A week before my birthday, I was looking for cool restaurants to try where I’d treat my family and boyfriend. After seeing pictures and snippets of reviews online, it was not long when I have decided to go for Buddha-Bar Manila. I booked for a reservation immediately and mentally prepared to be transported in a world of luxury and sophistication even for a day. 😀 Obviously, excitement filled me in!

I have first heard about Buddha-Bar Manila when it opened in 2012. And perhaps like me, you would ask, “Why is this bar called Buddha-Bar?” Whoa. I mean there are so many names you can attach to a bar, so why use Buddha? In any case, I think the owner has done a great job with the branding since it foremost captures quick attention and piques the curiosity of people.

For the record, Buddha-Bar is not a house of prayers or a place for spiritual congregation like a church but a bar-restaurant located at Picar Place on Kalayaan Avenue in Makati (just beside Century City Mall). Buddha-Bar is now found in 25 countries and key cities around world, including London, Moscow, Budapest, Paris, Kiev, Prague, St. Peterburg and Cairo. Offering a fully original dining experience, Buddha-Bar Manila’s food courses are made with an artful blend of unique taste and choicest ingredients.

Review of Buddha-Bar Manila (Poblacion, Makati City)

Ambiance: ★★★

Wearing sandos, slippers and shorts is prohibited, and Buddha-Bar reserves its right to refuse customers going in when they are not in proper attire. This place deserves the credit to have well-dressed and presentable guests because the interior design screams elegance and sophistication.

Upon entering, you will be welcomed with the sight of a giant Buddha monument sitting on a throne. Right beside is the bar mezzanine, fitted with 18th century style wrought-iron balustrades, and this I guess is where you’ll have the chance to rub elbows with college students, cops, and perhaps a local celebrity over strong drinks.

Flights of stairs and an elevator are available and accessible for customers to move about on the four floors of the building. The dining areas are set with rich mahogany furniture, sofa sets with luxurious fabrics, amber-colored lighting, Chinese and Japanese art objects, Khmer statues, decorated wood panels, and Portuguese mosaics all come together to create an opulent and refined décor. There’s funk, improvisation, and lush colors of red and gold on every corner.

Generally, the venue takes on a party atmosphere. However, since we visited Buddha-Bar Manila during lunch time on a Saturday, there were lots of empty tables. Music was out and the atmosphere was pretty quiet. For a moment, I felt like we were stepping into another time and place for a relaxing get…away. Air-conditioning was a bit off, but I’m sure it would be different once the sun is out.

Service: ★★★

The staffs were eloquent and friendly without obstructing privacy. The food we ordered came fast considering that they were prepared intricately. Customer service here was great in a way that it made me feel like we were treated with care, like we were invited to visit the home of a very rich friend.

Food: ★★★

For Buddha-Bar’s food, I have set my expectations up high. Since food prices here are known to be expensive, the quality and taste of food must match the rate. I knew I chose this restaurant not only for its lovely ambiance but also (mostly) for its food. Its website indicates that “The Buddha-Bar menu offers a selection of Pacific Rim cuisine dishes, a masterful blend of fine ingredients and spices where Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other East Asian flavors combine subtly with a zest of the West.”

Tuna shone in Crazy Spicy Tuna Maki (PhP 190, 4 pieces) and it was shamelessly delicious! My taste buds were happy to meet a flavor bomb of piping hot tuna tucked in Japanese sushi rice. From the top down, the soy sauce with wasabi soaked in.

Another maki we tried was the gentle-tasting Pink Lady Maki (PhP 230, 4 pieces), which became our instant favorite. This monster roll was made with crispy tempura inside, seaweed salad and fresh salmon on top. If it were present at a tailgating bash or cocktail party, I will gladly devour it at either one.

Delivering a substantial mouthful of cajun spice and oils, the Cajun Style Tuna Sashimi (PhP 470, 6 pieces) was the priciest among the bunch of Japanese food we had that day. It is one of the new dishes on the Buddha-Bar Manila’s menu, and it appeared as a healthy but no less yummy invention designed to showcase the restaurant’s fusion fare.

Crisp and fragrant spring rolls may be considered as one of the best appetizers to an Asian meal. Comparing the tastes of the makis and sashimi, we thought these fried rolls were more muted but in a good way. The freshness of the vegetable fillings in the Vegetable Spring Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce (PhP 320) was delightful.

We could not have only one vegetarian dish so we added Steamed Tofu with Mapo Shiitake Sauce (PhP 380) to our list of orders. It seemed simple but I just love how the slabs of tofu were soft and silky. Spooned alongside Steamed Jasmine Rice (PhP 60), this vegan-friendly entree will disappear rapidly from the dining table to your stomach.

The next four dishes were served almost simultaneously, crowding for space and competing for attention. Determining which to get first posed to be hard, yet we figured it out. The Black Pepper Beef with Thai Basil (PhP 720) had a juicy and beefy oomph to every bite. The pieces of meat were so tender and the sauce’s flavor danced on the palette. The beef tasted absolutely rich with the Thai basil and was beyond-belief good.

