Adventures in Eating & Cooking
I’ve been wanting to check out Buddakan for a long time, after hearing its rave reputation, so when some Stuy kids from UPenn invited me to come I just couldn’t resist. (Good-bye another $50… My fatassness is so unsustainable T.T)
We were having some problems with the reservation initially, since Mr. Honorable booked a table for 3 instead of 5. The receptionist was giving us a hard time about the mistake, which greatly disgruntled me. We had to come up with a Plan B on the spot, so the guys went to Amada to look for empty tables. Luckily, the waitstaff was pretty accommodating and got us a nice corner table for 6 shortly.
I was utterly unimpressed by the Kobe Beef Skewers as I have definitely eaten shishkebobs and Korean BBQ that is far tastier (and cheaper in the case of the shishkebob). The Thai peanut salad encompassed a mix of interesting veggies with strong herby flavors (like mint, etc.) I wasn’t that big of a fan.
The Pan-Seared Sea Bass entree definitely made up for the appetizer’s rip-off. The fish was cooked so that the meat was tender but became elastic when chewed. This allowed me to take time to chew the meat, taking in all the wonderful flavors that came from the delicious truffled sauce that enveloped the fish. The sauce consisted of a rich, shroomy oil base and salty, soy saucey undertones. It very much resembled the classic Chinese soy sauce braise method of cooking fish (that my mom frequently uses), only with more finesse. The maitake mushrooms on the side were rich and meaty enough to be truffles. And the stir-fry of haricots vertes and butternut squash were crisp and savory, although the dish would have been fine without them.
I can’t say I was a huge fan of the Dip Sum Doughnuts, as they tasted just like your typical sugar-coated fried dough, but the dip they came with were delectable: chocolate cream, gingered cream cheese, and blackberry jam. In particular the cream cheese stood out because it was sweet and refreshing.
Our friend Yan probably got the best dessert; he ordered the Passion Panna Cotta, which had a wonderful passion fruity syrup running down the tower of gelatinous sweet cream.
Oh and I forgot to mention that in addition to the Restaurant Week courses, we all split a share of Chilled Kusshi Oysters (since apparently Mr. Honorable cannot enjoy a meal out without them, haha). But these turned out pretty fantastic, if you’re a fan of ritzy seafood. The yuzu sauce was both extremely salty and sour, reminiscent of a fresh ocean breeze as I drunk in the oyster.
Speaking of drinking, we also ordered a pitcher of Zen-Gria for the table. (I personally found the play on word in the drink’s name very amusing.) The sweet nectar of white peach complemented the sake-wine, leaving a lasting linger of fruity scent in the mouth.
Perhaps the best part of Buddakan, however, is the interior design (I wish I could have gotten a decent picture but the lighting was too horrible). I really like the modern-esque with a touch of classical Asian styles of the seating arrangements. There was a nice glass pane with water flowing like a waterfall near the entrance and the dim lighting besides making the food less photogenic, gave off a trendy yet mysterious atmosphere. The only flaw to the restaurant’s layout is the giant golden Buddha statue plopped in the centerpiece. The pretentious, gaudy gold did not suit the classy-contemporary style Buddakan was trying to go for.
Well no matter! I can’t say I’m an expert on interior design anyways, although as a foodie I would say the hype about Buddakan is overrated. Don’t get me wrong; I had a great dining experience that night (and got reacquainted with some awesome people), but I’m sure (or at least I hope) that Philly can do better than this. We will just have to see what the restaurants have in store next year!