Saturday night I wanted to take my brother to a big gorgeous restaurant and since he loves asian food, I figured Buddakan would fit the bill. I also thought his fiancee would love the main room as it’s gilded in gold, huge chandeliers with soaring ceilings. I called in advance and requested to be seated in the main dining room and was disappointed they did not accomodate. Instead they stuck us in one of many small side rooms at Buddakan, the Buddha Room. We all stared at walls the entire meal :c
We decided to order a couple apps and mains and just share.
Tuna tartare spring rolls:
They may not look like much but these are quite delicious. There is a very thin, crispy fried outside encasing the sushi grade tuna tartare on the inside. The contrast in texture is wonderful and the flavors are great.
Our waiter, who was wonderful, told us that Buddakan’s pork belly buns were amazing, made on the premises (bun as well) and better than Ssam’s!!! Of course we had to try and compare.
Loved the presentation but the pork belly, although tasty, was MUCH smaller and thinner than Ssam’s. Ssam gives you 2-3 huge thick slices of pork belly. The homemade bun was harder than Ssam’s and actually broke in half at the seam. The plate was good but definitely not better than Ssam’s. Sorry, Buddakan.
Charred filet of beef with wonton crisps and mustard sauce:
Steak was cooked a perfect medium rare and very tender. The mustard sauce reminded me very much of an au poivre sauce and when poured over the steak added a rich creaminess.
Shrimp and lobster chow fun in x.o. sauce:
I love asian flat noodles, don’t you? There’s something about the texture and the stickiness of the noodles. Juicy jumbo shrimp. They skimped on the lobster meat but the flavor of lobster was present. The sliced peppers and grape tomatoes brightened up the plate with a burst of freshness.
Broken chili chicken:
This was very good. Not very spicy but incredibly flavorful. The meat was moist and encased in the deliciously crispy skin. The sauce had strong notes of ginger and sesame and perhaps soy? Very delicious chicken.
Probably my favorite dish of the night: dungeness crab fried rice.
I loved the presentation of the fried rice being stuffed into the crab’s outer shell. There may not have been huge chunks of crab meat throughout the rice but there were the flavors. The rice had a wonderful chewy, sticky texture that I absolutely adored. Honeslty, I may have served myself one or two more scoops than the rest of the table. I kept going back for more…..
Glazed Alaskan Black Cod with chili eggplant and black bean relish:
Cod was buttery with nice hints of miso. I wasn’t a huge lover of the chili eggplant, but I don’t generally love eggplant anyways (I find it too mushy).
The waiter forgot to put the order of the scallion pancake with braised short rib and green apple in and so gave it to us gratis (love freebies!):
The braised short rib was fall apart tender and had a nice sweetness to it but the scallion pancake below didn’t really hold up the dense meat that well. I think flatbread would have been better a sturdier canvas. You also couldn’t taste the scallion in the pancake as the meat really overpowered everything so if you are looking for the scallion pancake you can order with Chinese takeout, this isn’t it.
We got two desserts: Chocolate peanut butter bombe with honey caramel and peanut butter ice cream:
If peanut butter is your thing, you must get this. That chocolate candy bar looking thing has a layer of very dense peanut butter spread on some kind of cookie cracker and is full of that nutty flavor you are looking for. Add some cool creamy peanut butter ice cream to the mix and you will be in peanut butter heaven.
I think the dessert was good but I was full and sort of over the desserts at this point. Sorry. But I did like the peanut butter dessert better than the apple one.
The food was much more delicious than I expected it to be! I would for sure come back for that fried rice. I asked our waiter if Dale from Top Chef was still working the kitchen and he said he still worked at Buddakan and was in fact in the kitchen that moment! No wonder the food was yummy – his food always looks amazing on tv. So although there’s many wonderful places in NYC to dine, if I ever feel the inkling to get dressed up and hit the town, I think Buddakan would be a perfect dinner option pre-going out.
Buddakan, 75 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY