The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Buddakan: Restaurant as celeb? Or am I nuts?

Aaaah the meatpacking district, now home to so many flashy, enormous pleasure palaces. I HEAR. Needless to say…

I tend to hang out in Brooklyn.

Buddakan is the big fat baby of Stephen Starr, who just stepped off the boat from Philly with rolls of blueprints under his arms and a passion for the diversionary needs of fancy young New Yorkers. For some reason I keep picturing Governor Ratcliffe from Disney’s Pocahontas.

Alright, OK, I’m getting a little out of hand here. Maybe they don’t just hire sluts. As for the food, Frank actually liked it. As for Frank’s language, I couldn’t help but feel like much of what he said about the restaurant itself could also be applied to the world of the rich and famous that often circulates in the meatpacking district.

The Count makes Buddakan sound like a sexy celebrity who could get by on her yams alone, but who happens to crochet strategic maps of the Balkans into her thongs and play lots of chess:

“…the real surprise is how good many of Buddakan's alternately faithful and fanciful interpretations of [Chinese cuisine] are. A restaurant this sexy doesn't need to be smart.”

“Buddakan is the apotheosis, at least for the next 60 seconds, of a distinct genre: the post-millennial urban mess hall as supersize cocktail lounge with superstylized dishes, which chart a far-out trip to the Far East.”

Lordy. “Supersized,” “superstylized,” and “far-out trip.” Brought to you by Bill and Ted’s California Press Releases, Inc.

“Fuckin’ rad and kinda Asian!”

“[Buddakan’s ]chef, Michael Schulson, breathes intelligence and creativity into it.” His mao poe tofu is Frank’s prime example: “Cubes of silky bean curd act as crucial moments of calm in a wet, fiery mix of garlic, Thai chili peppers and, well, minced pork. If you want tofu to bust loose like this, you have to give it meat as well as heat.”

Photoshop is to me as scissors are to Edward Scissorhands: a blessing and a curse.

Not everything at Buddakan was as stellar as the tofu: “that's the thing about Buddakan — more than a few losers keep company with the many winners.” See? Just like the world of celebrities!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Haylie Duff! Oops, please hold, I’ve got Kristen Cavallieri on line 2.

Frank concludes with some wisdom that to me seems charmingly self-aware.
Again recalling many of the platitudes about Hollywood, “Buddakan won't please diners of all ages equally. It's better suited to the young, and its own youth is crucial to its appeal.”

Buddakan’s place in Captain Starr’s spanking new roster is a draw for sure, and it’s true that no matter how good the spare ribs or the tofu, it’s probably not your first choice for parents-in-town fare. But Frank intends this youth comment in another way, too: the flashiness seems to turn tacky if you squint and look real hard:

“Restaurants like this tend to look junky upon fifth or sixth inspection, and it's hard to believe this kitchen, serving so many diners at such a fleet pace, won't show signs of strain over time.”




Those Olsen twins are really out of control. Zing!

OK, I’m done with my extended metaphor. But don’t worry, more can surely be found in next week’s Dining Out!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even half phoning it in on some arbitrary belated deadline you set for yourself, you're tops.

8:31 PM, May 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a request for a visual for Bruni's description of Buddakan's "heat" cocktail:

"it's like a margarita with martial arts training"

Come on, Jules!!

9:01 PM, May 03, 2006  
Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

celeb nuts?

1:18 AM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Former Buddakan Employee said...

A friend of mine (he too has a blog all his very own) turned me on to yours. I must say I think it's refreshing and hysterical but as a former Buddakan employee, I'd like to clear my recently bequeathed slut status! Have you ever even been in there and seen the staff and the uniforms? You might want to do some investigative reporting before you go around calling anyone that works within the realms of 13th - 19th St. b/t 9th and 11th a slut. Reading your column was nice while it lasted.

12:05 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

No no, Former Employee, I have not seen the place first hand. I made it up entirely. But then I said I made it up entirely, so don't be offended, Virtue McTurtleneck.

P.S., out of curiosity: Quit or fired, Former?

4:15 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish somebody would call me a slut!

3:24 PM, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only I could get MY tofu to bust loose like that I'd never leave home...

4:18 PM, June 01, 2006  

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