I still remember the first time I was walking down Chestnut in Old City and a tall bronze Buddha caught the corner of my eye through slightly cracked blinds. I immediately wondered what was behind the
dark doors and large windows, but in my jeans and t-shirt I didn’t dare enter. Fast forward two years, and I finally had a seat at Buddakan’s table for Philadelphia’s Center City Restaurant Week (and the crowd cheers). The food was everything I expected and then some, but I have to say what impressed me almost more was the service.
The first course was shrimp and scallop spring rolls with plum and mustard sauces on the side. It was an elegant change from the Temple-variety Asian food I grab from whatever place is still open after endless hours at the Tech Center. The spring rolls were crispy and flavorful, and not dripping with frying oil either, as they typically are at any of the local take-outs.
The main course was an Asian dish with a Southern twang: barbecue pork tenderloin with Chinese broccoli and onion rings. Everything about the meal was delicious, and all of the tastes on the plate went together nicely.
But then, oh my, then there was dessert. Not just any dessert, but “Crying Chocolate” cake.
warm chocolate mini cake was filled with chocolate syrup and accompanied by Vietnamese coffee icecream and small pieces of chocolate candy. As a coffee lover (not addict), the strong coffee flavor was the perfect sidekick to balance the cake’s sweetness and richness. The dessert was definitely the perfect way to end a meal and left my friend and I, both avid bakers, highly satisfied and dreaming of seconds.
Now, down to the service: when my friend and I stepped through the door, I’m sure the hostess could tell by our ages that we would be ordering from the Restaurant Week menu and not spending as much as their average guest. However, she greeted us with a huge smile and graciously took our coats. The wonderful service continued with our waiter who was friendly and attentive. The food came out at the perfect pace and we didn’t feel rushed to leave at all. Truly good service doesn’t discriminate; if anything I think they recognized this was a special occasion for us and were extra kind and accommodating. Rather than giving us poor service because they assumed we’d leave a poor tip, they treated us respectfully.
In a nutshell, Buddakan won me over by providing a completely enjoyable dining experience from start to finish. For a college kids used to rushing through a five-dollar food truck meal, Buddakan was a special treat and well worth the price. I would definitely go back for a special occasion and recommend it as a great place to dine with your special someone.