Barkada brings a taste of the islands to Edmonds.
Which islands? Several of them.
The fast-casual restaurant serves a mix of Filipino-, Hawaiian, Japanese- and Pacific-Northwest-inspired dishes. (We’ve got some islands here, too, you know.)
“Barkada,” by the way, is Filipino slang for “friends.”
I’ve literally been meaning to try out Barkada for a year. I invited The Daily Herald’s copy chief, Mark Carlson, to join me on the trek to Edmonds. We showed up at 4 p.m. — right at opening time — for my lunch and Mark’s dinner. Needless to say, I was hungry.
Owner-chef Brian Madayag, 33, who is of Filipino heritage, opened the restaurant on Fifth Avenue in 2017. Edmonds is his hometown. He grew up fishing off the Edmonds pier and graduated from Meadowdale High School.
His mother’s passion for cooking became his own.
“I grew up watching Food Network TV with her,” he said. “I’d always be the one helping her out in the kitchen. It’s a happy place for me.”
After earning a degree from the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College, he landed a job as a line cook for Dahlia Lounge in Seattle, which serves Asian-infused Pacific Northwest cuisine. Over the years, he transferred from one Tom Douglas restaurant to another, all the while working his way up to executive chef of Cantina Leña, a Mexican eatery, also in Seattle. Then Madayag decided it was time to step out of his comfort zone and open his own restaurant.
“The opportunity in Edmonds stumbled my way, and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to take it,’ ” Madayag said. “And here we are.”
Though the kitchen at Barkada is small, Madayag serves up a large variety of dishes. He changes the menu weekly. Before you go, check out the menu on the website.
“We keep our staples here, like the sushi rolls and the poke bowl, but we also have rotating items that will be forever changing,” he said. “When you dine with us, it’s like you’re fishing from the islands of the Pacific Rim.”
We chose to sit outside. The sidewalk dining made us feel like a part of Edmonds.
We started with the miso soup, a Japanese soup made with dashi stock, tofu and scallion. A bowl is $3, but it’s $1 off during happy hour. The soup set the tone for an enjoyable meal.
“It’s really good,” Mark said. “It’s a hot soup, but it’s not odd at all for me to eat this on a summer day. It feels summery.”
Next we tried two of the bestsellers on the menu: the calamansi kinilaw and the pineapple pork adobo. Both are Filipino dishes.
If you like poke and ceviche, you’ll love the calamansi kinilaw ($12). It’s yellowfin tuna ceviche, Filipino citrus, extra-virgin fish sauce, jicama (aka Mexican turnip), onion and cilantro on top of rice and pickled papaya. It was delicious. I liked how all the different flavors played off each other.
The pineapple pork adobo ($12) was even better than the kinilaw. It made up for the fact that I didn’t order a pulled pork sandwich at the Mariners game Monday. Barbecued pork belly was served with crunchy garlic, fresh pineapple and pickled papaya on rice.
Mark and I also ordered a sushi standby — sashimi. On this week’s menu was the hamachi (Pacific yellowtail), $11, which has a mild flavor and buttery texture.
The restaurant also has a tiki bar with a long list of island-inspired cocktails. I’ll have to come back on my own time to try those. Madayag recommended the Moscow mule and Barkada colada slushies.
Our only complaint? If you dine there, it feels like you’re having a picnic. Madayag’s menu is so well done that we though it deserved better than paper plates and plastic utensils.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
If you go
What: Barkada Edmonds
Where: 622 Fifth Ave., Edmonds
When: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
More: 425-670-2222 or www.barkadaedmonds.com