Monday, July 9, 2012

Buddha-Bar: Europe and Asia in one sensually gustatory place

If there's one upscale restaurant-lounge that appeals to all the senses, it's got to be Buddha-Bar, which I never knew existed in the metro until I got an invite to dinner specially prepared for us by Executive Chef Maria Milagros Socorro Santos.

Buddha-Bar is a worldwide chain of restaurant-lounges. The Paris branch is probably the most well known. But checking out Buddha-Bar's website, I learned that besides Paris, they can be found in Beirut, Cairo, Caracas, Dubai, Georgie, Jakarta, Kiev, London, Monte Carlo, Mexico, Prague and Washington. The Manila branch opened in 2011.

Located along Kalayaan Ave., the first impression you get of Buddha-Bar is its size. Three floors of restaurant space (the lounge on the ground floor, the restaurant on the 2nd floor, and the 3rd floor is a roofdeck with canopied lounge chairs for a different dining experience. Total seating capacity is about 500.

But wait till you enter. 

It was actually quite dark for a restaurant. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the dimness. Then it hits you. 

Visual Sensuality

It was eye candy as I looked around -- shiny wooden floors, amber-colored lighting coming from hundreds of lamps and tealights on tables, a gigantic Buddha that towered over the open space in the middle of the room that was 2 stories high, classy and opulent furnishings, deep mahogany tables, intricate wooden carvings that adorned the ceilings, smatterings of Chinese and Japanese art objects as well as Khmer statues. The bright red carpet on the stairs leading up to the 2nd floor had subtle lighting on each step so that from afar, the entire staircase and the carpet looked so grand. Going up that lighted staircase was surreal, almost like you were in a movie set. The whole place felt like a temple merged with a hotel lobby and nightclub all rolled into one. I was told that the "look" of all Buddha Bars worldwide are the same. And all the furnishings were brought in from abroad.

This gigantic Buddha was shipped into Manila!

Ground floor interiors

View of mezzanine. Notice the 18th century style wrought-iron balustrades along the sides.

View of the awesome lighted staircase from the mezzanine
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