Appetite Gone at Buddakan

10 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Buddakan with my sister and some friends.  After my cousin called me specifically to say how much he loved Buddakan after seeing it as my facebook status, I was confident that we would have a decent meal.  The lavish decor furthered my feeling that the night would be a successful outing; it was imperial looking and very large. 

Because most of us are running out of money as a result of joblessness, we ordered lightly.  For the table, we got the duck and foie gras springrolls; the edamame dumplings; the taro and pork lollipops; the braised veal cheek; the pork lomein; and a greens stirfry.  Most of these were not things I was too keen on ordering, but as we were a large group that included a person unable to eat meat on Fridays, I didn’t force my choices as usual. 

As for the apps (the springrolls, dumplings, and lollopops), I was mostly perplexed.  The springrolls were good, but there was minimal foie (why not just leave it out then?), and the passionfruit dipping sauce was punishingly acidic.  The edamane dumplings tasted very odd–the filling was like a starchy, green oobleck flavored with Kraft mac-and-cheese extract.  Lastly, the lollipops were coated thickly with a pasty, starchy crust that was not appealing.  Overall, apps were a letdown, but they did not disappoint nearly as much as the mains.

We should have known that each main would be enough for one, but since the restaurant was family style and they brought one of each appetizer so that we could each have one, we weren’t expecting such individual portions.  Oh well–that was our mistake.  Still, taste did not compensate.  The pork lomein was no better than any I’ve had at mediocre Chinese takeout places near me.  In addition, the veal cheek was meager –served in small pieces–and got lost amongst the lomein noodles over which it was served.  It was tasty meat, but there was little present.  Also, it was awkwardly topped with large cuts of raw apple which had no connection to the dish.  Finally, although I don’t even want to talk about it, the greens stirfry was borderline offensive.  I tasted as though someone cooked up random greens, including broccoli and some tough-stemmed leafy ones and poured gross sesame oil sauce on it.  Its oiliness reminded me why I object to ordering out Chinese in New Jersey, only I was eating this mess in a nice New York restaurant.

Desserts held their own, although a chocolate and banana mille fuile had no impact on the overall satisfaction of the table.  My coconut creme brulee was good, although the ice cream that came with it tasted nothing of lemongrass and was icy.  Also, the lemongrass foam reminded me why many people have adverse reactions to the popular air in water dispersion–little attention was paid to creating a harmonious flavor, and the texture did nothing for the whole of the dessert.  The crying chocolate, meanwhile, was satisfying with its molten center, and my sister liked the plating. 

Service was not great; I noticed that our waiter never switched our plates out after appetizers.  Also, our candelstick, a tall bird, was covered in wax so thoroughly that my friend thought it was a fish.  That was not a great reflection of the restaurant’s attention to detail.  Also, my espresso did not arrive with dessert, and when I asked for it, a waiter told another waiter, who came back to ask me if, in fact, I was missing and espresso, and my affirmation finally warranted that one little sip of intense coffee that I dared order earlier.  Perhaps the size and lavishness overcomes the waiters as well as the patrons.

I do not have any desire whatsoever to return to Buddakan.  Although each of us only paid $30 total, I would rather spend $3 on a knish or a gyro on a street corner.  The ambience is perhaps not equal, but the flavor is a hell of a lot more authentic.  I suppose that I felt that the restaurant was a poor representation of Asian cusine.  I recently ate at a no-frills Thai restaurant in a town near mine with my parents.   Although the plating was lackluster, the seating was tight, and the service was iffy, the food hit the spot. 

 Buddakan, only a forcible return would bring me to dine with you again.

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2 Responses to “Appetite Gone at Buddakan”

  1. hungrygoat August 25, 2009 at 7:24 pm #

    I had a totally different experience @ Buddakan when I went there. From that, we can conclude that even the fanciest restaurants can mess it all around.

    Take a look and comment my review on: http://hungrygoat.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/hungrygoats-new-york-guide-buddakan-rules/

    Best regards.

    • getinmebelly August 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

      That’s definitely true–every restaurant has its ups and downs.

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