Madame Butterfly
425 SW Stark, 525-0033

Ever do that thing where you leave on a weekend night and forget to eat dinner? This inevitably leads to finding yourself in some bar a few hours later, drunk, and passing out from hunger. In this circumstance, you usually resign to eating an entire bowl of bar-provided popcorn. But depending on your tolerance for carbohydrates, this can only happen so often before you want something more...

That's why, when you find yourself in this situation, head directly to Madame Butterfly. Madame B's bar menu, served from 10-2, offers a nutritious and far more fashionable alternative to Taco Bell.

The restaurant, which is only a few months old, serves Japanese-French fusion. I am normally skeptical of trendy fusion food, but the menu sticks to the basics and doesn't try to blend the unblendable. There are a number of standard sushi rolls available: California, Shrimp, Eel, and Spider. And the only slightly fusion-y roll, the Asparagus Roll (asparagus, tempura, cream cheese, and garlic) is saved by the fact that it's not too complicated.

The other items are equally simple and fun; yakisoba noodles, steamed shumai, ramen noodles, steamed pot stickers, and the beef stick rice bowl are all pleasing. The yakisoba, for example, is a medium-sized plate of hot noodles, which are stir-fried with chunks of tender chicken and steamed cabbage and carrots. It's not too greasy, and the overall dish has a tangy, sweet flavor.

But the Kushikatsu is the definitely best item on the menu. Chicken, pork, and fish are breaded, fried to a light crisp, and served on a stick. A thick coat of sesame seeds covers the very outer layer, and all of the meat is fresh and juicy. The menu also features about ten innovative drinks, including the Icy Moon (frozen sake with peach nectar), all of which are delicate and balanced, and many involving sake and a variety of fruit juices.

Madame B. offers a much more comprehensive menu for lunch and dinner, which is another topic entirely. On the late nights, however, when you're sober enough to taste your food, treat yourself to the divinely cheap version of M.B.