Budatai is a Latin/Asian fusion restaurant located on trendy Ashford Avenue in the Condado area of San Juan, Puerto Rico. First opened in 2007, Budatai is run by partners Francisco De Juan, and Chef Roberto Trevino. Chef Trevino has been a contestant on both Iron Chef America, and The Next Iron Chef. Roberto Trevino built his reputation in Puerto Rico cooking at El Conquistador resort in Fajardo and Dragonfly restaurant in Old San Juan. With a pedigree like that, the Hungry Native team had to check out Budatai on their last trip to La Isla del Encanto.
Budatai is one of those places with a doorman and valet standing behind a podium on the street, even though the restaurant is located on the second floor. While a little pretentious, the short elevator ride is kind of a fun way to start the evening. The bar and dining room feature soft lighting and a color scheme of mostly reds and golds, reminiscent of an old world opium den. Through the large windows running the length of the dining room, you look out over Ventana Al Mar (a public park whose name translates to “Window to the Sea”) where palm trees sway in the breeze and waves crash in the distance. The menu is broken up into many sections, with Sushi and Ceviche, fried rice and noodle dishes, salads, “Deluxe Dishes” and the “Los Dim Sum” menu, which is best described as a mix between Dim Sum and Tapas. We started off with a few well-made cocktails while we enjoyed the view and looked over the menu and specials.
The veal pot-stickers were both familiar and adventurous. Garnished with caviar and a sauce that contained both Asian and Latin seasoning, they were light but still very rich, a perfect dish to share.
The Eggroll de Butifarra is made with a Catalan-style white sausage also known as Botifarra. The filling was tasty and the roll itself was crispy without being too greasy, but the real star was the Chimi-Ponzu sauce. This dipping sauce combined the salty and citrus flavors of Ponzu with the acidity and bright parsley and garlic flavors of a Chimichurri sauce in a way that might not work on paper, but definitely works on the plate.
The lemon tart had a very fresh lemon flavor, with just a hint of sweetness to it. It sat atop swirls of chocolate and caramel sauces and was topped with a bit of meringue and fresh fruit. Since first opening, Budatai has been considered one of the best restaurants in Puerto Rico. With a gorgeous view, attentive and professional service, a wide variety of tasty & fun food, their reputation is well deserved.
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Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.
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