Buddakan was on my list for a while and I was thrilled when Jodi picked this restaurant for her birthday (ok, I did not tell the restaurant it was her special day as she hates it when they come with a cake and sing...).
As soon as we entered, we were amazed by the impressive decor of the venue.
I am not sure if they did that on purpose, but they walked us all around the main dining room before bringing us to the table, allowing us to see how this more than 250 seat restaurant was organized.
So we sat at a table and I truly appreciated being able to talk without screaming to Jodi, until they started to lower the lights and put some loud music. I think that was the only negative of the whole experience. I should have known had I looked at the history of the place: it was opened in 1998 by acclaimed restauranteur Stephen Starr (Morimoto, Fette Sau...) who is a fan of music and decided to name the restaurant in honor of Nippon Budokan, an indoor venue in Tokyo where artists like Bob Dylan, Cheap Trick and Ozzy Osbourne performed.
The menu, crafted by Executive Chefs Yuang Huang and Brian Ray is Chinese, but with a twist. We decided to start with some appetizers. First was the tuna tartare spring rolls:
This was a very interesting dish, combining the lightness and freshness of the tartare that had a slight kick with the crispiness of the roll.
The second appetizer was the hoisin glazed pork belly:
The pork belly was served with soft steams buns that were very light, soft and slightly sticky.
And the pork belly smothered in this wonderfully sweet hoisin sauce:
What we did was to put some pork belly, cabbage and shallots in a bun, et voila!
Then, we got some entrees. Jodi ordered the wild mushroom chow fun that was succulent, the chow fun being perfectly cooked and very tasty, and with a nice quantity of mushrooms.
On my side, I chose the black pepper beef that was a ribeye steak sautéed in a wok and accompanied with a bird's nest (well more like a cracker than a real nest):
The presentation was amazing and the way you eat that dish is by mixing the steak and onions with the nest that you pulverize with your fork. This is a dish I recommend: original, the ribeye was perfectly cooked and tender. Knowing that ribeye is my favorite piece of meat, I could hear angels singing behind me after each bite.
As Jodi loves sugar snap peas, we ordered some as a side:
They were served with soy tapioca and mushrooms. Although I am not the biggest fan of sugar snap peas, I really liked that dish.
Of course, we could not finish our meal without any dessert! We ordered their best seller: the crying chocolate.
Served with a Vietnamese coffee ice cream, it was made of malted chocolate ganache and when we ate it, we could see it crying, the chocolate slightly dripping from the top to the bottom.
It might have been the most ordered dessert, it was not my favorite. The almond bread pudding, suggested by our waiter, was fantastic!
Served with a whiskey ice cream, it was topped with caramelized bananas and bathed in a butterscotch sauce. Imagine that Jodi, who does not like almonds loved it (so I had to share...). Not overly sweet, it was divine and I certainly recommend it.
After this feast, a nice walk was necessary. Despite the night club atmosphere, Buddakan is definitely one of the best Chinese restaurants for that category: the food was delicious and the service excellent. I definitely have this restaurant on my list of must do.
Enjoy (I sure did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!