Restaurant review #31 – Buddhasia is a new Vietnamese restaurant in the city center of Bruges (opened Fall 2014). It is located at the back of the Sint-Salvator Cathedral and near the main shopping street (a 5 min walk from ‘t Zand). NOTE: see update below.
Thai or Vietnamese restaurants often have a selection of vegetarian dishes that seem to be vegan (sometimes seperately listed as vegetarian or vegetable dishes on the menu), But restaurant Buddhasia takes it up to the next level and has a seperate vegan category on their menu card! Yeah! The vegan section lists five main dishes, ranging from 9€ to 14€.
Upon ordering, we got an appetizer with noodles and bean sprouts (taugé). Our drinks followed quickly: a mango juice (4€) and a freshly squeezed orange juice (4,5€).
We asked whether they also could suggest us some vegan entrees, and were suggested the Pho – noodlesoup (9€) (unfortunately no other vegan entrees possible). As a main dish, I asked the tofu with morning glory (water spinach) and garlic 14€) and my partner went for the noodles with vegetables (12€). Although the dishes are marked as ‘vegan’ on the menu card, given our debacle at Fanny Thai a week previously in Brussels (see our blog), we specifically verified and asked if no oyster sauce or other animal ingredients were used in any of the dishes. The waiter confirmed that everything was vegan, and reassured us that they had done their homework (also knowing that vegans don’t wear leather and such).
Although you can’t really tell from the photo, the noodle soup was a HUGE portion. It also had some chunks of vegan squid, something which we had never eaten before (and certainly have never encountered in a restaurant!). I liked them. The quantity of the soup stood in contrast to its flavour though, meaning, it didn’t taste like much really. Lucklily, we did get some sauces on the side (soy sauce and chili) to spice things up a bit.
A bit of the same story for the main dishes: large portions, but not much flavour. The tofu dish did come in a garlic sauce, but the tofu seemed like it had come straight out of the package (not marinated nor baked or anything). So it tasted just like tofu (and anyone who has eaten tofu, can tell you that unmarinated tofu tastes like … nothing really 😉 ). To add some flavour to the dish, I asked if I could get the sauces back on the table to spice it up. The noodles dish was ok, although again – as with the soup – it contained a huge portion of noodles, and not that much vegetables. So that was a lot of noodles for my partner that night: the appetizer, the soup and the main dish!
We were already more than full, but I wanted to try this tropical sounding vegan dessert anyway Che bap (tapioca pearls with coconut, 9€). Mixed opinions at the table: I loved this dessert, although my partner was not so thrilled by it (yes, we both spooned away on this one dessert ;-).
All in all, we did enjoy our dining experience at Buddhasia, although the dishes can surely use some more flavouring and spicing up. Very happy to see vegan dishes mentioned seperately on the menu card.
Prices for the main dishes seem fair, although we did find the entree (soup, 9€) and the dessert (che bap, 9€) expensive.
Friendly waiter, who also gave us a reassuring feeling about the vegan aspect.
Buddhasia is not a big restaurant, if I recall about 10 tables or so. With a rather flashy, modern style interior. And dito music (I have no idea what style, but it sure had a uptempo beat, I would call it modern lounge music 😉 ). Which was beginning to get to on our nerves. Nonetheless, I’m sure we will visit Buddhasia again over the years, to try out their other vegan dishes!