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completeness of the vision that the proprietor Stephen Starr, might have your evening be. Paris-based interior designers Maison Liaigre


To call Buddakan a restaurant would be a great disservice. Cosmopolitan mess-hall, post- millennial eatery or dining wonderland may be more apt, for this is the ultimate show-and-tell dinner venue. The scale is bewildering; 11,000 square feet of architectural and, lest we forget, culinary drama – Buddakan is an establishment whose style and brashness has struck, awed and


attracted since opening in 2006. What has become an institution of haute new Chinese cuisine presents itself as a pleasure palace of eating. The style, in spite and precisely because of its consciously globalised aesthetic is thoroughly New York . The golden Buddhas and distressed baroque furniture might seem rather prosaic and laboured were it not for the


whose mantra centres on a ‘comfort that does not lie in trivial affluence but in delicacy and rareness’ have succeeded in creating a place that is, quite purposefully, much more than fit for purpose. Buddakan is housed in a former biscuit factory in the city’s Meatpacking District where a typically, and enticingly discreet street front beguiles acres of mood lighting and flamboyantly understated eclecticism. This interior grand tour culminates in a great banqueting hall, three levels high and named so fittingly in the spirit of Franco-American exoticism, as the ‘Chinoiserie’. The restaurant describes this 35 foot high space as “infamous”, and here one gets the feeling of being on the set of a pre-war Hollywood classic. The muted tones even seem to replicate a sepia vision of old film opulence. A grand stair case, blond oak panelling, oriental screens and enormous faux baroque chandeliers surround (if not engulf) those sitting at the much-sought-after central dining table which seats thirty. The food, as if not wanting to be outdone by the temple in which it is housed is equally considered and crafted. Edamame dumplings, whole black bean lobsters or ‘crying’ chocolate fondants levitate through Buddakan’s spaces, aided by the improbable army of staff. The restaurant’s Rococo-meets-Szechuan-meets- Sex and the City-(an episode was filmed here) surroundings are mirrored in the menu. If the golden library or the Luis XV curiosity cabinets are not sweet enough perhaps a signature cocktail like the Fate made with elderflower, pineapple and prosecco might complete the oriental pleasuredome adventure. Buddakan, which opened in the heyday of the Roaring Naughties is as anachronistic as it is entertaining. In 2006 prestigious banks had not yet collapsed and globalisation seemed like a cash-cow as sacred as the huge gilded Buddha that dominates the humble diners. Times have changed, but good food like the great nocturnal follies that are built to serve it, is as much part of New York as the yellow cabs that stream past the restaurant’s entrance.


Buddakan, 75 Ninth Avenue (corner of 15th Street ) New York City.


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