Friday, January 6, 2017

Buku | Raleigh, NC

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc

Despite having lived in the Raleigh area for 15 years, I've never really taken the time to explore it. Sure, I've visited a few of the finer points here such as museums and theatres. But when it comes to food, I've been stuck in a rut for longer than I care to admit. In recent years, the downtown restaurant scene has been absolutely booming with new offerings, an emphasis on farm to table, and unique spins on foreign cuisine.

Last month, my mother, husband and I had tickets to a local production of Monty Python's Spamalot at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh. As is our usual tradition before big events, we wanted to have a nice meal out at a nearby restaurant. Knowing that the Raleigh food culture is as robust as ever, we pondered our choices and landed on global street food restaurant Buku, a mere five minute walk from the venue into the heart of the city.

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, strawberry-lime-agua-fresca

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, indian-naan

It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, and after settling into our outdoor table and perusing the menu, we decided to start our meal with libations and appetizers. There was a plethora of craft cocktails, local and foreign beers, and plenty of wine and scotch beverages to choose from. But seeing as we had a show to attend later that afternoon, I settled on the strawberry-lime agua fresca. Gorgeously pink and fruity with a hint of fizz, it was the perfect drink for sitting outside by the bustling street, cool breezes blowing past.

By the time we were ready for starters, we were feeling quite starved, so two starters to share were ordered as our first taste of all that Buku had to offer. Warm, melt-in-your-mouth Indian naan with fresh cucumber raita was a huge hit all around. We followed it up with a plate of light-as-air vegetable dumplings filled with ginger, carrot, cabbage, black mushroom, scallion and mustard leaf, and served with spicy chile-soy for dipping. Needless to say, our palates were thoroughly excited for the meal to come!

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, vegetable-dumplings

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, buku-roll

The main course options spoiled us for choice, so we each decided that trying a different cuisine would be the best way to get the full Buku experience. First up was a taste of Japan with the signature Buku Roll, expertly crafted with jumbo lump crab, avocado, and cucumber, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and topped with a large dollop of spicy tuna tartare.

From there we headed west across the Sea of Japan to Korea where a bowl full of Korean BBQ Bibimbap filled the tummy and warmed the soul. Tender, juicy, grilled hanger steak, bok choy, sesame-roasted carrots, spicy pickled cucumber, kimchi, steamed rice, a fried egg, and gochujang come together to create a flavorful meal that will leave you longing for more.

For our final stop on our global food tour, we dip south to India for a homestyle twist on the standard samosa with the Samosa Pot Pie. Masala cream sauce, curried pastry, paneer, fingerling potatoes, roasted baby radishes, cremini mushrooms, sweet peas and cilantro make up this divine dish which is perfectly complemented by the sweet, nutty mango-pistachio chutney that accompanies it.

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, korean-bbq-bibimbap

buku-restaurant, global-street-food, raleigh-nc, samosa-pot-pie

Service at Buku was absolutely impeccable. Knowing that we had a show to get to, our waitress made sure to put a rush on our order which meant that our food came out in record time. Quality didn't suffer for quickness, and we were all more than satisfied with our meals. Once the mains were on the table, we wasted no time and dug right in, passing the plates around so that each of us could try as much of the delectable menu as possible.

As we were strapped for time (and our bellies were more than full), we unfortunately had to skip dessert. However, going back to Buku isn't an issue of if, but of when, and next time I'll be sure to save a little room for a nibble of something sweet. I'm thinking their Kahlua and Honey-Enhanced Tiramisu is in order next visit!

If you are in the Raleigh area, you must give Buku a try. With their assortment of cultural cuisines, plus dishes for vegetarians and vegans, there is something to strike the fancy of everyone. And if the weather is nice, sitting outside on their patio is essential. What could be better than fantastic food, cold drinks, and a view of one of the most beautiful cities in the South? Having all those things at Buku!

Have you been to Buku? What is your favorite restaurant in Downtown Raleigh?

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2 comments

  1. Replies
    1. It's fantastic! I love that they have so much variety there. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Everything is top notch! xx

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