Get In Buddha’s Belly

Buddha's Belly Salmon

Contrary to one of my earlier posts, there doesn’t seem to be a recession in the Conejo Valley, not if you use the number of available parking spaces at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks on a Saturday afternoon as a reverse indicator of economic stability. I ventured to said mall last month for a VIP preview meal at the brand-spanking-new location of Buddha’s Belly, an Asian-fusion restaurant that has already won over the hearts and stomachs of people in West Hollywood and Santa Monica.

Now open right next to the Cheesecake Factory at the Oaks, Buddha’s Belly is spacious and calming without being stuffy. You can have a lively conversation there but the din never gets too loud that the waitress can’t hear your order for an additional Zen Garden, the fragrant cocktail that looks like a garden in a glass.

I got to sample many dishes from Buddha’s Belly’s menu over two visits, so I can tell you this restaurant is no one-trick pony. Although I did only have the one kind of cocktail, so if Zen Garden is their best pony, then you’re fine with that.

I am a meat eater, and I love little packets of food wrapped in thin rice wrappers or spring rolls. I like them fried or steamed, so I’m easily pleased. I tried the albacore spring roll, and I don’t normally eat fish but I really enjoyed these. I also tried chicken and beef shao bing, which are like little Asian hamburgers, but not really. The miso soup is pleasing and tastes just like it should, and the edamame is fine but came in a small portion, so it’s not something I overindulged in, which is totally possible.

Buddha's Belly Shao Bing


Buddha's Belly Veggie egg roll

Being a fusion restaurant, BB features cuisine from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and China. And maybe more. Fusion leaves a lot of room. The peanut coconut chicken noodle dish is robust and just a tiny bit too spicy for me, but I ate plenty of it anyway. The Korean beef (yep, there’s another country, I knew it!) simply melted in my mouth, and made for mouth-watering leftovers the next day for lunch.

Buddha's Belly Korean Beef

Buddha's Belly Mint Chicken


Buddha's Belly scallops

I had the scallops and asparagus on my second night, which comes with mound of mashed purple sweet potatoes. They are rich and delicious, and they actually taste purple. You’ll have to try it to see what I mean. And remember, I said I don’t usually eat fish, but scallops don’t really count as fish and the menu description was so appealing. The scallops themselves did not disappoint.

Dessert, when visiting a restaurant for the purpose of writing about it on a blog or similar, is mandatory. So it was great that I had companions at both meals, so that we could sample several desserts and pretend it was anyone else’s fault.

Buddha's Belly Green Tea Tiramisu

Turns out I don’t like green tea…anything. It’s not green tea’s fault, and if you like green tea, you’ll probably like the green tea tiramisu or the mochi ice cream. As it was, my favorite BB desserts are the red bean sorbet and the chocolate fondue. The chocolate comes in a mug that you might as well just drink and forget the dipping things, but if you must dip, that is fine too.

Buddha's Belly Fondue

Prices at BB are reasonable, and the location is perfect. Buddha’s Belly gives me a reason to go to the mall, and I guess it’s fine that I have to park so far away, what with all the eating.