El Bulli’s Ferran Adriá predicted that Peruvian cuisine will take over the world and rightly so, Peruvian cuisine is exciting, complex and multi-layered, from the usage of vast variety of native ingredients like the hundreds/ thousands different types of potatoes, corn and peppers to being under the widest range of global influence from Africa, Spain and Italy and from migrants. My first encounter with Peruvian cuisine was at Chicha, and even though they are pretty overpriced and some dishes are really below average, I LOVE the “Oh My Cod” (grilled skewer of black cod) and the scallop ceviche. When I heard that a new Peruvian restaurant was opening, I was excited to check it out.
Mayta transformed the space formerly occupied by blue smoke into a colorful Peruvian spot. Mayta’s menu was designed by the renowned Peruvian chef Jaime Pesaque whose rapidly growing global restaurant empire includes two restaurants in Peru, one in Uruguay, Miami and New York. His restaurant Mayta in Lima was highlighted as a recommendation for its region by 50bestrestaurant.com. Once we picked up the menu, we were busy checking out the many choices (reading the explanation of each dish) on the menu and with a bit of help from the friendly staff we picked a handful of savory dishes to start with.
The Solterito Salad was refreshing, appetizing and sumptuous; I loved the chewy, fluffy- lightness of quinoa and the chewy Peruvian white corn contrasting the crispy taro chips while the cherry tomato complimented the tangy and sweet miso dressing. The salmon chunks, the fava beans with their buttery texture and lovely nutty flavor and the stroke of creamy dreamy avocado mouse added richness to the salad.
Pan Con Chicharron was literally a party in a bun with layers of textures and flavors – the white bun reminds me of the bun used in Kong Bak Pau (pork belly bun) – the puffy, bouncy yet pillowy soft bun contrast the crispy taro chips and the fried fatty pork which was also crispy, tender and flavorful at the same time. The pickled onions and spicy, tangy and rich aji rocoto aioli sauce took away any hint of greasiness.
The Arroz Con Pato, aka the duck rice, served in a skillet. Fall-off-the-bone confit duck leg and moist pink sliced duck meat atop rice infused with Peruvian beer, dotted with peas and bell pepper. Rice was flavorful and cooked al dente while the duck meat was succulent and tender.
The Lomo Saltado Completo is a classic Peruvian dish stir-frying Peruvian meat and French fries, onions and tomato served with rice on the side. Mayta’s version was served in a wok featuring sunny side up and fat French fries on top of stripes of juicy steak which was first slow cooked in vacuum (sous- vide) and then stir fried with soy sauce, rice vinegar and tomato. Underneath the steak was Tacu tacu with a piece of starchy plantain in the middle; Tacu tacu is essentially Peruvian yellow pepper paste rice and bean fried cake.
When the Causas arrived, there were “wow”s all around, we were delighted with the beautiful presentation, triplets of different colored seasoned mashed potato balls topped with seafood. While they were a feast to the eyes, the flavors were not as impressive. The octopus with the Peruvian sweet potato was really bad, the octopus was fishy and mushy. I couldn’t spit it out fast enough =( The salmon tartare on top of the purple mashed potato was much better. The sweet, subtle nutty flavor and creamy texture of the mash offered a good contrast to the refreshing salmon tartare.
Suspiro de limeña, literal translation: the sigh of a lima woman, is a luscious traditional Peruvian dessert consist of silky manjar blanco (local version of dulce de leche or toffee) custard topped with meringue. While the manjar blanco was creamy and silky it was lacking intensity, in fact, I thought it was really bland. The pieces of grilled pineapple were supposed to bring sweet tanginess to contrast the creamy mixture underneath it but fell flat unfortunately. The olive oil ice cream was pretty weak, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was olive oil had I not read the menu. The only saving grace of the dish was the cookie, it was surprisingly and delightfully crunchy/ crispy even though it was buried in ice cream and manjar blanco =)
Leaves of Chocolate Caramel layered with pistachio cream with banana Ice cream on the side. The pistachio cream was velvety smooth and decadently rich with prominent pistachio flavor. The banana ice cream was quite bland too, it had nothing much to contribute except for the sharp coldness.
When the bill came we were quite surprised that it came up to be less than $500 per person where each of us had a drink (I had the pisco sour which was pretty strong). Given that most of the food was decent and that I liked the lively yet not annoyingly busy or loud vibe. I would go back to try more dishes especially their ceviche and anticuchos which we got too sidetracked by the other choices on the menu and forgot to order. Portions are generally good for sharing, except for dishes like the Pan Con Chicarron and the Causas which came in threes which made sharing amongst the four of us a bit messy.
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