When restaurateur Stephen Starr first opened this stately pleasure-dome in 2006, New Yorkers flocked to gawk at the fake tapestries and Buddha statues; the grand staircase leading down to the "Chinoiserie," an enormous golden-hued dining hall centered on a long communal table; and the gigantic chandeliers suspended from its 35-foot-high ceiling. While the hordes still turn out to such an extent that the 16,000-square-foot space invariably feels crowded, many have discovered the real value of Buddakan lies not in shock but gastronomy. A sensual appetizer of deviled tuna tartare insists on slow consumption, while the taro puff lollipops are enhanced by a hint of ginger. Entrée highlights include an exquisitely tender glazed Alaskan black cod and a Szechuan rib-eye steak with just the right piquancy. Despite the Vegas aura, by the end of the evening, Starr"s real surprise is the reasonableness of the bill.