New York City's Buddakan restaurant is certainly not new on the scene. In fact, the uber trendy NYC restaurant made its mark in the upper meat packing district back in 2006. Buddakan has broken the American stereotypes of Asian food and decor and replaced it with a blend of European (particularly French) and Asian ideas and techniques. The restaurant's design was conceptualized by French designer (hence, the French influence), Christian Liaigre. Liaigre took widely recognized Asian symbols and architectural elements and gave them a slight makeover so that they seamlessly fit into a modern setting. Once you have seen the interior of Buddakan, it is hard to imagine that the building once was a Nabisco cookie warehouse. The restaurant has a hotel lobby welcoming and several different seating areas throughout the space.
The banquet hall is the heart of the restaurant with a long enough table to sit 30 and several other half booths. The ceiling above the banquet hall is excessively high with a row of large chandeliers hanging directly above the main table, creating an instant sense of drama and self importance to those inside.
The bar/lounge has very straight and simple lines and materials. There are no busy prints or patterns, however, there is a bright teal bouncing around the space, bringing these non exciting materials to life. The lounge has traditional Asian screens that are painted in bright colors to bridge the gap between ancient tradition and modern appreciation. These screens can also be seen from the bottom floor of the banquet hall.
Buddakan has many seating areas throughout the building, providing a more cozy and intimate setting for its guests. Beautiful Asian-inspired arches are used throughout the space as a way to define the sections in the restaurant. Red upholstery and large red vases add a pop of color to the otherwise neutral room. Since red is such a prominent color in Asian culture, it is the perfect color choice for the room.
Among the many rooms at Buddakan, there is library for private parties and events. The room consists of gilded books that illuminate the walls. There is even a secret door for VIPs to easily make it in and out of the restaurant without being seen. You have to be pretty important to need a secret door, but that's not to say I wouldn't want to use it.
With restaurants in Philadelphia (home to the Chef and the original Buddakan) and Atlantic City, it is not surprising that this modern Asian style and cuisine are so nicely paired. A restaurant like Buddakan is so rare that it is no wonder that after all these years the place is still hip and trendy.