Mayta: better late than never?

Mayta Dubai - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva18 months ago Dubai had no dedicated Peruvian restaurants (unless you count supper club The Act). Coya opened in December 2014, followed a few months later by The Garden, and now we have seven establishments including new opening and Lima import, Mayta, at DIFC’s Capital Club – with another different concept set to open on Palm Jumeirah. The global Peruvian trend has well and truly arrived here, albeit very tardy. You may argue that seven is too many, and likely I would agree, but when compared with the hundreds of Italian, or Indian restaurants in Dubai, it’s small fry.

Mayta is Peruvian chef Jaime Pesaque’s concept with outposts in Uruguay, New York, Miami, Hong Kong, in addition to Peru, and has been brought to Dubai by Ginza, who amongst others, also operate Jean-Georges Dining Room. Here the kitchen is helmed by a Peruvian chef de cuisine. Oozing Aztec touches, nooks and crannies house the restaurant and the bar, making for a highly intimate, inviting feel. Mayta is a classic example of a restaurant that is half-empty (or half-full) on a Friday evening over a long weekend, yet still manages to boast plenty of atmosphere thanks to a mix of bright and dimmed lighting, along with a well considered design.

The menu, in typical Peruvian style, is a little overwhelming, partly because of the mammoth choice, and also because of the Spanish lingo and descriptors. That’s fine if you are familiar with Peruvian cuisine, but I expect not all of Mayta’s clientele are. In all fairness, our waiter, rather than force upon an explanation of the concept and the menu, simply and politely asks if we would like any assistance. So let me make it easy for you. Ceviches and tiraditos (the latter is the Peruvian equivalent of Japanese sashimi). Small shares (which essentially applies to all ‘appetisers’). Anticuchos, aka grilled skewers. Moving onto main course portions: Wok dishes. Brasas = charcoal-grilled. Especiales are the signature dishes. Plus some over-priced ‘big shares’.

To try and taste a good proportion of the menu, I order three starter-size dishes and two mains (leaving one for dessert) for my dining companion and moi. First to arrive is my choice of ceviche, small shares and anticuchos – all served at the same time. Yes folks, love or hate, Mayta is another sharing-style concept, but here it works with the dishes arriving in the right order.

Mayta Dubai - steak tataki and tuna ceviche - Dubai restaurants - FoodivaMayta Dubai - asparagus anticucho - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva

The tuna ceviche takes influence from Nikkei cuisine (a Peruvian-Japanese fusion style made famous by Nobu), which along with chunks of avocado in a ponzu sauce, plus shredded daikon radish and nori combines exquisite flavours with textural balance. As it happens, most of the Peruvian restaurants in Dubai actually embrace the Nikkei cooking style. Anyhow digressing, Mayta’s ceviche is one of the best I have tasted in Dubai. The steak tataki is our favourite dish of the night thanks to the delicious wagyu fillet in a ginger soya emulsion and some crushed cashews. It’s one of those timeless dishes you would return to a restaurant for. So delicious, I nearly order a second portion. The asparagus anticuchos are the only disappointment of the night – for two reasons. I don’t think they are meant to be served cold but they are, and secondly, the menu lists white Peruvian asparagus, but instead limp green spears arrive.

Mayta Dubai - crispy chicken - Dubai restaurants - FoodivaMayta Dubai - roasted cod risotto - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva

Both our main courses are standout dishes. Sliced crispy chicken served Mexican-style where you make your own corn tortilla wraps. Dollops of yellow tomato chutney infused with cumin and orange, and guacamole topped with a spicy rocoto salsa make this dish super moreish – another dish where we crave more. A roasted cod, which one would assume is a twist on Nobu’s classic black cod, sees a delicate flaky fish fillet served atop a risotto brimming with squash, giant corn kernels and spiced with aji Amarillo chillies – the latter prevalent throughout the menu. Be warned, Peruvian food can be quite spicy. A wholesome, nourishing and flavourful dish.

Mayta Dubai - chocolate fondant - Dubai restaurants - FoodivaA classic dark chocolate fondant (with Peruvian cocoa beans) makes for a sweet, but not too sweet ending. An accompanying scoop of banana ice cream dipped in crushed nuts with a caramel coulis give the dessert some sublime banoffee pie flavours.

The 100-strong cocktail list, excellent Pisco sours included, and a very well priced wine list (as an example, Billecart-Salmon Brut sells for just over AED500, and the rose vintage for AED800+) would make mixologists and sommeliers drool.

What’s quite unusual about Mayta is that the same waiter serves us throughout our meal – admittedly the restaurant isn’t particularly busy. Apart from a couple of discreet upselling attempts (no I don’t want to order six dishes plus desserts for two people), service is efficient, experienced and well paced. However, on arrival, the hostess escorts us to what is possibly the worst table in the restaurant. At our insistence, she offers us another table in a secluded alcove with views across to the main dining area (a perfect hideaway for private events by the way). Given Mayta is far from packed, why not offer us a choice of tables right from the start? Many restaurants in Dubai are at fault here, and I’d love to understand why, if anyone would care to shed some light.

