The Critics: LaBan Demotes 'No Longer Relevant' Buddakan

Carly Szkaradnik
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[Photo: Buddakan/Facebook]

When was the last time you visited (or even thought about) Buddakan? After a disappointing revisit to the fusion-flavored Starr stalwart, Inquirer critic Craig LaBan announced the restaurant's demotion to two bells in today's live restaurant chat. (The restaurant originally earned three bells when it opened back in 1998.) LaBan laments that although Starr was able to open a "far more dynamic, interesting, and up-to-date version of Buddakan" in NYC, the regulars at the Old City original reportedly push back against any attempted updates.

LaBan still gives high marks to the service and the ambiance, but that can't save the restaurant from the fact that "it really tastes like the 1990s in there." The Asian-fusion concept itself is not as exciting to LaBan as it was in the '90s, but perhaps the restaurant could've fared better overall if the food had been delicious:

But even by its own standards, Buddakan's kitchen was not at its best. Those duck dumplings were full of chewy wads of flabby skin (crunchy is better). The deep-fried spring roll tubes that hold the spicy tuna were less than crunchy (not freshly fried). The "soup" dumplings were virtually all burst before they made it out of the baskets. The chicken dumplings were rubbery. The lobster fried rice was so dry, it couldn't be eaten with chopsticks (not that many Buddakan diners use chopsticks…)

Ultimately, though he still believes the restaurant could be saved with an overhaul, he concludes that Buddakan is "no longer relevant in the city's culinary conversations."

Meanwhile, over on Yelp, Buddakan still enjoys an overall four-star rating.
· Food & Restaurant Chat With Craig LaBan [Philly.com]
· All Buddakan Coverage [-EPHI-]