If you’re a fan of spicy food, then you must order the Spicy Angry Chicken (PhP 590). Staying true to its label, the spicy chicken ended up how it was supposed to taste: fiery. You may tear up and start to sweat, but pleasure should always win out over pain.

To move on, we paired it with Chahan Fried Rice (PhP 320) to strike a balance of intense heat and somehow bland. Eating this fried rice alone will make you think that you’re eating just plain rice because of the lack of flavor. There are a few tiny bits of meat and scrambled eggs that can be seen but they were not enough to stand out. Chinese restaurants’ Yang Chow Fried Rice is still a winner.

Finally, we were not crazy to punish our tongue by having another spicy dish. The Chef’s Special: Duo of Salmon and Prawns (PhP 860) tamed it down. It consisted of black vinegar shallot compote, green beans, lime cream, edamame. I adore salmon for its versatility and robust flavor. It’s one type of fish I can consider eating one whole year round. 😛

Who wouldn’t agree that this Liquid Center Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (PhP 290) is so fantastariffic?! Once you break into the cake, there’s molten chocolate inside complimented perfectly by the ice cream. I love the chocolate oozing out. Oh dear God, forgive me for I have sinned. 😛

Price for Value: ★★★

One of my real joys is spending time with my loved ones eating. Thankfully, I made the right choice in celebrating my 25th birthday at Buddha-Bar Manila. There’s no doubt that prices are steep. But altogether, we enjoyed the food and had a wonderful time, indeed. I confidently recommend this place for those who look out for a perfect setting to celebrate anything. 😀

Buddha-Bar Manila has a promotion ongoing: spend at least PhP 3000 and get a raffle ticket to win a brand new Maserati (luxury sports car). I’m glad that our bill made me qualify for an entry and I hope to have the best of luck come September 6, 2014, the draw. Please pray for me! 😛

Picar Place, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City
For inquiries, call (02) 8566719, (02) 8566859
Date Published: 06/25/2014
18 / 20 stars

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Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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80 Responses

  1. stacy | Tsinoyfoodies.com

    wow 5 star for food! It looks different from when I dined there ah. Wanna go back there sometime. P.S. ang cute niyo ni loiue. Parang nahiya pa kayo magholding hands haha =))

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I would like to back in a heartbeat. 🙂 Aside from the food, we also enjoyed the impeccably clean bathroom and minimalist yet fusion with a touch of centuries of mixed art.

      Reply
  2. Patty | MrsC

    I didn’t know that Buddha Bar served Japanese food. Friends have been suggesting that we check the place out but we’ve never gotten around to doing so.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi Patty, come drop by with your friends at night. Groove with the music and get satisfied with food and drinks. 🙂 Be wow-ed with the prices.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      This bar-restaurant is one of the city’s must-sees! 🙂 The seating is beautiful because it is laid out so you can see everyone, and you can still enjoy your own intimate table. Yup, for sure, the food is great.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Nope, I am not good at copying recipes or knowing what ingredients mixed up to make the dish. :mrgreen: Maybe if you try it, you’ll get a better chance of knowing through taste.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I adore it pretty much for the romantic and je ne sais quoi ambience. 🙂 That dessert was recommended by the waiter. It looked small but five of us shared the plate and felt full enough of the sweets. It was warm and melty and rich and soft and felt like eating chocolate clouds from heaven. This is no exaggeration! 😛 I was just appalled by how disgustingly good that cake was.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I think everyone can find something they want on the menu. 😀 The selection of food from appetizers, main courses to desserts and drinks is enticing.

      Reply
  3. Paula Parker

    This is a great find! I couldn’t go there though, as I would steal a chair and get arrested. Those chairs and the entire look of the bar are outstanding. Great food presentation. This is a must visit bar!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha you’re quite a comic, Paula. 😀 On your way out, just don’t forget to rub the foot of the Buddha statue and ask for forgiveness. Or rather, hope that in the future you’ll be lucky to have your own dining set with those chairs as in the Buddha Bar!

      Reply
  4. Janine

    “pleasure should always win out over pain.” I love what you said, Roch. 🙂 Anyway, it seems that the tempura in the second maki makes the dish appetizing.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Hello Kirstin ,

      i was wondering if you have online Menu that or can you email me one . also what time do you guys close .

      Thank you

      Reply
      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Hi Chris, sorry I don’t have a copy of their menu. You can call them to inquire about the list of food available and also their operation hours. 🙂 (I’m not affiliated with Buddha Bar in any way hehe.)

  5. Samantha Angell

    Would you say Buddha Bar is more of a local place or touristy? When I was in Thailand, one of the things I found most interesting and cool was how Buddha was EVERYWHERE- street corners, in front of businesses, etc. The food looks delicious!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yeah when we went to Thailand, we saw lots of places with Buddha statues and displays, too. 🙂 I think Buddha Bar is more of an upscale local place and it could be touristy for those who don’t frequent this kind of place.

