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FOOD & DRINK

Chocolate Buddha Has Reopened in Fed Square with Two Sushi Trains, Ramen and Yuzu Cheesecake

One of the trains is an extra-fast 'bullet train' that delivers hot food straight to your table.
By Libby Curran
October 10, 2019
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Chocolate Buddha Has Reopened in Fed Square with Two Sushi Trains, Ramen and Yuzu Cheesecake

One of the trains is an extra-fast 'bullet train' that delivers hot food straight to your table.
By Libby Curran
October 10, 2019
  shares

Launched in 2003, Chocolate Buddha has long been a fixture of Federation Square's dynamic group of residents. But now, just like neighbour ACMI, the modern Japanese spot is mixing things up.

While it's still located in the same spot, Angela Mathioudakis' (Joe's Garage, Blue Train Cafe, Transit, Taxi) restaurant has undergone a hefty makeover courtesy of long-time collaborator, award-winning architect Peter Maddison. The newly reopened corner site is a study in contemporary Japanese sensibilities, from its breezy new look to the refined sashimi and big bowls of ramen. And it boasts not one, but two high-tech sushi trains — the first parading freshly made sushi, sashimi, maki and nigiri, and the other (an extra fast "bullet train") delivering hot dishes straight to your table.

Step through the door and you'll now discover a bright, lofty space, decked out with handmade Japanese tiles, raw cement and Victorian ash timber. Japanese fabric screens and compressed timber acoustic panelling help to create a more intimate feel.

There are separate kitchens for each part of the menu, with one open station dedicated to showcasing the talented sushi chefs at work. They're whipping up creations like soft-shell crab and avocado rolls, salmon rice paper sushi topped with spicy tobiko mayo, and panko-crumbed chicken katsu rolls.

William Watt

Elsewhere on the menu, you'll find izakaya-style plates such as steamed prawn and salmon dumplings, spicy lamb misoyaki, yakitori and a selection of seasonal tempura dishes. You can also tuck into some donburi – perhaps the chargrilled chicken with house-made teriyaki – a range of ramen and a handful of salads, including one starring crab meat, wakame and potato. A

Even dessert lovers are sorted, with clever treats like a yuzu baked cheesecake and chocolate spring rolls teamed with caramel miso sauce.

Meanwhile, the drinks list is equally loaded with choice. You'll find a largely Aussie wine lineup, sake and umeshu galore, and a mix of local brews and easy-drinking imports, both on tap and by the bottle.

Find the new-look Chocolate Buddha at Federation Square, Corner of Swanston and Flinders streets, Melbourne. It's open from Tuesday–Saturday 11.30am-10pm and Sunday–Monday 11.30am–9.30pm.

Images: William Watt

Published on October 10, 2019 by Libby Curran

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