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RESTAURANTS

Where Buddha sits

April 27, 2006|Leslee Komaiko

Buddha has gone from spiritual symbol to pop icon, appearing on T-shirts and, now, at a restaurant near you.

Zen Zoo Tea Cafe

Buddha has his own little room -- a comfy nook -- at this, the newest in a trio of cafes. Though Zen Zoo is best known for refreshing boba teas and tonics, there are some delicious salads, including one made with tender shredded chicken, ginger and organic greens, as well as nearly a dozen dim sum offerings.

* Chicken salad, $8.46. 230 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 860-0688.

Moz Buddha Lounge

In a part of town not known for its many hip dining destinations, Moz, from the same owner as Fins, stands out with its lively lounge scene and happy hour. The expansive patio with fire pit and mountain views is especially popular when the weather is fine. But Buddha is inside. Seafood offerings such as sauteed tiger prawns and soba noodles in a ginger garlic sauce are a specialty.

* Prawns, $19.95. 30105 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills, (818) 735-0091.

Nirvana

Buddha is a significant presence at this contemporary Indian spot, where diners ensconced on canopied beds can enjoy dishes such as creamy lentils, charbroiled leg of lamb and, for dessert, fresh mango napoleon. He appears on the hand-carved wood doors facing the boulevard, on the patio and, most notably, as the centerpiece to an interior fountain.

* Lentils, $12; lamb, $32. 8689 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 657-5040.

Ten Asian Bistro

A 17-foot-tall gilded Buddha sits atop the sushi bar at this year-old showstopper with the requisite water and fire elements as well as a kinetic lighting system that bathes diners in myriad hues. As for the food, it's pan-Asian, with an emphasis on creative Japanese fare such as Cajun albacore with crispy onions.

* Albacore, $12. 4647 Macarthur Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 660-1010.

Buddha's Belly

Affordable prices along with a menu of appealing Asian favorites such as chicken lettuce cups and pad Thai, not to mention a simple but stylish interior, made this spot a hit from the start. And where's Buddha? Sitting on the counter, but also featured after dark in bright lights on a huge wall to the east of the restaurant.

* Lettuce cups, $8.50; pad Thai, $9.95. 7475 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 931-8588.

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