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Few—if any—restaurants in Manhattan can rival the 16,000-square-foot Buddakan in terms of sheer magnitude and buoyant theatricality. And in a neighborhood whose eateries often get by on sizzle alone, the food here has real substance as well. Restaurateur Steven Starr outdid himself with this New York version of his Philadelphia original: the upstairs bar is a great end-of-day meet-up spot for pert cocktails and appetizers; the vast downstairs is like a dining hall in a medieval castle, complete with a communal table spanning the room. The kitchen prepares ethereal tuna spring rolls that are narrow flutes of ruby tuna tartare in a crisp fried shell, while edamame dumplings are light and delicate. The menu is large, made up of Asian specialties like black pepper beef, glazed black cod, and sizzling short ribs served with tender, wide noodles. Considering the droves of patrons, service is surprisingly attentive.
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