Is Buddha Lo the New ‘Top Chef’ GOAT?


In terms of palate, do you think that there are textures and flavors that maybe the Chinese have been exploring that Western palates don’t understand yet?

The Western palate is getting there. So for example, my dad, when he first started, opened up a Chinese restaurant which sold fried chicken and chips. He called it a “Swiss chicken cutlet,” which was basically a cordon bleu. It’s so weird to have that in a Chinese restaurant, and the more that it’s evolved, the more Chinese it’s become and the more people have become interested in it. So I think that more people are slowly getting to know what real Chinese food is, and it’s starting to change the world of cooking because real Chinese food is phenomenal.

There was a viral TikTok or something that was basically someone describing their Chinese takeout in the UK, and Americans were sort of obsessed with it because it was so much different from what we think of as American Chinese food. What was Australian Chinese food that you guys were preparing when you were growing up versus the Chinese food that you’ve seen in the US?

[American and Australian Chinese food are] very similar in a way, you would never find these deep fried chicken dishes that are covered in sweet sauce in Chinese cuisine. There’s also a lot of American-Chinese stuff that we don’t have in Australia, like we don’t have egg rolls. We have things like a dim sim, what you call dim sum, kind of like the trolleys and stuff like that. But we have a thing called a dim sim, and it’s very similar to a siu mai. You won’t find it outside Australia. It’s very interesting when you go to different countries how they do Chinese food. For example, the French, they have a sort of buffet-style Chinese food, but the thing is none of it’s hot. They’ll put it all in a container and then they’ll microwave it.

Amar mentioned at the Restaurant Wars dinner that in London, you guys basically bought the Whole Foods out of AP flour pretty early on and that it was kind of hard to find for the rest of the season.

That was hard because Brexit and the sanctions going on, we were starting to realize that the staples were running out. For example, I couldn’t find vanilla essence, and that’s something that you should be able to find everywhere. I actually stuffed up in one of the challenges later because I thought “this is the only flour that’s here and it says bread flour and I’m going to make bread.” But it was actually gluten free. They didn’t put in the edit, but it didn’t matter, I had immunity for that challenge anyway.

Were there other important things that you thought were important story beats that didn’t make the edit that you were surprised about?

I think there’s so many interesting things. For example, Victoire, the reason that she learned how to speak English is because she’d read comic books. It was so funny just sitting next to her and she’d just be reading comic books the whole day. Obviously Sylwia’s got so many stories about her back in Poland and what’s happening with the war. They touched on it, but she also had some things going on with her family I probably wouldn’t want to disclose. But yeah, there’s a lot of things that happened that doesn’t get mentioned on the show for sure.

Okay, so that tomato tea, which I was lucky enough to try at the Restaurant War dinner, it was very good. How did you make that?

So obviously you need really good tomatoes. You would then put it in a kitchen processor, and then you’re going to hang that in a cheesecloth with something to press it down so the water drips down. You’re going to get this clear clarified tomato water and then you’re going to reduce it by a little bit, add some white Balsamic vinegar, followed by a shitload of lemon thyme, herb, basil, a touch of sugar and salt, and that’s it.

Did you use the pulp for anything or did you discard that?

The pulp on that day I gave it to Craft and they used it for family [the family dinner, which restaurants serve to their staff before service], as like a passata.

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Is Buddha Lo the New ‘Top Chef’ GOAT?

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