We love food. We love trying new flavours. We have no allergies. (Apart from my stupid allergy to red wine.) This makes dining out while traveling quite amazing for Andrew and I.
Umami flavours, and seafood, are favourite foodie experiences of mine. So when Andrew told me about Nikkei cuisine, I was instantly in love with the idea, and excited to try it last year when we were in Peru.
There’s a huge Japanese population in Peru, and Nikkei is basically Japanese techniques are applied to Peruvian ingredients. And really, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense, that this would be a blissful union. After all, one of the main dishes of Peru is ceviche — fresh raw fish, “cooked” by the acid of lime. That is to say, both culinary cultures greatly enjoy raw or rare fish, and know how to make it shine (this is an understatement).
When Andrew told me we would be visiting a restaurant featuring Nikkei cuisine, I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down and clapped my hands like a little girl. (I get very excited about delicious food.)
And that restaurant… was Maido, in Lima, Peru.
We were very eager diners. Because they didn’t have a tasting menu, we requested sort of a tasting of Maido’s greatest dishes.
“Surprise us!” we said.
First, the chef sent us a delicate pork dumpling in aromatic broth. These surprises from the chef are some of the most delightful experiences. I just don’t expect it, and it makes the food taste even better!
Next, we ordered drinks. I’m typically a beer girl. But Maido was clearly the kind of place that creates craft cocktails. A pisco sour is sort of the national drink of Peru, but Maido also creates a coca sour. As we were scheduled to leave for Cuzco the next day, I figured I should go for the coca sour. It was quite herbaceous, a nice amount of acid and sweetness… what can I say? It made me happy. I ordered a second.
Then our first dish arrived. When raw fish is so fresh and presented so well… I could almost hear angels singing, it was so heavenly.
Then, I encountered my most favourite thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Nigiri, Maido-style. We were presented with five different nigiri, and I wanted to savour this moment forever. If I could stop time, I would’ve stopped it right there. Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Flat out. (Though technically, it’s five things.)
Next, short rib taco on a lettuce leaf. Very, very delicious. As if it could be anything else.
Next, these little steamed bun/fish sandwiches served on little boats. In my journal I noted that these were “AMAZING”. Of course they were. The crispiness of the coating on the fish was just right, and contrasted with the softness of the bun. This may have been my second most favourite dish of the day.
And then, the piece de resistance… short rib.
This is no joke — the only utensil they serve the short rib with, is that spoon. It’s all you need. It cuts like butter. And the taste? Out of this world. We were in awe. But really, it’s the texture that launched this dish into the stratosphere of deliciousness. Because when in your life do you encounter a short rib (or any cut of beef) that comes anywhere close to this level of tenderness?
That’s right. Never. Unless you’re at Maido.
And then, because we had so thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, we ordered one more dish. “Dessert”, I guess you could call it…
Why not try Maido’s take on ceviche? It was excellent too, of course.
We were so happy.
We looked at each other.
“I think this is the best meal I’ve ever had in my LIFE,” I confessed.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” Andrew replied.
This year, Maido leapt onto the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, right up to No.11.
We weren’t one bit surprised.
Conclusion: This is my favourite restaurant. The food. The service. The food. The food. The food! Love.