22 May 2024
  • 22 May 2024

De’ Buddha Johnstone dinner review by Suzanne Oswald

on 18 April 2024 0

Resident food reviewer Suzanne Oswald heads along to De’ Buddha, one of Renfrewshire’s most singular and diverse new eateries 

When the Mill team first got in touch about my first culinary assignment of 2024, it was hard not to be a little intrigued. Traditional Nepalese food in the heart of Johnstone? From a multi-award winning chef? Sign me up. 

Situated on Collier Street, in what was formerly Rennies pub, De’ Buddha is the brainchild of Renfrew resident and Nepalese chef Rabi Maharjan, formerly of the hugely popular ‘My Kitchen’ in Gourock. His latest mission? To bring an authentic taste of Nepal to the Renfrewshire faithful. By all indications, it’s a challenge he’s taking on with much gusto and unbridled enthusiasm. 

On first entry, it’s clear that no stone has gone unturned in Rabi’s quest to provide visitors with a memorable dining experience. The interior of the restaurant is a beautiful homage to his home country – think grand opulence, vibrant décor and detailed craftsmanship. Golden ornaments twinkle around the impressive bar area, while large, palatial chairs are placed at each table, eliciting sophisticated elegance and pure comfort. 

In fact, we’re told the traditional furniture, decorations and ornaments were flown in all the way from Nepal – everything carefully selected and given pride of place in the spacious, atmospheric eatery. The old adage of judging books and covers comes to mind, but as first impressions go, it’s a very, very good one. 

As for the menu, De’ Buddha offers a diverse array of traditional Nepalese dishes and multi-cuisine options. Whether you want to test your palette or dive into an old favourite, the options are there – from spicy curries and Nepalese street food favourites to burgers and fish and chips.

De' Buddha

Photos by Richard Jezek, Kukscinema Scotland

On Rabi’s recommendation, I started my meal with the Steamed Chicken Mo:Mo, a Nepalese take on dumplings. Wrapped in a silky skin, they were small, light and filled with a plump mouthful of minced chicken and spices. Most importantly, they were served with light, moreish peanut sauce that merited many return trips. This arrived with a surprise small plate of the Chicken Chilli, which Rabi said was a crowd favourite. It was easy to see why – the crispy chicken was doused in a sweet, sticky glaze of chilli and soy, and served with fresh onion and peppers. Despite a main course that was still inbound, those addictive chicken pieces were good to pass – and it didn’t take long to polish off the lot. 

Linzi, who was accompanying me, stayed a little closer to home with a warm, hearty bowl of lentil soup. While there were plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, Rabi told us he hopes to expand his plant-based offering in the next few months – with the aim of adding meat-free alternatives to his Nepalese cuisine. 

De' Buddha

Photos by Richard Jezek, Kukscinema Scotland

As for the main attraction, I followed the chef’s advice once again and opted for the Chicken Kathmandu. It proved a rewarding decision – as what arrived was a large, warming bowl of rich, well-balanced curry on a bed of rice, naan and poppadoms. The spicy kick was there and the flavours packed a punch – exactly the kind of food you’re after on a chilly January evening. Meanwhile, Linzi was quick to compliment the Halloumi Burger – which arrived with a generous slab of fired-up halloumi sandwiched in a bun with lettuce and harissa mayo. And of course, enough chips to satisfy the hungriest of visitors. 

Rabi insisted that we tried a dessert, and despite our initial deliberation, I’m glad we succumbed. Arriving like a work of art, the white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake tasted every bit as good as it looked – immaculately presented with cold mango sorbet, small pearls of meringue, sliced fruit and whipped cream all carefully organised around the plate. Smooth, creamy and utterly decadent, it was a sumptuous finale to a delicious meal.

Photos by Richard Jezek, Kukscinema Scotland

With passion and authenticity sewn into its very fabric, De’ Buddha is undoubtedly an exciting addition to Johnstone’s food scene. What’s more, it’s very reasonably priced for those still feeling that post-Christmas pinch. Already garnering positive reviews from locals, visitors have been flying through the door since its opening in November – and judging from our own visit, that will only continue. So, if you’re thinking about making that booking, we suggest you don’t wait about and get down posthaste. 

De Buddha, 12 Collier Street, Johnstone PA5 8AR, 01505 326225, website and reservations.

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