When word spread about Buddakan, a practical legend in his hometown of Philadelphia, I threw on my hot off the Barneys’ sales rack miniskirt and scurried down to his Meatpacking pied-a-terre. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined he actually owned the entire block. Rumor has it this mega-restaurateur, Stephen Starr, had magically transformed a 16,000 square foot lumber company into a dazzling two-floor dining mecca where the Asian fusion sizzles and all of Buddakan’s a stage. A theatrical maze of candlelit corridors and room for every mood, his sleek palace was a feast for the eyes and mouth.
I don’t know if it was the spectacular forty-step staircase, wooden chandeliers, or massive communal table fit for royalty and of course, a princess like me, but I was ready to move in with him. Hell, I would’ve happily settled for being his mistress, condemned to a life of dining on silky edamame dumplings in the secluded Library, furtively shuffled in and out through the secret 16th Street entrance. A restaurant girl can dream, can’t she?
As I followed my hostess through the Lounge, I was able to size up my competition. It seems they had packed up the meat to make way for the models. I’d show this eligible bachelor, which girl deserved a rose tonight. I could eat half of these girls under the table and then easily come back for seconds. Clearly, they had no idea who they were messing with as they batted their eyelashes, sipping flirtatiously on Tranquility , a seductive elixir of vodka and lemongrass-infused oolong tea.
If I was in the mood to be social, I could take a seat in his Grand Hall at the city’s largest communal table. There, I would rub elbows with the ultra-chic and maybe even made a friend, that is, if I was willing to share the divinely crispy Taro Puff Lollipops, Cantonese spring rolls, or exotic frog legs.
But no, I wanted him all to myself. So I slipped into the romantic Red Vase Room where I got cozy on a bed of calamari pillow salad. Things got hot quick so he put my sake on ice to evoke its rich character. I loved it when he talked that way. I tried to play it cool, but I couldn’t hide my true feelings when he fed me a dreamy charred fillet of beef with mustard sauce.
When he asked me to stay for dessert, I knew this was it. I had died and gone to Buddakan. We celebrated over a heavenly lime tart accompanied by lemon custard ice cream and yuzu souffle.
Whether we spent the night together, a restaurant girl never tells. And just like Las Vegas, whatever happens at Buddakan stays in Buddakan.
RESTAURANT GIRL RANKS BUDDAKAN —
NEW GUY ON THE BLOCK — STEPHEN STARR
THE TYPE — ASIAN FUSION
DON’T MISS — A TIE BETWEEN TARO PUFF LOLLIPOPS & FILLET OF BEEF
DON’T BOTHER — DEVILED EGG TUNA TARTARE
RESERVATION — A MONTH IN ADVANCE
1-10 — 6
$ — A PRETTY PENNY
FINAL WORD — WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Until we eat again,