“At Sea, Life is Tastier”- Maido by Mitsuharu in Lima, Peru
As you step into the square office-shaped restaurant space on the 2nd floor of Maido, here in Lima, Peru, you’ll be greeted with a booming “Maido!” (meaning welcome in Japanese) from the staff. You won’t be able to miss the burlap rope installation dangling from the ceiling, a throw-back to Incan art and communication from the 1400’s. Depending on where you’re standing, the installation can appear as either the Japanese flag or the Peruvian one. But the rope ceiling isn’t the only art piece in this restaurant; you’ll soon see that every food item served is a specimen of artistic craftsmanship. Welcome to Maido, rated the world’s 8th best restaurant of 2017.
Maido was opened in 2009 and has been on the top 50 list for 3 years running. It’s a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in the Miraflores district of Lima, an area so affluent, it has its own police force. On the corner of a residential side street, the building itself mirrors many modern buildings in the neighborhood. It rises 3 stories in a square structure, surrounded by a high fence with a single plaque outside referencing the Top 50 List.
Metal straws will get your attention as they proudly clink sides of clear glasses and you may even notice trays of colorful, short glasses, offered to patrons for their choosing before sake is poured. While you may be offered the Japanese sushi tasting menu, the most popular option is the Nikkei (referring to Japanese diaspora, or those living outside of Japan) tasting menu, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine with 13 elaborate bite-sized courses. Each dish is explained in detail by your server, in addition to how it’s best consumed (“use the knife on your right to slide the bite onto your fork”). Courses are served one by one, each its own spectacle: a coral rock is served stacked with layered sushi, seaweed takes the place of a corn husk as it wraps around bite sized tamales, and Nitrogen-sprinkled tofu ice cream is concealed by a bowl of smoke as a second-to-last act. These are just a few items from the 13-course tasting menu. And the answer to your question is yes, this does take both money and time. We clocked our experience in at 4 hours. The price was a fraction of what it would be in New York, but at $160USD for the non-alcohol option and $230 for the alcohol option (which comes with 11 pairing drinks from saki and beer to white and red wine), it’s still more than my weekly spend here in Lima.
Time and price aside, you come for the experience and it doesn’t disappoint: each dish is an artistic masterpiece and each bite a unique design of flavors. My favorite dish may have been the Bahuaja nut covered cod, and for dessert, the chocolate ‘mussel’ filled with sorbet and served in an edible rock bowl made of grey sugar.
A visit to Lima wouldn’t be complete without trying one of the world-class restaurants it has to offer (Central #5, Astrid y Gaston #33). Maido had not been on my radar when I arrived in Lima, but I’m happy I landed on it. After all, who doesn’t like to be entertained with food?