The first time we went to Maido we had their “Nikkei Experience,” a multi-course degustation menu. We saw some dishes go by that looked pretty interesting but weren’t included so we decided to go back and try the a la carte menu. (Getting in to the #2 restaurant in South America is a little more complicated than “we decided” but managed.)
We decided to try sashimi, sushi, appetizer, and a main.
For sashimi we had to have their uni, but they also were offering razor clams. I’m a big sucker for razor clams, and these razor clams were big suckers. Both of the sashimis were excellent. They we accompanied by fresh grated wasabi which was a nice touch.
We had two non-traditional nigirizushi. “Intruder” which is a torched foie gras with eel sauce and a toro with mustard seed. I always like foie gras, but foie gras nigiri has always felt gimmicky to me. Foie is so fatty and heavy that it’s hard not to be unbalanced. The sweet eel sauce was a clever addition to the foie, but did not help the heaviness of the flavors. The toro was nice and the soaked mustard seed did not overpower the other flavours but didn’t really do much to complement the toro. Both sushis seemed nice but unspectacular, perhaps we are the wrong audience.
The menu had two intriguing ceviches. A “nissei” and a “sansei.” We assumed the nissei would be more traditional and the sansei more “out there” since nissei is second generation and sansei is third generation immigrant. I don’t know about the nissei, but the sansei cebiche was amazing. A beautifully arranged circular tower of ceviche fish, then dressed with a rain of smoking nitrogen frozen leche de tigre. Liquid nitrogen freezing is often overused to add an otherwise unrelated dramatic touch to dishes. This was genuinely interesting pairing of molecular technique with traditional cuisine and it worked. Freezing the leche de tigre allowed it to cover but not smother the fish, and the chilled texture allowed you to experience the clean fish flavours before the sauce melted and added the acidic salty citrus notes. It was brilliant.
We also had the nikkei sudado. It’s a tasty fish stew, with crispy fish, served in a delicious thick yellow soup. Traditional sudado can end up with muddled flavours but these flavors were clean and distinct
I thought we should see what Maido was doing with ramen, but it seemed ordinary. I thought there might be something subtle going on in the broth but at the end of the day it was just ramen. Nothing particularly noticeable about the noodles or the chasiu, it was a fine ramen but I had hoped they might be doing something surprising.
For dessert we ordered another “ceviche” and an “egg in nest.” The ceviche was chunks of white cherimoya to represent the fish, sweet potato crisps for the sweet potato, frozen mandarine sacs to play the part of shrimp, and all dressed in a thick citrusy sauce to be the leche de tigre. It was clever and tasty. The egg in nest was spherified fruit juice yolk in a white creamy jelly inside a white chocolate shell and sitting on a chocolate twig nest.
I’m glad we did it, the third generation ceviche was a standout. The desserts were fun too.