If Buddha wasn't so peace-loving, you'd call it the Sydney's battle of the Buddhas. The giant, table-eating Buddha has become the throwback restaurant design accoutrement of the summer of 2019-20.
Chu, the Rooty Hill restaurant spin-off from the founder of China Doll, opened with a massive Buddha in its dining room. And Simon Goh has finally dusted off the three-metre Buddha he's had in storage since closing Chinta Ria in Cockle Bay in 2014.
"Theirs is a meditative Buddha; ours is a happy Buddha. He's happy and he wants to eat," Goh says of the centrepiece at his just opened reboot, Chinta Ria Buddha Love at Darling Square.
Goh, who is the first to admit the Buddha craze started off in the 1990s at Buddha Bar in Paris, says it took a little more than dusting after sitting exposed to elements. "[It was] badly damaged; a friend did major surgery," he says.
Next to Auvers Dining at Darling Square, the restaurateur commissioned his original Chinta designer, Melbourne-based Wayne Finschi, to sculpt its interior.
The casual Malaysian diner focuses on "comfort" classics. Its opening menu sweeps from char kway teow to beef rendang, satchmo squid and chicken rice.
"We're also doing limited edition mango pancake Buddha love macarons," Goh says.
Open daily 11.30-3pm and 5.30-9.30pm.
Darling Square, 14 Nicolle Walk, Haymarket, 02 8072 9141, chintariabuddhalove.com