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Maido | Lima | Jan ’14 | “Nikkei delight”

5 Feb
  • Address: calle San Martín 399 (esquina: calle Colón), Miraflores, Lima, Perú
  • Telephone: (511) 446 – 2512
  • Website:
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sun: 1230pm-4pm. Dinner: Mon-Sat: 730pm-11pm.
  • Price (after tax + tip, excl. drinks): $135
  • Courses: (15 main/15 total) 13 savory / 2 dessert
  • Price/Main Course: $9
  • Rating: 18.5/20
  • Value: 4/5
  • Dining Time: 95 minutes
  • Time/Course (total): 6 minutes
  • Chef: Mitsuharu Tsumura
  • Style: Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion)

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Twiddling my thumbs on a lazy Sunday in Lima, when all the major restaurants seemed to shut down all at once, didn’t appeal to me. With a bit of scheduling jujitsu, I decided that the optimal way to partition my three precious days in Lima before I went to hike Machu Picchu was:

  1. Astrid y Gastón on Saturday dinner (it was not open on Sundays and Mondays)
  2. Maido for Sunday lunch (most permissive of the major restaurants)
  3. Central for Monday dinner. Later I added Malabar for Monday lunch.

Of the four major restaurants I went to in Lima, Maido and Central were the ones that left the greatest impression. There are two menu options are Maido, the Japanese set menu, where the restaurant conjures up an authentic Japanese experience, and a Nikkei menu, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion menu. While I’m sure Maido would have served good Japanese, I wanted something a bit more unique to the city – so I took the Nikkei menu option.

“Nikkei” is a term that means the Japanese diaspora. Peru is of course one of the countries with the largest and most prominent Japanese diaspora – former President Alberto Fujimori was the first leader of Japanese descent of a non-Japanese country, and helped to crack down on the Shining Path, which only two decades ago terrorised the cosmopolitan playground of Miraflores with a truck bomb. Today Miraflores is an semi-autonomous district in Lima, with its own tourist police force, 5-star hotels, and an excess of casinos. Its self confidence finds its way into some of the best food in South America, with Astrid y Gaston, Central, Amaz, and Maido all located within a tight 2km area.

Something that was interesting to me was to hear Japanese being spoken at least half the time amongst the chefs. This gave me an foreshadowing of the authenticity, discipline and precision that chef Mitsuharu Tsumura instills in everyone at the restaurant. The chef, I’m excited to report as a Providence-resident, studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, and then apprenticed at an Osaka sushi restaurant. He returned to Lima, and worked at the Sheraton Lima – until he was 28, when he struck out to create Maido. – [biography]

There were many standout dishes. The best was a liquid nitrogen ceviche tiradito, which was unforgettably served in a petri-dish. In every dish, I felt precision in execution, as if the flavors summoned in the chef’s mind, was being transmitted directly to my tongue, through precise technical skills honed by repetition. I’m a fan. Maido’s a must-visit when I next return to Lima.

Rating: 18.5/20

Memory: Pulpo al Olivo, Pejerrey Tiradito, Bahuaja, Temaki Sushi


“Nikkei Experience – The Third Reality”

“Life is movement. Nothing is static or absolute. No one is. We are in a state of constant flux, just like the Earth, the tides, bacteria, light, the blood in our bodies, colors, seeds. Like family trees, cuisines are constantly being redefined, their identities enriched by an intense intercultural exchange which has formed the basis of all civilization ever since humans shared their first sounds, products, ideas, and customs. Fusion cuisine is just that: cooking, an inclusive word that perfectly encompasses it all. The fireplace is where bloodlines merge, where people come to sing, individual and group histories are forged, life gestates. The fireplace is where dialogue is fostered, the elements meet, opposites attract. Thus was born Peruvian Nikkei cuisine: from a complex history called Peru; and another, equally complex, far-off and foreign history called Japan that merged to live in harmony and create the third reality: Nikkei Cuisine.” – Mitsuharu Tsumura – Josefina Barron

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The menu is cutely shaped like an olde Japanese passport.

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1. Pulpo al Olivo (5/5)

Grilled octopus, botija olives tofu and crispy black quinoa

Brilliant. Perfectly grilled octopus, crisp, warm, tender. Olive tofu. Cold. Textured by crispy quinoa. All three ingredients played their part.  A single bite, very harmonious.

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2. Hassun (4.25/5)

Whelks in soy sauce with kiuri and apple sorbet – Southern squid, wakame, Porcón mushroom in two textures

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Southern squid, wakame, Porcón mushroom in two textures

This was very good.  A visual pun on maki sushi, where instead of green seaweed wrapping white rice, we have a strip of white squid wrapping around wakame seaweed. Served amidst mushroom paste on a mushroom chip.

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Whelks in soy sauce with kiuri and apple sorbet

The sweetness ice of apple sorbet made the whelk almost dessert-like.

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3. Nikkei Ceviche (4.25/5)

Cabrilla, clam, camaron, tobiko, crispy yuyo

Especially enjoyable was hunting down those last bits of tobiko (flying fish roe) in the ceviche sauce.

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4. Paracas Scallop with Maca (4.5/5)

Paracas Scallop, maca emulsion, fukujinzuke, kimpira gobou

A fukujinzuke (Japanese vegetable pickle medley) soil with succulent scallops.