Provided you steer away from the pricey big sharing plates (trust me the main courses are large enough to share), expect to pay AED310 per person for three very generous courses without alcohol. That’s in line with expectations from a high-end dining establishment in a prime location.

Mayta Dubai - Dubai restaurants - FoodivaAnd those expectations have truly been surpassed. Mayta’s modern take on Peruvian and wider South American cuisine marries bold, exquisite flavours, with interesting textures and a stylish presentation – at a fair price. The service, in most parts, is well trained – whilst location, décor and atmosphere all get a thumbs up. From what I can tell, the restaurant is busier on week nights with the DIFC crowd. Mayta may be late to the Peruvian game in Dubai, but it’s worth the wait. Book your table now. Here’s to a high four out of five FooDiva knife rating.

Do you have a favourite Peruvian restaurant in Dubai, or elsewhere? Do you think we have too many Peruvian restaurants here now?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

FooDiva Rating: Knife Rating: 4
  • Capital Club (third floor), Gate Village, DIFC
  • +971 4 5148774
  • Peruvian
  • Yes
  • AED 310 per person without alcohol
  • Open Sunday to Thursday 12-3pm, 7pm-12am and Friday 7pm-12am
  • Posted under
    DIFC, Dubai, Licensed, Location, Peruvian, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants
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8 Responses to “Mayta: better late than never?”

  1. JayEIm May 16, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Luv it……… food dictionary that is 🙂

    ………….chunks of avocado in a ponzu sauce, plus shredded daikon radish and nori………that is indeed Peruvian and nothing whatsoever to do with Japanese…..Oh Forgot the Avocado…Do they have Avocados in Japan?
    Ponzu is basically Soya Sauce + Lemon juice……..or as my dictionary says: citrus juice of sudachi, yuzu, and kabosu and vinegar soya sauce….etc. You do not need to know what is Sudachi – Yuzu and Kabosu…….I did not bother checking as it is way beyond my paycheck!

    Do they serve Humos? Inquiring minds like to know?

    And I thought “Nikkei” is Tokyo Stock Exchange market index. Now you can eat it as well!
    I am looking forward for some wholesome food marketed as Footsi (FTSE) or Nisee (NYSE)
    In fact, Mayta seems to be a very nice modern Japanese menu 😉

    On the plus side, your description of the dishes is quite appetizing and I would not mind trying the Risotto Cod…..Risotto is Peruvian? No? the Italian invasion or the Spanish Armada……well both are Latin derived languages except the former is more elegant.
    Add to that the beverages price seems to be a steal compared to other reputable places where the Dom Perignon Brut 3l is only AED38000 but the Evian is AED50…..and no they do not have Masafi!!!!!but RedBull is free!

    ……now where did I put my DIFC labyrinth map…….

    • FooDiva May 17, 2016 at 9:55 am

      I seem to recall your Nikkei reference in a comment on a past review 😉 Do pay Mayta a visit. It’s in Capital Club so you won’t get lost 😉

  2. Claire May 19, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I wondered if this is where the South African term braai came form:

    Brasas = charcoal-grilled

    • FooDiva May 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Ooh maybe so Claire!

  3. Dave Reeder May 19, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Is this finally the year of Latin-American cuisine? What, again? For such a diverse collection of amazing cuisines from Mexican to Cuban to Chilean, it surprises me how slowly these tastes are becoming part of our quotidien diet. Strange as Indian food has much the same general flavour profile of heat and freshness. But where you’ll hear friends say they’re going to cook an Indian meal tonight, I guarantee you’ve never heard them say they’re going to cook Peruvian or Brazilian…One of my favourite restauramts in London is Thomasina Myers’ Wahaxa, a brilliantly casual new wave Mexican joint. The vide is light and friendfly, the food delicious and it’s a formula that I think would do amazingly well on somewhere like Marina Walk…

    • FooDiva May 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

      I’ve just retrieved your comment from spam, so apologies for the delay Dave! Latin-American cuisine is just not as prevalent globally as Indian cuisine – mind you I would rather cook the former! I am surprised Thomasina Myers has not yet entered Dubai…

  4. Nicola June 1, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Hi, I have been reading your restaurant reviews and I am so torn, hoping you can help? I am planning a birthday meal for my husband and I at the end of this month and I have the following choices to make:
    Mayta – Play – Catch – or even the fancy JG @ four seasons.
    We are foodies and I would love to surprise him with a real culinary restaurant! What would you choose? It’s not a big birthday but is a great excuse to have a delicious meal!

    • FooDiva June 1, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Nicola, I have only eaten at your first three choices, but I hear great things about JG Dining Room (my guest reviewer covered it). I don’t rate Catch highly (you can see my review). Both Mayta and Play are excellent choices for delicious food. The former is more intimate and therefore more romantic, but if you want lots of buzz and glam factor then go for Play. Hope this helps narrow it down for you 🙂

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