The Buddha’s Belly on Beverly Boulevard just east of Fairfax closed last September. There’s still a location out in Santa Monica.
The eclectic Pan-Asian restaurant had struggled for some time. The last-ditch effort to keep it open involved turning its private dining room into Buddha’s Lounge (a bar ‘n’ snack place) and then making the place look more like a cocktail lounge. I was never a huge fan of the food there — I was once served an entree that was so overcooked as to be inedible and the management had zero interest in replacing it — but I had friends who loved it. I didn’t much like the parking situation either, and suspect that accounted for some of its problems.
But a lot of people swore by its unique twist on some Asian staples. The magician Ricky Jay seems to have loved it…or maybe it was just coincidence that he always seemed to be at the next table when I ate there. Those who crave its sweet chili shrimp will just have to drive out to Broadway and 2nd by the sea.