REVIEW: Mayta by Jaime Pesaque

This city is now almost full to the point of bursting with Peruvian restaurants. The cuisine du jour has been growing in momentum across the world, and famous chef Alain Ducasse spotted it early saying: “Peru will become one of the leading actors on the global culinary scene.” It’s certainly a trend that has embedded itself in Dubai’s foodie venues, with everyone from nightclubs to cafes offering a taste of Lima.

Mayta is the latest restaurant in DIFC to spring up with Peru on the menu. It’s the eleventh restaurant by Jaime Pesaque who, if you know your Latin American cuisine, is kind of a big deal. In fact, as well as launching one of the trendiest restaurants in Lima, he can take some responsibility for the world’s Peruvian obsession, having passed on his knowledge to some of the best in the business.

The space is open plan but sectioned into a bar, lounge and restaurant area, with dark wood and lively patterns with pops of colour that complement the theme. It’s ideal for after-work drinks as well as long leisurely meals – although when we visited the music was cranked up pretty loud at 9pm, we’re told that this was for a special event and that the DJ usually keeps things to a conversation-friendly level. Either way, if you’re looking for a lively evening, it ticks the boxes.

This place has only been open for a few months, and it has already gained a reputation for its ceviche – fresh raw fish marinated in ‘tiger’s milk’ (that’s citrus juices and chilli to you and me).

Given the opening paragraph of this review, we’re no stranger to a good ceviche, but we have to admit that Mayta offers some of the best we’ve ever tasted. The ‘nikkei’, which is tuna, ponzu, avocado, daikon and nori, was recommended by our waiter and is a real must-try. Our favourite, however, was the tiraditos – made in a similar way to ceviche but in thin slices instead of small cubes. The snapper with crunchy capers (‘mercado’) is seriously zesty, so if you like sharp flavours as much as us, this will no doubt be a highlight.

There’s something about a small citrus dish that prepares you for a big main course, so prepare to overindulge. We ordered salmon in a thai curry sauce with baby vegetables and chili oil, which had soft, fresh flavours that led on from the starters nicely. The crispy chicken with cumin orange marinade was similarly light and served with rocoto salsa and guacamole – if you like your guac, you’ll love this dish. Grilled steak with roasted whole garlic finished off the substantial spread, cooked nice and crispy on the outside with perfect soft pink meat in the middle.

For dessert, it would be rude to leave without trying the chocolate volcano – it was rich, dense and served with a side of banana ice cream. The ‘lava’ inside is actually Amazonian organic chocolate so the ingredients, much like everything else at Mayta, are top notch.

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