Back in August, when H. and I were in New York, my dad’s friend from college, Narayan Uncle, and his wife, Indu Auntie, took us out to dinner at Buddakan. I probably wouldn’t have gone there on my own; Buddakan is a trendy, two-level restaurant with a cocktail bar, a room wallpapered with electronic, back-lit books, and another room where the higher wall is paneled with Buddha portraits. (I think there are two more rooms, too). But I’m so glad we tried it because we had a delicious meal filled with food that was a lot of fun to eat. We started with sublime edamame dumplings that just melted in my mouth, and the pea green colored puree inside each small pouch tasted as though it had been mixed with truffle oil, though the menu just says they are in a “shallot-sauternes broth.” Clever, and proves that anything with truffle tastes good, but it sure did work; we ordered two plates and polished them off. Next, we tried the thick cylinders of udon noodles, slicked in peanut sauce and topped with tangy lime sorbet. Maybe the sorbet was gimmicky and the combination of noodles, peanuts and lime is an old standard, but texture was the real pleasure here. Our order of charred asparagus with black bean foam tasted more buttery than I would have expected from a Asian restaurant and our spiced tofu and cashew stir fry with oven dried pineapple was an inventive dish that Hrishikesh (of course) loved. But the standout dish of the evening was the afterthought, the one that sounded most mundane: vegetable rice with coconut curry foam. It came steaming, its fragrance wafting around the table, a soft mound of vegetable-speckled rice alongside a thick and creamy curried coconut sauce. We lapped it up. Desserts were chocolately affairs that didn’t disappoint: the Crying Chocolate and the Chocolate Peanut-Butter Bombe. Oh, and throughout the meal, I sipped on a chipotle-strawberry cocktail that was smoky, spicy and just sweet enough.
Buddakan is Not that Expensive, despite its trend appeal. I would recommend going there when you’ve got a friend to impress.
75 9th Avenue, NY, NY
(Between 15th and 16th)