Our trip to Peru gave us the chance to try a style of food that is hard to find back home. However, for us, one of Peru’s most notable cuisines is a fusion of new and familiar. Maido, recently named the best restaurant in Latin America for the 2nd consecutive year, brings together Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. At first this may seem an odd pairing, but when you think about the two food cultures they share many similarities, including an intense focus on local ingredients. This was our last, and by far our favorite, meal during our Peruvian adventure.

Given it’s notoriety, Maido is very popular. Luckily for those traveling to Lima, the restaurant offers the same menu at both lunch and dinner services, maximizing the number of available reservations. We dined here for lunch and the restaurant was still fully booked even at 2:30pm. For those that do get a coveted table, Maido offers the ultimate exploration of “Nikkei” cuisine (“Nikkei” is the local moniker given to the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food). You can order ala carte, but we had come to try the tasting menu.

Snacks – Sandwich of avocado, crispy chicken skin, egg, and bacon. Amazonic sausage, roasted banana, and ponzu on a black cracker. Aji negro chawanmushi

Three small bites appear at the table for the first course. The concentration of flavors and the merging of Peruvian and Japanese immediately delight our palates. These bites, like much of the menu, were new experiences yet somehow familiar. My only wish would have been for the chawanmushi to be warm.

Poda ceviche – Sarandaja cream, mackerel, shallots, aji limo, chulpi corn, nikkei leche de tigre

The land of ceviche continues to provide us with variations of the classic Peruvian dish. This was a refined presentation, with a perfect balance of citrus, spice, and luxuriousness. The crunch of the corn-nut like preparation of the Peruvian corn was a welcomed change from other ceviches we tried during our trip.

Chicharron sandwich – Steamed buns, pork belly, kimchee emulsion, creole sauce

This small plate was the most visually familiar, essentially a sandwich version of pork belly bao. The flavors rang much closer to Asian influences than Peruvian with a big burst of umami and an undercurrent of sweet and spicy. The pork belly’s texture was luscious, cooked to perfection.

Sudado – Catch of the day (paiche), sudado reduction, seaweed

Sudado, or a “sweat stew”, is a fairly traditional dish in Latin America. Maido ups the ante by intensifying the flavors of this sudado through reduction. Paiche, a fish found in Amazon rivers, has a substantial almost meat-like texture. The flavor of the fish and the strong ocean flavor of seaweed hold their own against the concentrated sudado. I found myself trying to spoon every last drop I could.

Cuy – Cauliflower cream, garlic rocoto cream, torikara sauce, pachacamac greens

Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) exotic ingredient in Peru for daring travelers is cuy, or guinea pig. Earlier in our trip I had eaten an alpaca steak, but did not yet have a chance or desire to order cuy. The cuy here was tempura fried, leaving it with a crisp exterior and extremely moist. Although it’s a bit cliche, the flavor reminded me of dark meat chicken or, if that’s too pedestrian, perhaps a game hen. I quite enjoyed the dish and would happily have cuy, at Maido, again.

Nigiri – beef tongue, scallop, toro

We knew that nigiri sushi was part of the tasting menu heading in, but wondered as the meal went on why they were so late in the lineup given that milder dishes are typically served earlier in a tasting menu. Well, these nigiri were anything but light. From the fatty tuna and beef tongue to the rich uni cream served atop the scallop, each contained a substantial amount of flavor.

Gindara misoyaki – Cod marinated in miso, crispy Bahuaja nuts, apple gel, Porcon mushroom powder

Given that misoyaki butterfish is such a staple back home, although a delicious plate, this was perhaps the one dish that fell short of other iterations we’ve had. The cod was perfectly cooked with a moist, delicately flaky texture. The additional sweetness from the apple gel served to make the savoriness of the miso pop on the palate.

Beef Short Rib – Cooked for 50 hours, native potato cream, crispy rice, cushuro, black garlic

This is a Maido signature dish. Fall-apart tender short rib, cooked for 50 hours, is so luxuriousness that the potato cream actually worked to mellow out the flavors on the palate. The dish was actually a little more sweet than savory, which trends away from my personal preference. However, that did not stop me from eating some of Judy’s portion as well as my own.

Sea urchin rice – Chiclayo rice, Atico sea urchin, avocado cream, wan yi, baby corn

Wow. A stellar dish; one that will easily make the top 10 plates list for this year. Peruvian sea urchin has proven to be my 2nd favorite (after Japanese uni from Hokkaido). The freshness, oceanic brine, and natural sweetness of the uni is the absolute star in this rice. Avocado cream adds some additional fat to up the lux factor. I devoured this bowl and could have easily had a few more.

Theobroma Cacao – Granadilla with mandarin sorbet, mucilage foam, cacao nibs, lucuma ice cream, raspberries

A combination of local cacao and fruits, this dessert skirted the border between savory and sweet. The tart of raspberries and the bitterness of cacao nibs round out the full flavor gamut. The presentation was unique, reminiscent of a mussel nestled atop a rock at the water’s edge.

Theobroma Bicolor – Macambo seed ice cream, smoked shoyu, crunchy nibs, sugar coated macambo, camu camu, goldenberry, mucilage

Our final course brought us into sweet dessert territory. The complete dish still contained elements of bitter and tart from the cacao and fruit, but the smoked shoyu’s umami actually helped boost the sense of sweetness in each bite. The dish was topped with a cold, liquid nitrogen “seed” ice cream which was not only delicious, but also added an intense cold temperature element.

Although not officially Michelin-rated (as the guide does not inspect South American countries as of yet), our experience at Maido was easily two Michelin star caliber. The service was incredible with friendly and attentive staff.

Earlier in our trip we had tried a more casual “Nikkei” restaurant in Cusco, where we were met with underwhelming flavors. Maido was a welcomed 180 degree turn from that experience, providing us a peek into the incredible flavor potential of Japanese/Peruvian fusion. This was an amazing meal, and the perfect way to conclude our visit to Peru.

Calle San Martin 399
Miraflores, Peru
+51 13 135 100