Review: Dining at home takes away experience of top notch Cantonese food

A selection of dim sum from Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards

A selection of dim sum from Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards - Credit: Archant

Food reviewer Nick Richards sampled the takeaway menu from Norwich’s Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse

Beef, ginger and spring onion sauce at Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards

Beef, ginger and spring onion sauce at Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards - Credit: Archant

Lockdown rules mean a chance to try new places and I decided to swerve my local favourite Chinese takeaway for the slightly more up market Baby Buddha on Ber Street, Norwich.

I must confess I’ve never actually eaten in the popular restaurant but scrolling through the options on the Deliveroo app, the name jumped out and I was itching to try some of their food, especially as I’d heard good things about their dim sum - the small steamed, fried or baked dishes that are a popular part of Cantonese cuisine.

Service:

Szechuan chicken at Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards

Szechuan chicken at Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards - Credit: Archant

I ordered through Deliveroo and everything was very straight forward. The food arrived exactly 45 minutes later right when it should have done. The driver left the food on my doorstep, knocked on the door and sat in his car until I had collected it and then he drove off. Anyone worried about coming into contact with a delivery driver during lockdown need not worry, it is all done very safely.


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Food:

The menu at Baby Buddha is vast, even for a takeaway - dishes range in price from prawn crackers (£3) right up to a whole crispy aromatic duck with 24 pancakes that costs £48.

The Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

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Along with the standard dishes from this part of the world that many of us are used to are some that may make us English diners wince - frogs legs, pig intestines and pig’s stomach all appear on the menu.

We played it safer and ordered two main dishes, two drinks, rice and a dim sum platter. The food arrived in a mix of plastic and foil containers. Despite only traveling for 10 minutes the food wasn’t overly warm - I was tempted to give it a minute in the microwave before eating, but that always feels like the wrong thing to do with a takeaway!

First up, my wife and I tackled the dim sum platter for two people (£12.50). For the money there were eight small offerings - king prawn dumplings, pork and prawn dumplings, grilled pork dumplings and Vietnamese spring rolls. These were generally good, the king prawn dumplings were the pick of the four dishes. The pork dumplings tasted a little like sausagemeat while the spring rolls were coated in a batter so thick I couldn’t really taste the vegetables. They came with crispy fried spring greens topped with fish powder and some chilli dipping sauce. The sauce was great - not the bright vivid orange colour you find in some Chinese restaurants, this was lighter in colour with small chilli flakes floating in it, rather than big unpalatable chunks.

I ordered beef ginger and spring onion sauce (£11.30) which, although made with nice quality beef and full of mushrooms, carrots, baby sweetcorn, wasn’t the most flavoursome dish. This was probably more my own fault, and maybe I should have ordered something that packed a bigger punch.

A range of dishes from Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards

A range of dishes from Baby Buddha in Norwich. Picture: Nick Richards - Credit: Archant

It came with a thick sauce, and although I happily ate it, it wasn’t a sensational dish, especially for the price which seemed a tad steep. Though being fair, it was a huge portion.

My wife ordered Szechuan chicken (£10.80) which was a far better choice. It was full of big flavours - red and green peppers, big chunks of sweet onions, full of chicken and coated in a very nice chilli sauce. Like the sauce that came with the dim sum, it didn’t look like a radioactive oil slick.

It was another large portion. I think next time we’d order one main, one rice and a selection of starters or some noodles.

Added to this we ordered a plain boiled rice (£3.20) which was perfectly cooked and enough to share plus two drinks - a 330ml bottle of Chinese beer Tsingtao (£2.50) and a 330ml bottle of Coke for my wife (£1.50).

Price:

Our meal came to £42.29 so we easily qualified for the free delivery which is automatic if you spend more than £15. I have to be honest and say it was pushing the upper limit of what I’d want to spend on a takeaway that was essentially one dish and four small dim sum each.

Saying that, had I sat in the restaurant I probably wouldn’t have flinched, but subtract the atmosphere and vibe of being in a proper Chinese restaurant and having the food presented to you on a plate is very different to collecting it on your door and looking at it in plastic containers.

With lockdown on the immediate agenda, it’s something we all have to get used to and maybe if I’d collected it and saved 20% on the price I would have considered it better all round value.

I would say the food is good, the ingredients are clearly fresh and top quality and this is not some cheap and cheerful Chinese, rather a proper authentic Cantonese dining experience.

If you want a greasy meal that instantly fills you up and leaves you feeling hungry again a few hours later then you won’t find it here. This to me is refined, up market Cantonese dining, which sets it apart from other run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants in Norwich and that’s why it didn’t quite seem right eating this food as a takeway in a plastic container.

I’d suggest ordering something higher up on the spicy scale and even supplying your own rice and drinks if you want to keep the cost down - and that will give you more money to explore the more interesting areas of their menu.

To see Baby Buddha’s extensive menu, click here

Disclaimer: Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited.

The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer.

The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.

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