I recently reunited with one of my good friends from college—Lara (aka Nimbo Stratus)—in Philly, where we caught up, balled out, and hit up an M.I.A. concert. We met up at the hotey on a Sunday and made plans for the night, which of course included dinner.
“So,” asked Lara, “where do you want to go? I assumed you would have already figured out all the best places to eat around here.”
Her question caught me by surprise. Yes, I normally would have something all planned and ready to go if it involved food, but I had nothing. Nothing at all. So while Lara jumped in the shower to get ready to go out I went to the Internet. Urbanspoon, a Web site I link my restaurant reviews to, is usually a good bet so I went there first. On the list of the top ten restaurants in Philly was Morimoto. Now that was pretty tempting. He’s my favorite Iron Chef, and I’d salivated over the menu at Morimoto a year ago when I scoped it out online. But then I noticed Buddakan on the top of the list. I was intrigued.
Lara and I looked at the menu together and determined that Buddakan looked absolutely amazing. So we made reservations, drank a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to pass the time, and headed out into the night.
When we arrived at Buddakan the restaurant was beautiful. We walked in and were greeted a waterfall, a glowing red dining room, and a radiant, gold Buddha. Nice.
We were in a little bit of a time constraint because we had to head out to the concert afterward, so we decided to just order a couple of appetizers and split an entree. But first came drinks. The Dream was phenomenal: Bombay gin, elderflower cordial, thyme, and fresh lime juice. Simply delicious. I love a good creative cocktail, and all the ones on the Buddakan menu looked incredible.
For an appetizer we decided to split crispy shrimp and scallop spring rolls served with plum and spicy mustard sauces. We also opted to try the edamame ravioli in a truffle scented Sauternes-shallot broth. The spring rolls were wonderful, but the edamame ravioli was out of this world. I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and I hope it catches on because the filling was creamy and satisfying while the broth burst with a delicate layering of flavors. Just to try the edamame ravioli is a worth a visit to Buddakan.
For an entrée we shared the lobster fried rice with crispy scallops and Chinese celery. I have high standards for fried rice having lived in China for a summer, but Buddakan delivered. The lobster and scallops were perfect and the rice was had that quintessential fried-rice tastiness without being overly greasy.
Everything was loaded with incredible flavors, and we definitely picked the right dishes to share. The portion sizes were perfect for the two of us, and when we finished we were both satisfied and yet not too full. The last thing you want before a concert is the itis, and Buddakan left us with plenty of energy.
The service was also great. All the dishes came out quickly, which was fabulous since we needed to make it to the Electric Factory for the concert. Unfortunately, M.I.A. was weak sauce on our tasty Buddakan dinner, but it was still a great night.
If you find yourself in Philadelphia and want to treat yourself to a lovely dinner then you should definitely check out Buddakan. They have locations in New York City and Atlantic City as well, which are apt to be just as delicious.