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Monday, October 24, 2005



To Madoka yester-eve for a pre-theatre bite, that new place at 241 Winslow Way previously occupied by the PB Bistro.

Be not deceived by its sombre box-like exterior: the welcome is warm, service utterly professional, and Messrs Binuya and Gonzales have cleverly hired the best staff around.

I hadn't booked and even at 6pm the car park was full.

We were seated upstairs, which suited the eavesdropper in me just fine, the neighboring long table filling with a positive - "impeddyment", I believe the collective noun is - of big-time mayoroyalty

No names, no pack drill, but hats off to Ms Kordonwy for daring to wear such a delectable white ensemble to such an ebullient gathering of vino-swigging pols.

buskerFrom close observation, I see that La K takes after Busker Mère, able to move in such circles and events sans stain on garment or character, unlike yours truly for whom a solo dinner of omelette and modest goblet of vino in front of the tele rarely ends without mysterious and geographically ambitious stains from far-flung furniture down to my most intimate nether garments.

Loud was the fawning laughter, expertly camouflaged the toadying repartee.

I meant to ask the staff the meaning and derivation of the name, 'Mandoka'. My companion thought it might refer to some mysterious girl of lightning extreme mood swings, but that didn't sound likely for a posh nosherie to me so we agreed to differ and turned to the menu.

First off, the food was absolutely faultless, up with the best I've ever enjoyed.

The menu divides cleanly between small and large dishes and they mean it.

Too often having fallen into the trap of ordering a starter *and* a main course and then finding the table legs bending under the first dish, Herself ordered the wood-ovened BBQ Gulf prawns ($11.00) which were plump and succulent in a sauce of precise spiciness that I think everyone will smack lips over.

alThe helping was perfect starter size - four or five, if I recall - and so to Mademoiselle's liking that no sooner had she polished them off than she sat back with that slight pining look of the deprived urchin which was my cue to order a repeat, rather than have her sit there glowering as I grunted and splattered my way through my shank of sake-soaked lamb (a bargain at $18).

My dish fell obediently from the bone and it's a dish I'll return to on future visits.

The prices seem to be in that region - around the $10 mark for the petits plats and doubling for the larger offerings.

I'll borrow a menu and append full details anon. This is a place that merits full details on which to encourage you to give it a try.

I've worked onthe fringes of hotel and restaurant management and I spotted a steely expertise here in the choice of staff and their training.

Mandoka could be attracting an international clientele - God knows, it can't depend on the fickle *local* diners, who seem not to place faith in anywhere that doesn't require the tedious dues of a ferry voyage to wield a well-mannered knife and fork.

Staff: Impeccable. And with La Exquisa, Brianna, as pulchritudinous water-carrier, I guess worshippers of beauté now have as their itinerary:

  • Genial latte at Lisa and John's prior to
  • Movie madness at the Pav
  • Polished off by nosh at Madoka.

But make it soon. B. heads off soon to model for those lucky sons of Athena.

Décor and lay-out : Suitably and sexily low-lit - almost funereal, in fact, with bowls of candles along the 2nd-floor bar that could be destined for a merry sushi bar - but I feel for the upstairs staff over that lunatic narrow and curving staircase that scarce accommodates traffic of guests, let alone staff with their balance-act of trays.

Once things hot up - as they will - it will be hell.

Surely, a separate stairway for les serveuses?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, full marks, and I now have a local eaterie at which to confidently dine hot dates and with honour splurge my expense account in impressive entertainment of those visiting North Carolina head-office mandarins.

Memo to Michelin: Well worth le détour.

Post-script: Grab your November 2nd Bainbridge Review and read Tina Lieu's excellent review [keyword 'Madoka', and admire Julie Busch's fine snap of the maestros] of "A refined dining experience" and how the Madoka 'melds local produce with influences from across the ocean.'

Deuced interesting piece, and wide-ranging:

  • Backgrounds of co-owners chef Alvin Binuya and José G. Gonzales
  • How JGG woo'd Binuya and what José said when Binuya asked him what his Plan B was if he declined.
  • Good descriptions of the cuisine.
  • Essential data such as:
    • Open for dinner, Wed thru Mon, 5:30-10:30pm
    • Closed Tues
    • Tel: 842-2448 for reservations/further info.
Nice turn of phrase, has that Tina:
  • "Entering Madoka is like a study in textures."
  • "The double-height, rippled golden wall ... contrasts with the restaurant's space black interior."
  • "Overlapping spirals in shades of red and orange ... "
  • "Style and mutual yen for perfection."

    Smashing. Beats my 'sombre box-like' blathering into a cocked hat.

    Of course, it doesn't matter how stylishly one works the language if drooling readers finish the piece only to collide with some depressing 'Business Briefing' about that ghastly 'Harbor Squat' eyesore now adding to its 180-unit condos with 55 parking spaces for sale.

    On which point, good letter from Alfred Kitching on page 5, dishing it to the mega-complex and neatly segueing into why Nezam Tooloee with his "measured and proactive" approach "has the background, experience and record to move us in a direction that will preserve our quality of life while accommodating reasonable growth."

    Mr 'broad-based consensus' Tooloee gets AK's vote in November. As does he mine.

  • Comments:
    What were prices like? Inquiring minds want to know!!!
    But you can't vote...

    We don't need any more scandals like with the Governor's race.
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