Peru has surprisingly drawn a lot of Asian immigrants, particularly from Japan, for over more than 100 years. The presence of Japanese immigrants in the country has given birth to a new blend of cuisine called Nikkei, fusing the cultural influences of Peru and Japan together. I’m always wary of fusion cuisine because the execution tends to fall short of the vision itself, but Maido in Miraflores neighborhood of Lima has been a lot of praise in the recent years for how seamlessly it has executed this unique mixture of cuisine, led by Lima-born chef Mitsuharu Tsumura. On my visit for dinner during my short stay in Lima, I highly appreciated the creative vision of the kitchen even though there were some hits and misses. As was my experience at Central Restaurant, I wasn’t sure if my experience had more to do with fit between my tastebud and the flavor and texture of South America.
There were two tasting menus available at Maido on my visit. I chose the shorter, 10-course Amazon Nikkei course (at 259 Neuvo Sol or approximately $80). The meal started with an assortment of snacks consisting of crispy chicken skin with pachikay sauce and rice senbei accompanied by regional sausage, roasted plantain and sachatomate emulsion, both of which were tasty bites. Other appetizers such as churos of river snails and paiche (a type of fish in Amazon basin) sandwich were also delicious and well-constructed in plating.
The biggest issue that I’ve had at Maido was in texture. Amazonic cebiche of river prawns and pejerrey (a type of South American fish) with leche de tigre (citrus-based marinade) had funky texture, and I was surprised that pork belly stew turned out not tender but somewhat mushy, as was the 50 hours-aged Sagyu short rib that came with egg yolk, cecina fried rice and Amazonic chili. On the other hand, I was a huge fan of sacha soba with crab that had pleasantly firm texture, and both “earth sushi” pieces (one with a lo pobre beef tenderloin with fried egg on top and the other with sweetbreads) were satisfactory too. Gindara with miso and sangre de toro potato cream was nicely cooked, but the flavor could have been a little toned down.
The meal ended with cacao dessert with yuzu, shica shica ice cream, mochis and bahuaja nuts, a solid but not particularly memorable dish. Overall, I thought the fusion was consistent in a sense that the kitchen did a good job mixing the two distinct flavors of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines; on the other hand, it was a bit hard for me to give more than 8.0 given the number of misses. Perhaps my palate wasn’t quite ready for South American ingredients and technique? It was hard to tell, but suffice to say Maido was one of the harder restaurants for me to assign my KenScale score.
Getting a reservation wasn’t terribly difficult, but the restaurant is quite popular in the city so advance booking would be a wise choice. There are a variety of sake, wine and cocktail offerings that you can complement your meal with. The modern décor at the restaurant is closer to Japanese than Peruvian, and overall it has a hip vibe attracting a lot of younger crowds (save for some older Japanese crowds). If you are inclined to explore what Nikkei cuisine is all about, Maido is likely to be a good place for introduction. I just wish there were a bit more consistency in flavor and texture across the board even though I did like a lot of creative attempts made by the kitchen for a harmonious fusion of both cuisines.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
Address: 399 San Martin Street, Miraflores, Peru, Lima