Atlantic City’s Delicious Piece of Asia: Buddakan Restaurant

Article by Ka Yee Chan
Photo credit Niko

Looking for a mood-setting restaurant when you have an intense day at the casino in Atlantic City? Buddakan would be a great choice! It is located at the Pier Shops at Caesars Atlantic City. Buddakan is also available at the Meatpacking district in NYC, which is always crowded.  

Once you step foot in Buddakan, you are in an enchanted Asian garden surrounded by multi-colored archways. The 25-foot tall trees appear to grow into the ceiling where they create a spacious atmosphere. The clay tile roofs made it so that guests are eating inside the courtyard of an ancient Chinese village. There is also a gigantic, sacred, golden Buddha watching over the entire garden as if he/she is the guardian of the garden. The interior décor in Buddakan allows guests to enjoy the meal with a peaceful state of mind.

Buddakan Executive Chef Nery Hernandez

Behind Buddakan’s food is Executive Chef Nery Hernandez. The Chef began his career back in 2000 when he left Guatemala with the goal of striving in America. Back in his home country, he inherited his love of cooking from his mother “who raised him to master memorable specialties like charcoal-roasted carne asada marinated in scratch-made adobo.” Later, he settled in Washington, D.C., where he started as a line cook for J. Paul’s, and eventually heard of and met Michel Richard, and worked at Citronelle. Taking up a promotion at J. Paul’s, moving to Philadelphia, and becoming executive chef at Old City’s original Continental, his grasp of Asian flavors later led him to become the executive chef at Buddakan in 2012.

After you have been visually fulfilled, it is time to fulfill your stomach. Edamame Ravioli in sauternes-shallot broth is a great appetizer. It is very light and creamy. The generous taste suits many guests. Nothing would go wrong with this dish unless you are allergic to Edamame. It has just the right portion size as a starter and helps keep your appetite for the rest of the meal.

Lobster fried rice appeared no different than other fried rice. But the taste would probably surpass all kinds of fried rice you have had before. There is a great balance between the amount of lobster and rice. Without overpowering seasonings /salt, the saffron and basil brought out the freshness of the lobster, and also flavored the rice. Lobster fried rice comes in a very generous portion size and it is not a heavy dish.

Crispy Whole Fish (Bronzino) is perfect for one who always has difficulties eating fish, because it is boneless. Crispy Whole Fish is deep fried bronzino with Cantonese sweet & spicy sauce and grilled pineapple. It is served artfully on a plate with the fish tail curved up. This dish leaned toward the sweet side. If you are not in favor of sweetness, you might as well try other delicious dishes on the menu.

Having two seafood dishes, let’s order one with red meat. Let’s order Char Grilled Aged Beef! It is served with Szechuan fries and watercress salad. Compared to the previous dishes, this dish is more intense with its flavors and textures. Some might not be in favor of aged beef, because of its hardness and dryness. But more and more great flavors come out as you are chewing the grilled aged beef. Aged beef tends to have a remarkable depth of flavors. Other than the beef, the hot mustard on the Szechuan fries and red onions in the watercress salad add spiciness and excitement to this dish. This dish is really worth a try.

Aren’t we missing something? How can we not have signature drinks in Buddakan? Bonsai is made of Stoli vodka, cilantro and lemon-lime. Bonsai is almost like a Buddakan version of a mojito. The use of cilantro was surprisingly tasty and refreshing.

Fortune is made of Stoli orange vodka, passion fruit and pomegranate juices. Disregarding the taste of the cocktail, the name already set a good mood. This cocktail is leaning toward the sweet and juicy side where it is suitable for many drinkers.

One of Buddakan’s new signature cocktails is the “Devotion.” It is not even on the menu yet. It’s mixed with Bacardi Oakheart, Domaine Canton, muddled strawberries & orange blossom water. You’ve never tasted anything like this! The enchanted feeling that is brought by this cocktail cannot be described in words, you would have to stop by and try it!

Buddakan is an enchanted, secretive Asian garden where you can peacefully enjoy modern Asian fusion food. If you are feeling in need of relaxation, in space and taste, Buddakan is highly recommended.

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