Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Off the Map: We Would Like to Issue a Retraction

Dip Sum Doughnuts -- Buddakan, Philadelphia, PA

It should come as no shock that we are not always the sharpest tools in the shed.  Sometimes we get confused, usually when the bill arrives.  But we also find restaurants of the same name that feature different menus at their various locations completely confounding.

We're looking at you, Buddakan.
And Your Little Doughnuts, Too
Many months ago, we had ventured to the Buddakan in Atlantic City in search of Marc Summers's chosen Best Thing I Ever Ate WITH MY HANDS doughnuts.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, Stephen Starr serves different kinds of doughnuts at the Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and New York locations.  We had assumed that even though they had a different name (Zan-Ful Doughnuts), the ones in Atlantic City were the same concept as the ones Marc Summers had talked about in Philly.

They were not.  And they were also awful.
Never Trust a Doughnut with Corners
Stuffed with cream filling and the overwhelming taste of banana, the doughnuts at the Atlantic City Buddakan were a sore spot in our early culinary adventures. 

So here we are, to try again.
And We Don't Like to Give Second Chances, So You're Welcome, Buddakan
We arrive at Buddakan at the end of our Philadelphia eating journey, looking to sit at the bar.  Of course, the downstairs bar is packed with a crowd of revelers that we have taken to calling the Real Housewives of South Jersey.  We take ourselves to the bar upstairs, which is slightly less packed but still devoid of empty seats, and order the dip sum doughnuts.  Between the atmosphere and the clientele, we decide that Buddakan reminds us almost exactly of TAO.  It is "sceney" (a word Vodka is trying to add to the English language lexicon, like Paula Abdul accomplished with "pitchy"), and we hate a scene.

As we wait for our doughnuts, we have time to observe the various dates taking up the bar stools.  First of all, we decide that all of the dates are instantly horrendous, because if the guy were good, he would have reserved a table.  Second of all, we spend most of our time trying to determine which of the couples are already married, and our ring-spotting eventually confirms that the ones who look the most bored are the ones who are betrothed.
Perhaps They Should Order Some Doughnuts to Spice Things Up
One of the recently-judged couples departs just as our doughnuts arrive, and we cuddle up to the bar for Buddakan's second shot at It's Not Even Noon Somewhere glory.

And these doughnuts, as Marc Summers promised, are much, MUCH better.
Upscale Doughnut Holes
Our main issue with the Atlantic City variety had been the distasteful cream filling the dough.  These doughnuts, in contrast, are like Dunkin' Donuts holes, only larger and fluffier, but with no banana-flavored cream to disrupt the proceedings.  Spiced on their exteriors with sugar and cinnamon, they are almost better alone than they are with the provided sauces (blackberry jam, chocolate sauce, and gingered cream cheese).
Though Ginger is Naturally All Over Her Candied Cream Cheese
So Buddakan, we apologize: your actual Best Thing I Ever Ate doughnuts are not as bad as we had initially feared.  They almost make up for the random men (on their own failing dates) asking us first if we were VIPs and then for the names of Vodka's pets and other such "sceney" invasions of privacy.  Almost.

And so with Buddakan, our day in Philly draws to a close.  We calculate that based on our schedule, we consumed a cocktail approximately every two hours -- "a steady flow of alcohol" -- and a Best Thing I Ever Ate dish every 90 minutes.  While yes, Philadelphia had its definite moments of "Fail" throughout our day, it certainly had its winning moments as well.  And we have therefore determined that Philly, while never completely down for the count, rarely quite reaches the top of the podium either.

Buddakan's Dip Sum Doughnuts: 4 stars

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