A collaboration between restaurateur Angela Mathioudakis and Peter Maddison (Maddison Architects and Grand Designs Australia) has resulted in the re-imagination of Melbourne venue Chocolate Buddha.
The new fit out is strongly reflective of a contemporary Japanese aesthetic, while the eclectic menu encompasses vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kid’s options with brunch trays available over the lunch period.
A central feature is the high-tech sushi train, which delivers maki, nigiri, sashimi and sushi. Hot food such as tempura, aburi scallops and katsu rolls are delivered by shinkansen too.
Izakaya-style food includes black cod moromisoyaki, tebasaki, steamed noodle dumplings, spicy lamb misoyaki, agedashi tofu and gyoza, with donburi such as teriyaki chicken don and steak don on the menu too alongside miso soup. Ramen noodle okonomiyaki, spicy pork ramen and green tea tempura soba noodles are also on offer as well as crab meat potato salad, tofu & avocado salad and tempura soft shell crab noodle salad. White & dark chocolate spring rolls, Choya apple crumble, chocolate peanut butter mud cake and yuzu baked cheesecake are featured on the dessert menu.
Cocktails, Japanese and Australian beers and carefully selected boutique wines to match Japanese flavours are available by glass or bottle form the drinks list. The sake offering includes rosé, sparkling, preservative free, unfiltered and unpasteurised styles. A range of umeshu, chai, green and organic teas are also available.
Chocolate Buddga was first opened in 2003 by Mathioudakis, who has also run a number of other restaurant with her brother Paul Mathis, including Cerabona’s, Joe’s Garage, Blue Train Café, Automatic, Taxi, Transport & Transit. Maddison has been associated with most of Mathioudakis’ projects.
“Architecturally, Chocolate Buddha is immersed in a natural palette of Victorian Ash hardwood, compressed timber acoustic panels, raw cement sheets, handmade Japanese tiles and Noren (Japanese Fabric) divider screens,” Maddison says of the latest collaboration.
“The design responds directly to Japanese cuisine with a kitchen set up specifically for ramen and donburi and with dedicated sushi chefs on show. Collectable ancient Buddha statues are strategically located to breathe a sigh of tradition and authenticity to the space.
“The restaurant has what is possibly a first for Melbourne, a sushi train with an additional bullet train delivering express (hot) meals to customers in a hurry, all ordered at lightning speed on a series of mini tablets.
“Moody, intimate, textured and acoustically softened, this restaurant is built for a culinary and aesthetic experience.”