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5. Pejesapo Sandwich (3.75/5)

Steamed bun, pejesapo, tartar sauce, creole salad

A fairly ordinary sweet bun sandwich. Citrus notes.

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Liquid Nitrogen. Foreshadowing.

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6. Cuy-san (4.5/5)

Cuy confit with molle pepper, chilled harusame noodles with sanbaisu and rocoto.

Cuy, the infamous guinea pig, here is confit, packed into a spring roll, and served with a simple sweet dish of cold noodles. Appetising in its simplicity. Garnished with a single corn leaf.

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“Tree” times a charm

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Ceviche sauce with nori, chalaca, shichimi, cancha

This was a dish that was all the good and great of Maido’s clash of cultures. From Peru, ceviche sauce was cooled with liquid nitrogen in a mixing bowl, and put with nutty toasted corn (cancha). Slivers of pejerrey fish were served tiradito style, thinly sliced – the tiradito style itself being an offshoot of sashimi. Finally, topped with a Japanese 7-spice powder. Brilliant. A knock-out dish.

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8. Nigiris from the Sea (3.75/5)

Deep fried rock fish nambazuke – Smoked mackerel with yellow chilli, onions and masago

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9. Rice Tamale (4/5)

Banana leaf, smoked nitsuke style bacon, cocona pepper

This was reminiscent of many Chinese dim-sum lunches I’ve had over the years, so much that I thought (and still suspect) it’s a chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) style dish. A single cross-section of savory tamale, crested with a bit of heart of palm.

2014-01-05 15.42.02 2014-01-05 15.42.1910. Chupemushi (4.25/5)

The encounter of Chupe de Camarones and Chawanmushi

Sweet seafood surrounded by egg-custard chawanmushi. A pleasant seafood sweetness seeped into the chawanmushi.

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11. Nigiris from the Earth (4.5/5)

Cylinder duck – Crispy panceta – Outside skirt Wagyu aged for thirty days A Lo Pobre


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12. Gindara Pancayaki (4.25/5)

Gindara marinated in miso, panca chilli and yellow chilli, camotillo potato cream, crispy leona potato, Pachacamac greens, purple corn powder

Sablefish (gindara), if I remember correctly, tastes like cod. A quieter protein. Roast corn was done perfectly, like the octopus in the first course.

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13. Estofado Nikkei (4.25/5)

Nitsuke braised short rib, white fried rice with cecina and benishoga

Another quieter dish, here nitsuke – a sweet braise – performed on beef, with fried rice, reminded me of the Asian home cooking I grew up with.

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14. Bahuaja (5/5)

Milk, ice cream and crispy “castaña”, mango, cranberry, cushuro, mochi

A sublime dish. A sweet milk ice-cream with an array of delicious ingredients. No ingredient outshined the other – but the most curious was “cushuro” –

Known by its scientific name, Nostoc commune is a type of cyanobacteria, more commonly known as “blue-green algae,” although it’s not exactly blue-green in color nor is it a true alga.

These bacteria form colonies of spheres which measure 1 – 2 centimeters (0.4 – 0.8 of an inch) in diameter. The spheres are soft and watery and glow in the presence of ultraviolet light. Their green pigmentation is due to the presence of chlorophyll; their blue pigmentation due to the presence of phycocyanin. Additionally, the presence of phycoerythrin, a reddish pigment, in combination with the other pigments, explains why some are more brownish in color.

Cyanobacteria can be found in diverse habitats around the world, aquatic or terrestrial, and are characterized by their tolerance of extremes in temperature and conditions. They are capable of remaining dormant for long periods of time and can abruptly restart their metabolic activity upon rehydration. They are capable of carrying out both photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation, nitrogen fixation meaning that they take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form that we can utilize, a precursor to amino acids and proteins.

Nostoc commune is only one of the world’s edible varieties of cyanobacteria. Another, for example, is the “facai,” consumed in China during the time of festivals. This is the Nostoc flagelliforme(Takenaka et al, 1988) which grows slowly in the desert regions of northern and north-western China. – source

Cushuro was one of the most wondrous discoveries of my gastronomic travels in South America. It’s textured like a tender bubble-tea pearl, and tastes like mild earl grey tea. Maido perfectly incorporated it in a “Treasures” themed dessert.

The origin of the name “Bahuaja“. Another write-up from Comosur:

Micha followed the contemporary Asian dessert with a dessert named after an Bahuaja Sonene National Park, the rainforest in the southern part of Peru known for its wealth of biological diversity and, in more recent years, evidence of indigenous groups that have avoided contact with the rest of the world. The dessert used cashews in a variety of forms – as ice cream, milk and crunchy sprinkle – as the base, adding mochi, cushuro and tapioca infused with camu camu.

Some of those words evading you? Mochi you may know as the squishy rice dough that is often wrapped around ice cream and available at Japanese restaurants. Cushuro is a fascinating green bacteria sphere that grows at higher altitudes in parts of Peru. They have little to no flavor but feel like a mix between tapioca bubbles in bubble tea and caviar. Camu camu is a cherry-like fruit that is native to the Amazon, in this case the Peruvian Amazon. It is gaining attention for it’s supposed anti-oxidant properties. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the new acai in the near future.

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15. Temaki sushi (4.75/5)

Nothing is what it seems. The seaweed is chocolate. The rice, is strawberry cream. And those salmon roe… dessert pearls. Whimsical.