Buddakan to be AVOIDED
I went for an early dinner Saturday night at Buddakan. I was really excited to try this place, as my friend always raves about the original location in Philly. The space was fantastic, very dramatic and cavernous. My friend and I started off with some very nice cocktails, which unfortunatly would be the only motivating factor to ever get me back to this place. We orderd a few appetizers to start, figuring we would have a "lingering, slow" dinner and order entrees based on how hungry we still were after the appetizers. We started with the tuna spring rolls, the edamame dumplings, taro puff lolipops, the rock shrimp & scallion pancakes. The tuna rolls were very good, the tuna buttery and fresh. But the portion, 3 very small, skinny rolls for $12 was ridiculous. I was aware that the prices were on the high end, which I don't mind if the food commiserates with the price. At Buddakan, it does not. The edamame dumplings were interesting, though the broth was too watery. They would have been better with a thicker broth or sauce. The rock shrimp, taro puffs, and scallion pancakes were all TERRIBLY SALTY, as in inedible. When the waitress came to take the plates away these 3 dishes were virtually untouched. I offered up the reason we barely touched the food and the waitress dismissed my dissatisfaction by saying "Well, Asian food tends to be salty". I mean, clearly I understand that and I actually tolerate salt quite well, but there is a big difference between good salt and very, very bad salty food.
With so many great restaurants in NY, it's always a bummer having a subpar dining experience. Buddakan itself was really stunning, but when you sit down and your focus is on the food, all the glitz and glamour really doesn't count for much. Go for drinks, but skip the food. It's just not worth it.
I went on a Saturday night on the early side (around 7) and had a great experience. The waitress was surprisingly pleasant and helpful - I would expect more attitude at a place like that. Food was not cheap but not too bad - we had about 3 appetizers and shared an entree and a dessert and it was plenty (and we are big eaters) - it seems like the OP ordered a lot more. We got enough of the "scene" for our taste while still getting out of there before it became overrun by the beautiful people. I strongly recommend it.
Buddakan is definitely more scene than food, but I enjoyed my meal there. It wasn't transcendent by any stretch of the imagination, but it was tasty and served in a really great-looking fun room. The taro puff lollipops were delicious and the tea chicken was also a high point.
Wine list is also pretty good. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a night of excellent people watching and partying and decent food.