by Melinda Gallo

Out with the old and in with the new

After visiting yet another apartment this morning, I met up with my friend Sara for lunch. She was sitting in Piazza Santissima Annunziata with her friend Luisa, and we decided to go to my favorite Chinese restaurant on via Guelfa, which wasn't too far away. While we were standing at the stoplight on via Cavour just about to cross the street, I noticed that the red lanterns weren't hanging outside of the building. I thought that maybe they took them down temporarily, but when we walked up to the door, we realized that it was gone.

The Chinese restaurant, whose name eludes me, was there when I arrived in Florence for the first time back in 1997. I found solace eating there alone and had come to be friendly with the manager. I was so happy when we returned in 2004 to find that it was still there. The same people were still running the restaurant and the food was still quite tasty.

We decided to turn around and walk toward Santa Croce to go to Buddakan, which is a new Asian restaurant that just opened up a few months ago. I walk past the restaurant all the time because it is on the street that I take to go to piazza Santa Croce from my apartment, but hadn't yet tried it out.

I was just telling someone the other day which foods I can't get in Florence and I said Thai and Korean. I found out to my surprise that the Buddakan restaurant serves both of them plus Chinese and Japanese dishes too.

We entered the restaurant a little late, around 1:30PM, and were the only customers. Sara assured me that the food was good because she had just eaten there on Saturday, so we sat down toward the door. The menus were typed out on paper as if they were still finalizing the dishes that they'll be offering.

We had a mix of different Asian dishes: involtini primavera (egg rolls), zuppa agro-dolce (hot and sour soup), anatra alla thailandese (Thai duck, which was the panang duck), pad thai, and vegetable tempura.

I was so used to my old Chinese restaurant where they know me and serve me all my food at the same time after the soup and appetizers that we ate the pad thai almost cold because we were waiting for the duck to arrive. The cameriera (waitress) wanted to take away our dish and I asked her, "Puoi portarci l'anatra ora?" (Can you bring us the duck now?) Sara said that maybe we should also ask for the tempura too, but I had forgotten.

The cameriera brought the remaining two dishes and no rice. I thought of asking, but she left too quickly. When she came to pick up the plates, she did tell me that I should've ordered some rice to have with the rest of the sauce.

The Chinese dishes were the best I'd had in Florence. And, I hate to say that I've had some of the worst Chinese food here with the exception of two restaurants, one of which is now closed. The Thai food was very tasty as well although I don't like shredded carrots and zucchini in my pad thai or lychee and potatoes in my duck curry.

Now that I know how good the food is at Buddakan, I'll definitely be going back. Maybe next time I'll try the Korean dishes!

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