325 Chestnut Street, Old City
(215) 574-9440

As required by Titles 31 and 47 of Purdon's Statutes: Food-Liquor, the Office of the Indefensible Nutritional Counsel ("OINC") hereby submits substantial evidence and incredible information that may constitute grounds for lawyers to sing, "Hail to the Chef."

Restaurateur Starr (albeit Stephen) has renovated a United States Post Office on Chestnut near Fourth, consuming nearly 1.6 million of his own pre-tax dollars. At 42 years of age, he describes this Buddakan fabrication as a "youthful indiscretion." You might remember Mr. Starr as the music promoter who was first accused by Madonna, in 1983, of having her cross county lines into Philadelphia. He's been involved in or owner of Grandmom Minnie's, Ripley Music Hall, Theater of Living Arts on South Street, Shake Burger & Roll in Ardmore and Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar on Second at Market. Needless to say, he's married to a very bright, understanding lawyer, Debbie Fleisher.

"I'd appreciate a table for six at eight this evening."

"Would you like the Pagoda Banquettes, which seat six, or would you prefer the onyx-topped community table to share with about twenty people?"

"Am I limited to Japanese cuisine at the Pagoda?"

"Oh no, you'll be able to order from Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Japanese anywhere in the restaurant. We serve the food of modern Asian sects. You might enjoy the long community table, as it's just past our bubbling waterfall of White Water, through a travel gate, and beyond a gigantic boulder we jokingly call Little Rock.

Hardly anyone looks your way as you enter or leave. Most patrons' eyes are transfixed upon a staged ten-foot Buddha lounging cross-legged among crimson curtains as a backdrop. Buddha's shirt is ripped open, exposing his chest and lower stomach. He seems to be contemplating, "Waist not, want not." His skin is golden, but one can only guess at the consistency of his secret surface.

Most curious, however, are the chairs at all tables. Their backs are the shape of covered Prince tennis rackets onto which have been painted black-and-white real faces cut off at the neck. These bodiless visages stare at you pleasantly throughout your visit, but remind you of the shortcomings of all those enclosed in anything oval.

1. Hot Eel Dice ($11.50): Sticky, steamy beds of rice provide underlying comfort for a quartet of plump cheeks of silken eel supplicants. Sweet vinegar permeates the fish, and slices of avocado dance around your platter in a miso sauce, delighted to mollify any saltiness.

2. Crispy Calamari Salad ($6/10): Only Le Bec Fin's Salad Lyonnais can compare. Buddakan's frizee greens are brilliantly springy and fresh. Hidden amongst the leaves, but for their abundance, are gorgeously browned, double-crisped squid circles whose breading has been touched by all Maylasian Spice Islands. Each morsel massages your mouth, making swallowing mindless.

3. Japanese Black Cod ($21): Anyone who fails to order this entree probably has the median I.Q. of the Judiciary Committee. I've tasted the best attempts at culinary creations of cod in Lisbon, Reykjavic, Boston, Fez and Paris, where one might expect the sublime. None comes close to the garishly glistening, lovingly lumped fish flesh broiled to a perfectly passionate portion. A fruity glaze is all that protects the filets from total nudity. A sidekick of grey-green wasabi mashed potatoes adds explosive bursts of biting and purring. Anyone seated near you may have to place a hand over your mouth to restrain the gracious groaning. Fortunately, Buddakan's surround-sound system is worthy of Souza at a rock concert. It declassifies every utterance as Asian psychobabble. The cod simply dissolves in a silky sable slip of one's tongue. A mist appears before your eyes. All other tastes vanish from memory.

5. Hangori Box of Assorted Pastries ($7): Tiny chocolate truffles, nutted cookies, little pies, a miniscule creme brulee, and perky petite tarts are displayed in a wide oriental canister. It's a precious dessert cartel.

Buddakan's wait- persons are angelically clad in white, attired in a combination Swami - Gunga Din - Spa Attendant - Genie two-piece pantaloon suit. Each is well versed in the etiology of every menu item, and testifies truthfully that the portions are huge and should be shared.

One cannot choose one's words with greater care. This restaurant is an event, with chefs of staff of highest skills, a cabinet redolent of international delights, and one huge Starr with no agenda other than to have his own privacy invaded by your taste buds. "Bill, please!"


Copyright 2004 Richard Max Bockol, Esq. Back