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.