- When: September 2017
- Male DINK Rating: 11/15
- Female DINK Rating: 12/15
- Total Cost: $392; Food Cost: $256
We were surprised that one of the best restaurants in the world (#1 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 and #8 on World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017), located in Peru’s capital city of Lima, is essentially a Japanese fusion restaurant. Now, admittedly, that is an over-generalization; it’s actually billed as “Nikkei cuisine,” which is oftentimes mislabeled as “fusion.”
Maido was our first of three dinners at restaurants ranked on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Lima (we also dined at Astrid & Gaston and Central). Booking was online, where we also chose which type of meal we would like (please note: only so many “Nikkei Experience” seats are available, so book early). We arrived at the restaurant and were seated at the counter in the dining room, which was the only reservation available for the Nikkei Experience at the time of our booking. To be honest, we preferred these seats anyway, as we had a great view of the food prep throughout our meal.
Once seated, we perused the drink menu and ordered a pre-dinner drink while we waited for our tasting menu to begin. Male DINK ordered the beverage pairing to go with the tasting menu, while Female DINK just tried a few sips of his drinks.
The Nikkei Experience started off with some Snacks that were beautifully presented: Seaweed tempura, sweet potato area, squid in fermented beetroot, and lime gel. Sushi rice cracker, avocado, trout belly, and ponzu gel. Aji negro chawanmushi. The beverage pairing was a sake, Taisetsu Junmai Ginjo. The first snack was very good and showed the Nikkei cuisine right away. The Japanese influence from the seaweed and the Peruvian influence from the sweet potato was a unique, but delicious, combination. The Sushi rice cracker was a nice and crunchy contrast to the avocado and trout belly. We finished with the Aji negro chawanmushi, providing a nice calm ending to the snacks.
The next course was the colorful Poda Cebiche: Sarandaja cream, mackerel, shallots, limo pepper, chulpi corn, and nikkei leche de tigre. The beverage pairing was a Peruvian beer, Candelaria Moche Loche. No menu in Lima would be complete without some cebiche! This was a delicious course packed with flavor. We were glad to see cebiche incorporated into the Nikkei Experience.
Changing gears a bit, the following course was Dim Sum: Squid and sea snail cau cau, camarillo cream, and crispy white quinoa. The beverage pairing was Stella Flora 2012. A unique take on Dim Sum (which we love), the noodle was black from the squid ink, set atop the camarillo cream and sprinkled with quinoa. A different, but tasty, bite.
Next up was Choripan: Steamed bread, fish and octopus sausage, pickled vegetables, Japanese mustard, native potatoes. The beverage pairing was another Peruvian beer, Candelaria Witbier. First thought, this looks very similar to the hot dog emoji course we had at Gaggan earlier this year. A little difficult to eat, this course seemed a bit off from the rest of the menu and wasn’t our favorite.
Our favorite course of the night was next, Nigiris: Toro with yuzu-infused quail egg, along with a bay scallop nigiri. The beverage pairing was Chateau Gassier Cuvee 946 Rose 2016. We’ve had some incredible sushi in Tokyo (especially at 2 Michelin-starred Harutaka), and this course lived up to that quality. Toro is always delicious, but adding the yuzu-infused quail egg made it a true standout dish. We aren’t typically big fans of bay scallops, but this nigiri was very good, and we were surprised to like it.
Moving on, another cebiche arrived, Lapas Cebiche: Chulpi corn, lapas, avocado, and aji Amarillo leche de tigre. The beverage pairing was Bacon Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Interestingly, the aji Amarillo leche de tigre was served frozen, but continued to melt (quickly) as we ate, resulting in losing the fun frozen texture midway through the course. We were also a little surprised to have another (admittedly, different), cebiche on the menu.
The next course was Catacaos de Camarones: Green rice tamale, sautéed river prawns, creole sauce, and chupe reduction. The beverage pairing was Manzone Rossese Bianco 2014. This was not our favorite course. The texture of the green rice tamale was very sticky, and the sauce had a strong flavor, which we didn’t particularly like.
The following course was Cassava Soba: Cassava soba, tenkatsu, and vongole dashi. The beverage pairing was Casar de Burbia Godello 2015. Served cold, this was definitely a Japanese-influenced course. This course was just okay, but that is probably because we aren’t really soba people.
Next up was Sudado: Catch of the day, sudado reduction, and seaweed. The beverage pairing was Emma Bonarda 2014. Getting back on track, we enjoyed this course, where the broth was poured table-side. Lots of flavor and very fresh fish.
And now for the meat course, Beef Short Rib 50 Hours: Camotillo potato cream, crispy rice, cushuro, purple corn powder, and black garlic. The beverage pairing was Follia IGT 2014. Giving the Nigiri a run for its money as our favorite course, the beef short rib melted in our mouths. The potato cream was delicious, and the other ingredients all found a perfect place in this wonderful course.
The final savory course was Sea Urchin Rice: Chiclayo rice, Atico sea urchins, avocado cream, wan yi, and baby corn. We had a sea urchin rice course earlier this year at Quay in Sydney, in which the sea urchin flavor was quite hidden, so we were hoping for a better experience with this dish. Right away, we could tell this would be more enjoyable, as the course arrived with a large portion of sea urchin sitting atop the other ingredients. The rice was a thick, risotto-like texture and was full of flavor. A very rich, but very good, course.
The first dessert course was next, Reef: Tofu cheesecake ice cream, bread sand, sweet potato; apple with wakame, camu camu, taperiba and burgundy grape tapiocas, and soy milk. The beverage pairing was Tinajas Virreinales Cosecha Tardia UVA Italia. Another course that jogged our memory, this time the presentation was reminiscent of a dessert we had at Atelier Crenn in 2014. A different combination of ingredients, this course was pretty good and was nice and refreshing after the rich sea urchin.
The final course of the night was Mussel: Granadilla with mandarin sorbet, mucilage foam, cacao nibs, lucuma ice cream, and raspberries. The beverage pairing was the same as the first dessert, Tinajas Virreinales Cosecha Tardia UVA Italia. A little heavier than the first dessert, but also a unique combination of flavors. A good ending to the night.
Overall, we thought Maido was a good meal, with some ups and downs. There were some standout dishes (the Nigiri & Beef Short-Rib), as well as a few that fell a bit short for us. Nevertheless, the menu was a great value for money, and the service was excellent. We would recommend getting a table at the counter to observe some of the food prep throughout the night. Even if you can’t get a reservation for the Nikkei Experience, we imagine coming here for some incredible sushi from the a-la-carte menu would be very enjoyable. We saw several tables ordering platters upon platters of sushi, and this is definitely the place in Lima to eat it!
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