      Reply
  6. Nisha

    The place so colourful and the food. Oh! looks soo yummy :)especially the spicy angry chicken!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, cool it is! Buddha Bar is a very trendy bar-restaurant in the high end neighborhood of Makati. Dress to impress and brace yourself. This is the real deal. 😀

      Reply
  7. Emilee

    Okay I’m totally jealous. That place looks FABULOUS! The ambiance, the food, the decor. I love it all.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I totally get why you’re jealous. Here you experience good atmosphere in a good location and have good everything (well maybe except for the prices hehe). Highly recommended! 😀

      Reply
  8. jenny

    This looks like a great place to visit and your photos are making my mouth water! Thanks for the great review.. wished I was closer to check it out.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You’re welcome, Jenny. If you’re close to any of its branches worldwide, feel free to dine in and you might also have some unexpected choices that turn out to be likeable. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Don Purdum

    Congratulations on spending your birthday in a beautiful restaurant with great food. I occasionally like going to restaurants that require formal attire. The food looked great as well!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Don! 🙂 Aesthetically, Buddha Bar is really worth the hype. With sweeping space, high ceilings, rich golds, dark woods, dim-lighting, see and be seen among the well-dressed crowd.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I love that this bar-restaurant has a modern edge vibe but not too over the top. It’s great to chill in their lounge area with the low tables and cushioned plush seats. 😀

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Asian foods are my favorite and this place with “vampiresque” chandeliers, dim-lighting, rich colors, and huge Buddha happened to be a very cool space to have a full course Asian meal. 😀

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’m sure you’re kidding, right? Haha. If you insist, then you’re free to do that. But don’t forget to chew food properly and just enjoy it while you’re there. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Ann Bacciaglia

    Love the decor of the restaurant. It looks like a great place to enjoy a relaxing meal. The photos of the food are great! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The star here is the atmosphere which feels like a cross between a temple and a bar. 😆 There are more Buddha figures showcased on a glass shelf at the third floor. Food? Yummy!

      Reply
  11. Maria Oller

    The place actually looks luxurious and high end, the food looks fantastic and that tuna sashimi looks like ot die for.

    Reply
  12. Rebecca Swenor

    Wow the design of the place looks amazing. The food looks delicious but I would have to try the Black Pepper Beef. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, they’re drool-worthy! You might want to actually take out the pictures off the screen and eat the food right now. 😛 Sorry that’s not anyhow possible. 😆

      Reply
  13. Ave

    Wow, the food looks super delicious! I would love to try the Cajun Style Tuna Sashimi. Happy Birthday!

    Reply
  14. mindy

    I’ve heard about Buddha Bar a LOT but have never been to one yet, reading your review makes me want to visit one soon! I am a HUGE fan of authentic sushi and not too fond of fusion ones so i don’t know if i’d go crazy over theirs, but i think it’s worth a try! Oh yeah, happy belated 25th bday! May all of your wishes and dreams come true and have a rockin’ year!

    Reply
  15. papaleng

    The ambiance is good that compliment those deli dishes. I go for traditional friend chicken so I guess, I have to try that Spicy Angry Chicken for a change.

    Reply
  16. Jason Panuelos

    Wow! I didn’t know there was a place like Buddha-Bar in Makati! The interiors are so gorgeous and the food looks great, but I do agree that prices are steep. Definitely a great place to splurge in especially on an occasion like a birthday! BTW, I love your blog slider! Haha! 😀

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Jason! 🙂 The exterior design of the building does not quite reflect what’s going on inside, but both look fine. This is a place ideal for celebrations.

      Reply
  17. Yamito Uytingco Calamba

    I think I’ve been to Buddha Bar at least 4 times. Twice due to events and the rest just to hang out with friends. I dunno if its the company I keep but its never a dull moment when I’m in Buddha Bar. And PS. Me likey the food and drinks too! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Aldous Calubad (@team_aldous)

    I have been here before and I really miss those vegetable spring rolls. Yummy

    Reply
  19. Maria Gutierrez

    Hi Kirstin, I’m planning to take my Mom here tonight for her birthday. May fee ba ang reservation? Also, ano pa hidden charges on top of the food? Thanks.

    Reply
  20. Quincy

    Nice to hear, I’ve been visiting Budhabar restaurants and bars in other countries (Egypt little buddha bar in sharm el sheikh, Dubai Budhabar) and they have always an impressive ambiance so is the food. will be heading to Makati next week to eat there.

    Reply
  21. Rose c

    This place has nothing special to offer when it comes to dining. The prices were exaggerated for what you get. The sushi were falling apart when you dip it into the soja sauce, bland and lack of freshness. Desserts were disappointing and disgusting. This place is way too dark.

    This place might be good for drinking and clubbing, but never for dining.

    Reply

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