Buddha Sushi Bar soft-opened a few weeks ago, quietly launching on the Upper Eastside amid the September restaurant craze. After throwing a grand-opening party this past weekend, the restaurant is officially ready and willing to serve you fresh fish (but you'll have to catch it yourself). Decide what you want to eat as it cruises by; conveyor belts deliver basic,
well-priced rolls, as well as little boats of
sashimi and seaweed salad for the taking.
Chef Michael Asalie of Little Lotus (who also logged time under Masaharu Morimoto) is the brains behind the sushi bar, and much like his offerings there, the rolls have a creative twist of complementary ingredients. You can choose to take what drifts by or order from the full menu in the main dining room.
Many of the items from Lotus carry over -- the "Bic Mac" roll, stuffed with the same mix of spicy tuna and snow crab, drizzled with a sweet sauce ($15); the "Nelson Demille," which is a reincarnation of Lotus's "Rock and Roll," made with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and masago ($12); as well as a similar-sounding "ceviche" roll, with fried shallots and citrus ($13). The selections may have different names, but if you fell in love with the "8 Crazy Night" roll, worry not, because Buddha's "Fruity" roll fits the bill with its combination of tuna, salmon, shrimp, and whitefish with tamago, masago, aparagus, and peach (yes, peach); then the whole thing gets gets dressed with a creamy soy mustard ($18).
Diners seeking the road more traveled can get a spicy tuna roll or
"mini sandwich" ($6) and other familiar sights such as shumai ($5) tuna
and salmon tartare (with a mustard miso sauce, $12) and traditional agedashi tofu (deep-fried, with fish broth, bonito flakes, and ginger, $5). An extensive tapas menu ranges from crispy pork ($3) and crispy fish (with avocado, kaiware, and a creamy sauce, $8) to a "shrimp cruller," with black tobiko and a red-wine reduction ($8).
The space is dimly lit, which will be appreciated most by those who take
advantage of Buddha's 2 a.m. closing time on the weekends. Parking is free, and they also
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deliver for free within a two-mile radius, which is not very far, but a nice perk for those in
the neighborhood. Buddha Sushi Bar is located at 1071 NE 79th St. (305-677-3633) and is open from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Mondays.