UPDATE: October 7
Well, looks like as of last month, Madoka has closed for good. Sorry Islanders. Auspiciously, it also appears that Alvin Binuya has returned to his original gig at Ponti in Fremont.
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So as previously recounted, I decided to leave my urban comfort zone and wound up daytripping to Bainbridge Island a couple of weeks ago. The ultimate destination was a place called Madoka, a pan-asian “fusion” restaurant that I’d heard good things about. Chef Alvin Binuya (formerly of Seattle’s Ponti and Axis) practically invented the genre, so I figured I was in good hands.
The experience wound up being pretty disappointing. I blame Doc’s. And myself. I instinctively trusted that it would be great, because Kimagure Orange Road is pretty much my favorite anime of all time, and the main character is named Madoka. +5 shame points.
For starters, we ordered a duck & pepperjack cheese quesadilla with smoked poblano salsa and a bowl of watermelon gazpacho. Both were nice enough with some subtle heat. Unfortunately, the duck was completely lost under the much stronger flavors of the quesadilla – it could just as easily have been tofu for all I know. For the main course I had a yellowtail tataki that was equally underwhelming – the fish was fresh, but that’s about it. The bok choy on the side was actually more interesting, and all it had going for it was a simple tamari sauce. The fish was served cold with a side of piping hot beets, which clashed on the plate, on my palette, and with the universe at large.
Neither wine they recommend paired well, a local Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Gris from Oregon (I actually had to send the first one back because there was a considerable amount of sediment in the bottom of my glass… that could very well be the first time I’ve ever done that). My partner’s salmon was good-not-great, served with the skin-side of the filet plated ON TOP of the accompanying greens (scales what?), and the side of yukon gold potato purée tasted like baby food. After eating a bite of the salmon, I think my exact quote was: “Criminal”.
Lord now that I look back, it was actually worse than I thought. So odd considering that this was supposedly the place to go on the island. Binuya was in the house, so I can’t really fall back on an off-crew as an excuse. Given my experience traveling around the Puget Sound, it’s probably safe to say that island people simply judge things differently. But then, maybe I’m just being an islandist.
I will compliment them on the space – it was gorgeous. Bi-level, cool and dark and modern with Japanese accents. Romantic and comfortable, with a view of the open kitchen so you can watch the chefs at work (which I love to do).
I wouldn’t go back. For that matter, I don’t really feel like I have much use for Bainbridge Island. Skip it.