If there’s one long-standing Melbourne restaurant in Federation Square that has stood the test of time, it is Chocolate Buddha.

It is a classic example of a restaurant that knows its audience and continues to deliver solid Japanese and Asian fare in a classic setting. Overlooking the federation Square, it isn’t lost on locals that the restaurant is beautifully light and airy, elegant and modern, and ideal for international travellers and visitors alike.

For the cost-conscious diner, its very cost-effective $20 lunch time menu is perfect for anyone seeking an well-priced option, and for an extra $15 you can include a dessert and drink (alcoholic or tea/coffee). The restaurant also offers vegetarian and vegan friendly choices, and good selection of tempting desserts, wine and beer and Japanese teas.

Yet like all good restaurants, it’s real appeal is in its service. Knowledgeable, agreeable and attentive, the excellent service starts from the moment you step in the door, with staff who are experts in attention to detail This is the kind of place where your water glass, and its fullness, is important.

Regarding food choices, especially the range of lunch menu items are very good, tasty and well made. I had the Ma Po Tofu option with salmon side and it was delicious (but not spicy as requested) and my friend had the Japanese soba noodles in a piquant broth, served with tempura vegetables. In a similar fashion to traditional bento Boxes, all lunch menu options come served on a tray and are beautiful arranged. Add to this a cup of tea or quality coffee and you have a lunch to remember.

In truth there is very little to fault Chocolate Buddha. Justifiably, it deserves its popularity more than two decades in the making, and for excellent service, reliable food and glorious ambience it still remains a paragon of good food and great service, remaining one of the best options at Federation Square hands down.

Rating: 3.5/5

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