When it comes to dining out we’re always looking for something new and the recently opened Za Za Bazaar restaurant in the Gate in Newcastle was certainly a lot more fun than your average lacklustre Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet. Its concept is to create a kind of authentic night market ambiance showcasing cuisine from around the world with dishes made to order by chefs you can watch while you wait. There’s Chinese Indian, English, Japanese, American, Italian and Mexican for starters. In addition there’s a rather fetching desserts section with a Willy Wonkaesque chocolate fountain as a centre piece and great tubes of rainbow jelly beans and smarties adding to the sugar sweet selection. Not for the diabetic this bit.
The restaurant is huge with a mezzanine floor and a great cavernous interior very cleverly disguised by the coloured lighting, lamp shades and retro signs. It used to be a dark and rather down market pub and this is without doubt an improvement for the Gate in Newcastle and takes things in a slightly more sophisticated direction.
Jelly Beans Bonanza
Za Za Bazaar purports to be biggest restaurant in the UK and can cater for up to 1000 diners in one sitting. It certainly had a lively party like atmosphere when we were there last Friday night. I was very taken with the colourful lighting and the giant repro/retro signs which I would quite happily have appropriated and put in my house if there had been the opportunity to do so. As much as I liked dipping my pineapple in the chocolate fountain and shoving mini banoffee pies into my face I would have liked the illuminated cakes sign even more.
Inspired by the night markets of Asia (which are a whole lot of foodie fun) you can choose your noodle of preference and the ingredients you want it stir fired with, or watch a fresh Dosa with spicy prawns being griddled on the hot plate. The chefs all look very competent and swish things round and deal with big flaming woks in a very professional manner. Flames went up around the pans in impressive flares of fire and a reservoir of water prevented things getting out of hand and setting fire to the whole place. I had some dim sum (I am obsessed with steamed prawn dumplings after having the best ones ever in Hong Kong airport on the way back from Oz) I also tried out the ‘build your own Burrito’ at the Mexican bar but I don’t think there was much of the Mexican about the chef as he handed me my fresh burrito with a cheery ‘there you go hinny.’ Which I am pretty sure is not in common parlance in any province of that Southern, North American country.
The noodle meister
I didn’t have things like the fish and chips, the pasta or the burgers as I judged them too ‘ordinary’ but it does mean that there’s something for everyone including those fussy child eaters everyone seems to produce these days.
Another nice sign for the front room
Not sure why it’s called Za Za Bazaar mind apart from the fact it rhymes of course and sounds a bit exotic. The only Za Zas I’ve heard of are: – Za ZA Gabor who said witty things like “I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.” and the cat who was French from Hector’s House, a children’s programme in the seventies.
Is this Za Za?
Anyway they would both have enjoyed this fast, fun, funky eatery and with one price (£15.99) for as much as you can eat (although it’s cheaper at lunchtimes and on Sundays) it’s pretty good value for a night out. I’m not sure where all you can eat buffets fit in to the obesity debate mind you, but there is a real temptation just to keep on going back for more again, and again…