and on Sundays it is Yakitori skewers night with beef, chicken, shrimp and asparagus.
From the revised menu the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($9) is a must choice, beautiful flavors from the thai basil, blue corn and yuzu. Another absolute choice has to be the Curry Chicken Volcano appetizer ($10) on a crispy rice cake, spicy and with a real kick.
Possibly one of the best dishes tried was the Bulgogi Ban Chan ($18), and since I am not ashamed to admit that I am totally unfamiliar with Korean food, a bit of a revelation. It is Korean rib-eye served with sides of kimchi, gochujang, seaweed salad and steamed rice buns.
Congratulations to Luzande for pulling this off, and make sure you try it when you go. Sticking with the Korean theme, the Quinoa Salad ($9) was an interesting combination of long bean, nori, garlic stem, shitake, tofu and gotchujang that you mixed up yourself in a bowl that was relatively simple but quite delicious.
He has also expanded the dim sum menu to include Veggie Dumplings, Spinach Dumpling, Chicken Bao and Pork Shumai. When it comes to soups tried the Spicy Korean Ramen that was creamy, spicy and salty and the Pad Thai ($11) served in a very traditional style. There are plenty of other mouth watering goodies on the menu, that even the most jaded of Asian food fanatics will find interesting, although if noodles is your thing, then maybe not.
Beer of choice to go with this food was Sapporo Lager, an almost blonde Japanese Beer, and there is alo a decent selection of Sake on the menu served either hot or cold. The wine list is very limited
The new Buddha’s Lounge adjacent to the dining area has a happy hour from Sunday-Thursday 6-10 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 6-11.30 pm serving lower alcohol content drinks. All the Spirits are infused and cost just $6 for a shot neat or chilled, and cocktails are priced at $8, meaning you can drink more thanks to the price and 25% alcohol content.
Buddha’s Belly-7475 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
Valet Parking $6 although easy street parking
Other location-Santa Monica 310-458-2500
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211