The Madness Begins: A First Taste of Eau Claire’s Newest Asian Eatery, Teriyaki Madness
downtown franchise offers ‘Seattle-style’ teriyaki bowls
Knowing how Chippewa Vallians typically descend on a restaurant during its first day of operation, eager for a taste what whatever’s new, I feared that trying to eat at the just-opened Teriyaki Madness in downtown Eau Claire would be, well, madness.
Fortunately, when I dropped in just before noon on Thursday, the Japanese-style restaurant (420 S. Barstow St.) was busy but not crowded. There were no lines out onto the sidewalk like I feared (the fact the temperature hovered around zero probably helped) and the street wasn’t clogged with cars (as London Road was when Panda Express opened a few months back).
Inside the warm, newly renovated space the service was pleasant, helpful, and prompt, and the food options were straightforward – no menu-overload madness here. The focus is on made-to-order teriyaki bowls featuring chicken, steak, salmon, or tofu atop a bed of your choice or rice and veggies. You can also opt for a bowl with yakisoba noodles or chicken katsu, which is hand-breaded, fried, and served with a house-made katsu sauce.
Teriyaki Madness describes its fare as “Seattle-style teriyaki,” which means the sauce contains ginger and garlic alongside the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine that comprise the sauce in Japan.
I chose the Spicy Chicken, lured in part by the “Warning: Highly Addictive” declaration on the menu. The Spicy Chicken was, as advertised, spicy. Not scorch-your-throat spicy, but not only-your-Minnesota-grandma-would-think-it’s-spicy, either. It lands somewhere in the happy middle where it woke up my senses on a cold January day but didn’t make me regret not choosing something more tame. (And if something is too tame for your palate, there are plenty of bottles of sriracha sauce around.)
The chicken was tender and sweet, and the vegetables and rice that rounded out the bowl were plentiful. You can choose among white, brown, or fried rice, or noodles, or go all-veggie if you’re trying to limit your carbs. Vegetarians will appreciate the tofu option, which my colleague James says was exceptionally well done.
In all, the meal was quick, tasty, satisfying, and reasonably priced – everything you want in a fast lunch or dinner. While it’s no threat to legendary Chippewa Valley Asian eateries such as Egg Roll Plus, Shanghai Bistro, or Tokyo, it doesn’t have to be: Teriyaki Madness seems well-suited to fill a fast-food niche downtown.
There are more than 100 Teriyaki Madness locations in over 20 states nationwide. The new Eau Claire franchise is owned by Brian and Lorre Johnson of JCap Real Estate. Find them on Facebook or at teriyakimadness.com.