Cuisine: French , Asian
Menu: View the Menu
A few weeks ago, many of you will recall, I wrote a rather negative review of a new restaurant called Morimoto. The restaurant was the first of two Philadelphia restaurants owned and operated by Stephen Starr scheduled to open in the Chelsea/Meatpacking area this year. Now the second restaurant, Buddakan, has opened. I had a chance to have dinner there last week (I was not thrown out on my well-padded booty as I feared), and I have to eat my own words now and say, Mr. Starr, you have opened a very interesting restaurant. Nice job.Review By: Andrea Strong
First of all, the place is spectacular. Spectacular to look at, to dine in, and to dream about while you sleep. Just sit down in this Buddha temple-as-French brasserie, a dining room with 38-foot high ceilings, carved wood chandeliers, and brocade tapestry sofas-as-banquettes and you feel a bit like princess (prince, or Queen, as the case may be). Indeed designer Christian Liaigre (The Mercer in New York, and Hakkasan in London) evokes an East-Meets-Paris vibe, with an interplay of Chinese lanterns, Asian patterns, French tapestry, and grand old brasserie style. The place is a maze of serpentine dining rooms, nooks, lounges and libraries, so it is possible to have a different mood experience with every visit. In many sections, the lighting is low, in others, it is soft and dark, in others it is warm and gold, and in others cool and sexy. You should by all means take a tour. Leave a trail of panko breadcrumbs to find your way back.
The food, at least on that first night I was there, was pretty much flawless. I cannot say I ate one thing that made me utter a sound other than Mmmmm, Ahhhh, Ohhhhh. It was vaguely pornographic. Chef Michael Schulson is joined by consulting chef Angelo Sosa (Yumcha), and a crew of 70 cooks to feed the beautiful bodies filling the restaurant’s 270 seats. It’s quite an ambitious place, but I found nothing short of brilliance there that first week. The menu in giant sized, a fanciful selection of dim sum, cold and hot apps, noodles, rice, and meat, fish and tofu. Taro Puff Lollipops ($9)—fat fried balls filled with minced pork and ginger—are essential. Ditto the delicate edamame dumplings ($10) bobbing around in a complex broth of sweet shallots and sauternes. Shaken steak tartare is incredible, heated up with chiles and given a bit of pop from tapioca ($13), plump frog legs are deboned and wok-fried with golden garlic chives ($12). A giant crisp scallion pancake is topped with shredded braised beef short ribs and green apple and ginger coleslaw ($12). Don’t skip the Chinese sausage fried rice topped with a sunny-side up egg ($9), or the Mao Poe Tofu, a dish that proves that tofu can be extremely compelling, as long as it is sautéed with minced pork and fresh red chiles ($14). I could go on—the black bean lobster, the crispy pork belly, the kimchee cauliflower, but I won’t, for now.
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
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