Explosions of flavor bring old staples into a new light, at Buddakan in Atlantic City. Dim Sum for me has always been served out of rolling carts, some steaming, but always rolling by; served by someone willing to load you down each time around, my favorite part was the surprise in each bite. It was traditional, flavorful and for me always served the same way from one restaurant to another. That was until we decided to give Buddakan, in the The Pier Shops at Caesars, a try. Unbeknownst to me they served up a great Dim Sum, just not by cart or traditional flavors in any way, instead its kicked to a new notch, with non-traditional pairings.
The Starr Chef has twisted edamame and ricotta cheese (I think?) into sweet, soft pillows of deliciousness with the Edamame Ravioli, which are served in a Sauternes-shallot broth with a drizzling of steamed edamame beans and topped with sprouts. The shallots garlic & sweet characteristics complimented the Sauternes wine in this light but tasty broth. The heaviness of the wrapper weighed down the almost mousse like edamame filling which had a mellow nutty flavor. I dipped each bite into the broth savoring the sweetness.
Next to arrive were the Spicy Rock Shrimp Bao Buns, which had fun written all over them! The steamed bao bun was sliced open and topped with the crunchy sweet and sour Spicy Rock Shrimp, a pickled slaw, a slice of fresh jalapeno and watercress; and as if that wasn’t enough spice – they drizzled Korean chili threads on top. I was a bit skeptical about eating the slaw at first, but after another glance at the glamorously artistic creation, I decided to taste it all together. Gladly so, because I was thrown back by the eruption of flavors in my mouth. The spiciness of the sweet and sour sauce in the sauce, fresh jalapenos and Korean chili threads was intensified by the cold pickled slaw. The combination of the flavors made this dish dance off the plate. The textural complexity of the crunchy battered Rock Shrimp, the cold pickled slaw and the soft chewy bread made this dish my absolute favorite of them all.
Always in the mood for a great roll, we tried the Cantonese Spring Rolls. Each wonton wrapper was stuffed with sliced portobello mushrooms, chicken and shrimp, served with a honey mustard (chinese mustard) sauce. I tasted them paired together, but the horseradish taste of the honey mustard forced me to pair my roll with the sweet and sour ponzu sauce from the Mushroom Potstickers. (It may have been the same sauce from the Spicy Rock Shrimp served on the Bao Bun too, now that I think of it). The roll was fried to a perfect crisp on the outside.
The Mushroom Potstickers were perfectly cooked, crispy on the bottom and steamed on top. Each piece was bursting at the seams with portobello mushrooms. A crispy layer on the pan fried side played a great game of tug of war with the gooey steamed top side of the potsticker and I must say it was a tie! I enjoyed each bite with the sweet and sour ponzu sauce too.
Nothing to write home about were the steamed Chicken & Ginger Dumplings served with a sesame dipping sauce. The flavors were so meek that I totally blanked just now while trying to remember the flavors, so I’ll be back to try them again, posting an update for sure.
The bar at the Atlantic City Buddakan isn’t big enough to serve hot sake, but thankfully they serve chilled sake. The bar is a wee bit small, so if you go for Happy Hour (HH specials are limited to the bar area) you might want to time it just right, as the seating is limited. However the dining area is very nice and roomy. Romantic booths and long community tables fill the grand dining area, which makes for a great place to have a group dinner. Towering over the room is a humongous Buddha statue in a shrine that stretches from ceiling to floor. The red and gold hues in the room sparkle with the flickering candles on each table. This place is definitely romantic, but fun for friends and ladies night out too.
The service at Buddakan in Atlantic City is spot on. The food was delivered at the right temperature and it was always presented with the name of the dish (I love that in a restaurant!). Our empty plates were removed immediately, the food delivered quickly and our drinks refilled cheerily. We will definitely be back many more times!
The Pier Shops at Caesars
One Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic City, NJ 08401