Monday, August 9, 2010
Have you ever checked out Tinsel & Tine's list of "Next Dining Experiences"? (scroll down sidebar) Buddakan was on that list for a very long time. I was able to check it off in June, as I was treated to this long standing Stephen Starr hot spot for my birthday.
For years I walked passed this restaurant and felt as if it were a private club and that I needed a special invitation to dine. The family style menu aspect always gave me the impression I needed to come with a gaggle of people. That every table would be filled with laughing, jovial large parties and anyone dining with a party of 2 or even 3 would stick out like a sore thumb. No so at all, the portions are ample but 2 people can easily devour most menu choices. The seating is typical of any restaurant. In fact, aside from the visual of the big Buddha, the atmosphere and decor is nice, but not impressive. Although, I did enjoy the oddness of the people faced chairs.
We decided to forgo the pricier, meatier entrees: (AUSTRALIAN TAJIMA "KOBE" NEW YORK STRIP garlic tentsuyu, 7 oz and 14 oz, CHAR GRILLED AGED BEEF szechuan fries, watercress salad, PAN ROASTED DUCK BREAST roasted garlic, five spice jus, corn and scallion spoon bread, JAPANESE BLACK COD, miso glaze, wasabi mashed potatoes BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER, Thai lemongrass broth, summer vegetables)
and went with more traditional Asian fare : CHICKEN AND GINGER DUMPLINGS, sesame dipping sauce, PAD THAI jumbo shrimp & LOBSTER FRIED RICE crispy scallops, Chinese celery. None of these dishes were particularly noteworthy. Everything was of course delicious, no MSG, not leaden with grease, woked to perfection. But you'd expect that, after all we weren't choosing the meal from pictures overhead and shouting our order through bullet proof glass. I suppose the correct term for the meal would be unpretentious, but I kinda wanted to be wowed, guess I should have gone for the Black Cod.
Why bad timing? Well, it's taken me this long to write a post. And our original reservations were for June 12th, the closing night for Executive Chef, Scott Swiderski, whose signature dishes like calamari salad put the place on the map. I imagine there would have been a celebratory tone to that evening. Perhaps we missed a ceremonial passing of the spatula to successor, Mark Hellyar. Unfortunately, I had to have emergency dental surgery the day before, so we postponed our reservations.
Then on the day of our rain check reservation, my mother was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. Rightly so, this difficult news made it impossible to care-freely enjoy this very generous birthday dinner. Thankfully, my mother's doing well in her treatments, but that night my appetite wasn't up to it's usual voraciousness.
Two other Philly Starr dining establishments can't wait to try: Morimoto and Butcher & Singer. Hmmm.... Christmas will be here before you know it, anyone looking to fill Tinsel & Tine's stocking with Gift Certificates?