SGM Reviews: Reach Your Food Nirvana with John Street’s Buddha Belly

By Amy Nicholls of North East Eats Blog

NOTE: As of July 29th 2023, Buddha Beat has closed down. This article remains for archive and historical purposes.

Housed in a Grade II-listed site (previously known as the popular D’Acqua before briefly being taken under new ownership as Undisclosed), Buddha Beat is a new, vibrant, modern restaurant serving up outstanding Thai cuisine.

This fantastic restaurant has only recently opened in the new year and is a sister site to River Beat on the Gateshead Quays, an award-winning Asian tapas restaurant owned by chef Andy Drape. Andy has won numerous awards over the years and it clear to see why! 

The restaurant itself is perfectly decorated with chic, but authentic Asian design and the staff were warm, welcoming and could not do enough for you. Having visited on restaurant week, the award winning tapas were 3 for £15 or 4 for £20 and this deal felt like a bargain, with the tapas being well worth their usual full prices.

It is obvious each of the tapas are well thought-out and intricately prepared; we opted to share 4 tapas (plus a curry and rice), and this was the perfect amount of food to leave us feeling full and satisfied.

For our tapas, we opted for: pork belly, lamb toast, salmon gravlax and the fennel and onion bajis. The super succulent pork belly with its layer of crunchy fat was my favourite, but each and every dish was packed full of flavour and beautifully presented. The gravlax was a dish I had never tried before as I am not usually a fan of cured fish, but this was delicious and so well seasoned. The lamb toast had a fantastic dipping sauce and the crisp fennel bajis met the expectations of their Indian counterpart.  

If only having tapas we would have ordered another 4 (we do have big appetites but I believe 4 tapas is a good amount for the average person); instead, we opted to share tapas and sample one of the yummy Thai curries from the main menu. 

For our curry, we chose the pork belly massaman and were blown away when it was placed down in front of us. The curry was jam packed full of tender meat, crunchy veg and tasty herbs and spices. Even the rice on the side had such attention to detail as it was topped with shallots, herbs and crispy onions – it’s small touches like these that show how passionate a restaurant is; it is clear that Buddha Beat takes great pride in its food, decor and service.

Upon leaving this restaurant, I am left willing for it to succeed as it is an asset to Sunderland’s food scene. Before beginning to review restaurants in Sunderland, I had no idea how many fantastic places were hidden in amongst side streets I have never even visited before; Buddha beat is definitely one of those superb places that will no doubt become a regular haunt whenever I need my Thai cravings fulfilled.