After a rain and traffic-filled 4 1/2 hour drive (yeah, I think it's a record) from RI to NYC, I spent most of the day Wednesday deeply consumed with a school-related interview/trail at the Food Network (where I was just offered an internship for the fall!). 5 hours into it, I had finished my work for the day, and spent the rest of the afternoon perusing shops at Chelsea Market, and then finally dining at Buddakan, also located in Chelsea Market (my car was parked across the street... this was a very localized visit to the city). Here are some of my thoughts on Buddakan and the Jacques Torres shop at Chelsea Market!
75 9th Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
New York, NY 10011
Buddakan, one of Stephen Starr's many restaurants, first caught my attention when it was featured in Sex and the City: The Movie, just as many non-New Yorkers may agree. It was the location of Carrie and Mr. Big's wedding rehearsal dinner (see photo above for the view from my table!). I remember always wondering where the rehearsal took place because it seemed like such a cool place, and when I finally found out where it was I knew I had to eat there, especially since I would be spending the day at Chelsea Market! Reservation made, I was set to go! I arrived promptly and alerted the woman in the reception area of my reservation, and she asked me to wait in the lounge and that I would be greeted shortly and taken to my table. I decided not to order a drink since I would be driving back to RI as soon as I finished my meal, and I've heard (through the grapevine) that drinking and driving is illegal, and also a bad idea. So yeah, I didn't get a drink... even though I really wanted one. I ordered tea instead. Seriously. It wasn't spiked.
View of the Reception Area from the Lounge
The Bar with Really Cool Artwork Hanging Behind It
Mere moments after I sat down in the lounge (and checked my Facebook application on my Crackberry, killing time), I was escorted to my cozy table for 1 with a fabulous view of the lower level where Carrie and Big had their fancy schmancy rehearsal dinner :) Okay, yes I'm obsessed. Moving on... to the food. I decided to get a few appetizers instead of having an entree. First, I opted for the Lobster Egg Rolls, which quite frankly were a no brainer. I mean, lobster? Egg rolls? They really are the real deal! I bit into one (piping hot!) and the piece of lobster was so big that the whole piece (which was running the length of the entire egg roll) just came out. I happily ate my now deconstructed egg roll with equal enjoyment as the put-together variety. Case and point...
Lobster Egg Rolls with Mint, Cabbage, and Sweet Chili Sauce $14
My next decadent appetizer was also in fried form, but this had a cold filling :) Very unique! For the Tuna Tartare Spring Rolls they fried the spring roll wrappers in a cylindrical shape and then later filled them with the tuna tartare filling. These were yummy as well! I love the crisp, fried exterior with the soft, slightly spiced tuna filling.
Tuna Tartare Spring Roll with Crispy Shallot and Ponzu $12
My third and last choice was the Scallion Pancakes with Braised Beef Short Rib. It sounded magnificent, but turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Let me clarify, the dish didn't taste bad at all, it had a nice crisp texture to the pancake with perfectly cooked short rib covering it and crispy sour apple juliennes on top, but the flavors just weren't as bold as I'd expect. When I pictured a braised short rib topped scallion pancake, I imagined the beef would have a very Asian-inspired flavoring, a special kick, but there was nothing. It tasted like simply seasoned short ribs, nothing standing out. They were also so beefy, that they masked the scallion pancake from standing out at all, and the dish is marketed as a scallion pancake first, and then lists the accompaniments in smaller lettering. Although I ate this dish, and didn't regurgitate it afterward, I wouldn't order it again. It just didn't stand out. There are SO many other menu items that I wanted to try and next time those will hopefully satisfy me more than this dish, which wasn't a home run for me... sorry.
Scallion Pancakes with Braised Beef Short Rib and Green Apple $12
In the future I really would like to return, decked out, cocktail in hand, and really make more of a night of it, but for my needs the other night, a satisfying meal and sustenance was a #1 priority. I look forward to the next visit, and there's sure to be more :) And next time I don't plan on having to drive for 3 hours afterward!
Jacques Torres Chocolates
75 9th Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
New York, NY 10011
Wow. What can be said about Jacques Torres Chocolates that hasn't already been said. Not a whole lot. I will keep this brief (because I have a box of chocolates to go eat). The prices at Jacques Torres are not remotely along the same spectrum as the prices of, shall we say Russel Stover? A tiny box containing 12 chocolates amounts to almost $20 with tax ($18 before tax). The joy that can be found in said box, however, trumps any box of Russel Stovers in the world. I am still in the process of eating my way through my choices, and I've made some good ones. All in all, I think a trip to NY would be incomplete without a little decadent treat in the form of chocolate, and with several locations around the city, you'd be crazy not to stop into one of them. I've heard that the hot chocolate here is ridiculously amazing, but haven't tried it yet. Perhaps next time. Until then, my chocolates await me ;-)
Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get...
Unless you have one of these handy dandy pictorial maps that tells you what kind of chocolates are in there! How convenient for those of us who easily forget :)