Scene: Buddakan vs. Buddakan
Where: Old City, 325 Chestnut Street; 215-574-9440.
Opened: September 1998
Size: 8,000 square feet; 170 seats with a 22-seat community table.
Designer: New York’s CMS Design, of Nobu fame.
Cost: $2 million
Atmosphere: A crowded, cacophonous mix of special-occasioners out on the town and regulars with loosened ties and sequined shirts.
Food: Little has changed from Scott Swiderski’s opening menu of eight years ago: edamame ravioli, wasabi tuna pizza, Chilean sea bass with maitake mushrooms and sake truffle jus, pan-roasted five-spice duck, wasabi mashed potatoes.
Wine list: Seventy wines (with 20 percent under $50) and a dozen well-described sakes.
Dinner for one: $67 average, with tax and tip, no alcohol.
Starr says: “People like Buddakan because it’s consistent. It has become an institution here, the way Bookbinder’s used to be.”
Can you get in? A party of four looking for a seven o’clock Saturday reservation will have to wait 10 weeks.
Buddakan New York
Where: The Meatpacking District, 75 Ninth Avenue (at 16th Street); 212-989-6699.
Opened: March 2006
Size: 16,000 square feet; 260 seats with a 40-seat community table.
Designer: Parisian designer Christian Liagre, of Mercer Hotel fame.
Cost: $9 million
Atmosphere: A high-energy scene, where black-clad beautiful people seem part of the moody, stage-lit decor.
Food: Michael Schulson, formerly of Buddakan and Pod, offers more elegant presentations of Philly originals, and trendier ingredients: short-rib-topped scallion pancakes, edamame dumplings, crisp pork belly, whole Peking duck, kim chee cauliflower.
Wine list: More than 100 wines (with almost a third under $50), seven sakes, and cocktails with names like “Sin” and “Sacred.”
Dinner for one: $55 average, with tax and tip, no alcohol.
Starr says: “We wanted to do exactly the same food as in Philly, but that’s been done in New York now. We needed a twist on the original theme.”
Can you get in? The wait for a Saturday night reservation is four weeks. Call exactly one month in advance, at 9 a.m.