Truthfully, I had absolutely no interest to ever set foot inside Buddakan but alas, I did. I am not a big fan of larger than life Disneyland type restaurants. It isn’t about the food it is about this manufactured vibe being created by an architect, generally David Rockwell.
I admit, the inner room at Buddakan that has a long table created for communal eating or when the King comes to town, is magnificent. Around that large room is a variety of smaller rooms that when you walk around, you realize that there are many patrons.
One you arrive, they take your name and ask you to wait in the lounge/bar. Although I understand the concept, please enter into our home, it is a silly system. People dressed in black with note pads with your name on it, and I assume some type of description of how you look, peek around and ask people if you are so and so. It is as if they are on a blind date. Eventually, everyone gets seated.
The menu is pretty large. Everything is recommended for sharing. Appetizers to main courses and then of course desserts. The girls, who we were with that night (Josh was at a friends party) had done some research before and knew what to order. We stuck with the appetizers and shared everything. Nothing was stellar but nothing was bad either. It is hard to describe. Almost like fake food. Everything is perfectly displayed in its execution but it is as if someone is following a manual. Jessica said it beautifully, "there is no love in the food" like going to Little Owl or Babbo or even Morandi. Some nights are better than others but there is no doubt in my mind that Buddakan will never change. One can go back and back again and get the exact same meal they had before. There will be no "off nights". It is like the architecture. Calculating.
My point system is always based on what I feel like the next morning. I woke up in the middle of the night beyond thirsty with an awful taste of old garlic in my mouth. The girls had the same experience. I felt like I had eaten processed food.
Apparently they are doing great because the place is packed. But, for me, never again. It is just what I expected. In a city that has so many fantastic gems, Buddakan isn’t New York, it is a high end suburban fern bar.