Private houses are unlikely to catch on in Hong Kong, but noodle bars may be about to take off in Bristol. Budokan, Bristol's first noodle bar, (up the hill from the Colston Hall, the city's aged performing-arts centre for the foreseeable future, now that the Behnisch building has been cancelled), occupies three former retail units on the ground floor of a 1960s building. Budokan shares certain characteristics common to all noodle bars, whether here or in the Far East: economic table and bench seating, comparatively fast food and a streamlined serving system.
In Japan, packaging is a fine art. Budokan exemplifies this art - from the red stamped logos on the window, to the graphics on the place mats. Structural changes to the space involved moving the entrance up the hill - to give visitors an overview of the noodle bar on entry - and introducing a wall down the length of the main space which gives a framed view of the kitchen, separates ancillary spaces from the eating area and creates the effect of a layered interior beyond the actual restaurant.
The simple, Japanese-style furniture consists of sprayed mdf lacquer- effect benches (very comfortable) and refectory tables made from timber flooring strips salvaged from the Brooke Bond factory, (now Artspace), bolted together and stabilised on steel frames. Black 'lacquer' banquettes with white leatherette upholstery form a small seating area by the bar, a place to drink before eating, or wait for seating space. Flooring is in matt, brown ceramic tiles and the walls are painted olive and beige, with a highly reflective gloss finish to reflect the theatrical lighting scheme, an importation from Tonkin's Q Bar in Hong Kong: fabric stretched along the length of the ceiling emits a glowing sunrise to sunset effect on a 24-minute cycle. Budokan means 'meeting place' in Japanese and it looks likely to live up to its name in Bristol.