For a night of Peruvian fare and wicked cocktails, step into Mayta, the latest venture from Dining Concepts that takes over the space formerly occupied by Blue Smoke BBQ. Located in the heart of LKF, the space is huge (including a separate bar area) with a mysterious yet laidback décor; with funky music playing in the background and splashes of colour on the walls here and there, this is a great place to kick-start a fun night out.
If you’re a pisco fan, you’ll be in pisco-paradiso with a loooong list of pisco cocktails for you to try. Since it was still only midday for us, we opted for two non-alcoholic Refrescos. The cholo virgin passion fruit was a tad too sweet and would have benefited from a touch of sourness, but the lemongrass lemonade was cool and thirst quenching – perfect for anyone who’s just walked up that LKF hill to get here!
You can’t come to Mayta without ordering something from the ceviche station, so we started our meal with the Clasico – a ceviche of sea bass, marinated in lime leche de tigre. The marinade was mild and sweet, and the crunch from the choclo (corn) and cancha (corn nuts) added just the right amount of texture and saltiness to the dish.
The chicken anticuchos (translation: skewers) came next. These smelled heavenly with a drizzle of rocoto pepper sauce, but sadly when I cut into a piece, it revealed the soft pink texture of waaaay undercooked chicken. With H7N9 on the loose, I decided not to risk it, so left this sitting on my plate.
The pork and shrimp spring rolls were a rather unexpected dish for a Peruvian restaurant, and they looked exactly like those you’d get in a dim sum restaurant – and they come out mighty fresh and hot, so be careful with this one! Rather than being chunks of meat, the filling had all been mashed together (reminiscent of a sausage roll); this definitely needed the sauce, a sweet and sour rocoto chilli number, to give it a bit more of a flavour hit.
As for my favourite little snack at Mayta… without a doubt, it’s got to be the pan con chicharron. Who knew these steamed buns filled with crispy pork, aioli, pickles and a sweet potato chip would be so delicious? Again, there was a hint of Asian influence thanks to the bao-style light fluffy buns, which flawlessly soaked up all the wonderful fattiness of the crispy pork belly and yummy aioli sauce, whilst the sweet potato chip provided a good crunch with each bite. Total must-orders.
Our one big sharing dish was the arroz con mariscos – a yellow chilli curry rice that had a fabulous mix of fragrant flavours and just a hint of heat. This seafood rice was filled with fried squid, scallops and prawns galore and had been seasoned to perfection; we kept finding yummy bits of seafood and cashew nuts hidden within the juicy rice and just couldn’t stop going back for seconds (…and thirds… and fourths!).
Our last bite at Mayta was of course, dessert. The suspiro de limena was full of surprises – we were slightly confused by the olive oil ice cream, which didn’t have the cold icy feel of ice cream, instead sort of reminding me of cookie dough gone bad. However, we loved the crunchy quinoa cookie, which complemented the soft indulgent dulce de leche (a gift from the gods!) so well, and the chunks of grilled pineapple were a refreshing unexpected touch.
Being in such a convenient location and having just opened for lunch, don’t forget to come by for some Peruvian food to fill your mid-day break – lunch sets range from $100-130 for a variety of items from Mayta’s a la carte menu (extremely affordable for the Central area), which would be great for gathering a bunch of friends to taste and try different things. On the a la carte menu, small shares come to around $100 whilst the ceviches and bigger sharing dishes are around the $150-250 mark.
There were a few misses at Mayta, but the hits here really shone oh-so-brightly. I’d go back for that pan con chicharron and the arroz con mariscos in a heartbeat – and if you’re willing to give them a try, I reckon you’ll be a fan too!
Mayta 3/F, Grand Progress Building, 15 Lan Kwai Fong, Central