Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The Last Emperor
Last night I finally experienced the last of the colossal foodie trinity of what is Morimoto, Buddha Bar and Buddakan. And dare I say I liked the last the best?
What’s so unique about the latter, located on Ninth Avennue between 15th and 16th streets, is that although it’s humongous (a staggering 17,000 square feet), it feels warm and intimate. Bravo Christian Liagre, also the mastermind behind the interior of the Mercer Hotel. Monsieur Liagre has given the Meatpacking District the royal treatment of Chinoiserie with vast Chinese paintings and bamboo finishes, dramatic chandeliers in a cast space and a faux library in the basement fit for Louis XIV. Actually anyone who steps foot in the grandiose space feels as if he or she is an emperor hosting a private dinner party for 200. Indeed the restaurant consists of a multitude of mini dining rooms, which with their individual décor, wait staff and patrons, could be mini restaurants in a mega space catering to hundreds of clients under one roof.
“I feel like I’m in Boston Market,” one friend quipped. But the food was anything but. I’m still dreaming about the steamed edamame dumplings, creamy and delicious, served in a light broth. The truth is, the appetizers are where it’s at with perfectly crisp and chewy tuna tartare spring rolls, poppable beef and lettuce cups and of course the yummy dim sum. Our only complaint, small servings. But I guess that’s what you get when you have 260 ultra-hip, ultra-picky diners eating at the same time.
Final Word: Yes it’s Asian-inspired, yes it’s a monstrosity on lower Ninth Avenue but Buddakan actually stands out from the crowd. Note to Buddha Bar, be afraid. Be very afraid.