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Philly Restaurant Week Review: Buddakan

       In January of 2013, cities across America participated in the Mecca of the foodie calendar: Restaurant Week. For approximately two weeks each year, the best and most expensive restaurants open their doors to college students, foodies on a budget, and anyone craving a great deal! Typically, restaurants offer a set menu that offers a sampling of their most popular dishes for $20 to $35.

      Some of Philadelphia’s top spots participated in Restaurant Week this year, which took place from January 20th to February 1st.  I had the chance to try out Buddakan, a Stephen Starr restaurant specializing in elevated Asian cuisine. After a rave review from a friend who said it was the one place she HAD to go to every time she visited Philly, and feeling adventurous and in the mood for a night out, I snagged a reservation on Open Table. While many primo times were already taken, and Buddakan seemed to only have 5:00 or 9:45 available, I managed to snag an opening on Wednesday at 7:45.. Not wanting to miss my chance I jumped on the reservation! Although some people might not be inclined to make the trek to Philly, I highly suggest getting out of your comfort zone. The trains to Philly are much more convenient than you may think, and you can always bribe a friend with a car to drive by inviting them to dinner!

       I arrived at Buddakan with my date a little early, wanting to take full advantage of the night out (and the cocktail menu). The interior was super swanky, dominated by a huge golden Buddha guarding over the bustling restaurant. Although it was apparent that the restaurant had crammed in as many tables as possible, the service was excellent from the moment we walked in and we were seated promptly at 7:45. The set menu (offered for $35) provided three options for the appetizer, main, and dessert courses. I immediately found some delicious options, however, for a picky eater or someone with dietary restrictions it may have been tricky to navigate the menu. I decided on the spring rolls to start, Sea Bass for my main, and an intriguing dessert called “Crying Chocolate” to finish. Although the menu was advertised as $35, the waitress convinced us to order a side of Korean Fried Rice for an extra $15. The extra side ended up being necessary, as the main courses were pretty small. But the food was so delicious I forgave the hidden extra cost. Besides, who could resist the lure of sizzling Kobe beef rice topped with a perfectly fried egg?

      Allie Chen, a senior at Haverford, also went to Buddakan for Restaurant Week and though the food was fabulous. She loved the place, saying, “I had the Sea Bass, which was on the top ten meals of my life. We sat at this marble table that was lit from underneath, so it was difficult to see your food, but we figured that our lack of sight heightened our other senses, like our taste! Overall, it was wonderful.”

      A few cocktails later and bellies full of decadent chocolate lava cake, we reluctantly left Buddakan in a blissful food-coma. Although the meal ended up being more expensive than I had expected, the food and service definitely made it worth the trip. I’m ashamed to say that this was the first time I took advantage of Restaurant Week in Philly, but I am so glad that I finally did and would recommend it to anyone at Haverford. There are so many different options for price, cuisine, and location in Philly, so next time Restaurant Week rolls into town get out there and try something new! 


Image Sources: www.buddakan.com

Charlotte Bax is a Junior at Haverford College and is majoring in History with double-minors in French and Film. She is originally from Santa Monica, California, but has also lived in San Francisco and currently resides in London with her family. Charlotte enjoys cooking, watching movies, going to sports games in Philadelphia. In addition, she enjoys traveling, surfing with her dog Cassie, and skiing during the winter in Solitude, Utah. After college, Charlotte hopes to start her own line of women's sports apparel.
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