An excellent choice for an introduction to Peruvian Nikkei cuisine in a laid-back setting with great service and an exquisite menu.
Nikkei cuisine is a blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines influenced by the intricate, meditative flavours and techniques brought to Peru by the Japanese immigrants with the spice and colour of Peruvian flavours.
Maido in the Miraflores district of Lima is the perfect place to discover Nikkei cuisine in one of Lima’s top restaurants run by renowned chef Mitsuhara Tsumura. Maido is a modern, bustling space with a minimalist Japanese-style décor – wooden tables, grey chairs and black walls and mirrors. The crowd is urban hip, service is quick and the vibe is laid-back.
Ranked 8th on the world’s best restaurant list, we liked the casual, busy atmosphere in Maido which is different to some of the fine dining options in Lima which can sometimes be a bit stifling. Wait staff were friendly and knowledgeable and we loved that excellent quality food doesn’t need to be in a formal fine-dining setting.
Some of our favourite dishes on the menu included the ‘cebiche de lapas’, a limpet ceviche served in a shell on a bed of yellow pepper frozen with liquid nitrogen. It was a delicious mix of textures and temperature and left the palate refreshed. The maido signature dish ‘asado de tira’ was heaven sent. Melt in the mouth beef cooked for 50 hours and served with a creamy potato puree was a strong favourite. So much so that we went back on our last night for more!
Each course was exquisitely presented with huge attention to detail. Chef Mitsuharu wants diners to have physical contact with food so several dishes are served without cutlery. The ‘choripan’ was served in a hotdog box. Unlike traditional chorizo sausage it was made from an innovative mix of fish and octopus served in a bun to be eaten with your hands and was a fun addition to the menu.
The sudado or fish stew was incredible with a slight smoky flavour that worked perfectly with the cod and cochuro or local seaweed. The sea urchin rice dish delighted the senses with the taste of the sea softened by the Chiclayo rice, baby corn and avocado cream.
Deserts were light and perfectly balanced the other courses. The reef dessert, smooth tofu cheesecake ice cream with camu camu and soy milk was a visual delight served in a glass fishbowl. It was followed by a refreshing granadilla sorbet served with lucuma ice cream and cacao pieces – the perfect end to a stunning meal.
The Maido wine list is fabulous and we particularly enjoyed the lesser known wines on the tasting menu which is also pairs some of the courses with some of Peru’s newest and best craft beers.
Chef Tsumura manages to make Nikkei cuisine accessible to even the most novice of diners offering a smorgasbord of texture and flavours that work exquisitely together. It was refreshing to find a restaurant offering such innovative, exquisite food without pomp in such a relaxed setting.
Best of Peru Travel Recommends:
- For a true culinary initiation, try the Nikkei Experience, a sixteen course tasting menu that will take you on a journey through Nikkei cuisine.
- If you want to read more about Nikkei cuisine get your hands on a copy of Chef Tsumura’ s excellent book ‘Nikkei Es Peru’ which comes in English and Spanish and is illustrated with fabulous photos of Nikkei food and it’s ingredients as well as recipes you can try at home.