Maido Japanese Restaurant Tweetup

Sake drinking ensued, what a surprise...Yes we had a great time at Maido Japanese Restaurant in Doral, totally ignoring the gloomy tropical storm warning that made indoor dining so appealing. Yet many brave souls fought the dreary rain and lousy traffic to come enjoy a real treat of a meal from chefs Genya and Hiroshi.

For those who missed the review of Maido Japanese Restaurant, it’s a small and quiet place generally, with a pair of classically trained sushi chefs. Hiroshi-san runs the sushi bar, and Genya-san runs the kitchen. These co-owners team up to quietly make some of the greatest Japanese food around.

Agedashi Tofu was superb!Their store is far away from the bright lights and glare of Miami Beach, so plenty of folks that came had never been there, or even heard of Maido in some cases. Some Broward residents made quite a journey to attend, and even the local Miami folks had to battle the elements.

But when it’s unpleasant outside, a nice warm agedashi tofu can be just the right thing! Hard to tell from my photo but this was actually the best hot tofu dish ever! A couple of larger-than-average pieces of tofu, still warm and gooey inside, served in a wonderful dashi sauce. I ate mine slowly, enjoying each bite.

Honestly it scared me a little. As I ate it I wondered how the rest of their dishes were going to compare. And I’m determined to order a hot tofu dish every time I come here. It was that good.

Daikon Salad with Anchovies

Daikon Salad with Anchovies and tangy sauce

Next came a daikon salad, which took many folks by surprise. Americans rarely display an affinity for daikon. Typically it’s an ignored and unloved garnish on a plate full of sushi. Sushi bars here routinely just substitute shredded carrot, knowing that people waste the daikon they’re given.

In this dish the daikon was the star of the show. It’s typically shredded I think, but for us they used a larger wide cut (but still thin mind you) and topped it with a combination of their secret sauce and small anchovies.

It did not suit everyone’s tastes. I thought it was the weakest dish of the evening, but for me personally it’s just hard to get excited about daikon. For the most part, the people there were just not familiar with this ingredient. But that was rather the point to the whole affair with a planned menu. We wanted to shake people out of their comfort zone!

Tuna YukkeNext up was Tuna Yukke. It was fabulous. No need to convince people about this one, there were plenty of tuna fans in the house. I thought it was a nice, well balanced dish. The tuna was not diminished in any way by the other ingredients. They only served to highlight it and give some balance to the dish. Didn’t see anyone not finishing their yukke.

The original plan was to use beef. That’s really the way to do yukke, but is perhaps a little less compatible with the American palette. We love our beef, but tend to prefer it barbequed, skewered, baked, fried, smoked, ground and grilled, anything other than raw.

For the barbeque fans there were some cool chicken burgers, sweet potato chips and corn on the cob. Not exactly typical fare for an izakaya or sushi bar but the chicken burgers were juicy and I enjoyed this unorthodox choice.

Potato Konnyaku

An interesting Sashimi Konnyaku Dish

Our next course was a sashimi konnyaku dish. Thinly sliced and plated beautifully, then covered in the delicious sauce. I was pleasantly surprised and I think plenty of others enjoyed this dish as well.

If you go there, you can always ask to be served this dish. I don’t think it’s really on the menu, but this is more of an izakaya anyway, with an ever changing array of specialties written on the whiteboards hanging on their wall.

Tempura of Watercress and SilverfishTempura time came after that. We were presented large plates to share, each one full of tempura watercress and silverfish. Both items that were a bit unfamiliar to the guests. Both cooked perfectly too; light golden batter fried texture, and not overcooked at all. That can be hard to do with small items.

We enjoyed a terrific sushi plate after that. The chefs kind of kept that as a surprise for us, saying only that we’d have some kind of roll or something from the sushi bar. Yes, they were sandbagging, and they shocked us with sixteen perfect plates of sushi.

Sushi Plate at Maido tweetup

Sushi Plate at Maido tweetup

Yes the standard American favorites were there. Tuna and unagi and salmon were probably what most would have ordered if left to their own devices. And yes, they really hit the spot. I looked carefully, and noted that all of mine passed the Rosenberg test. In fact I inspected a few of my neighbors’ nigiri as well.

Rice to topping ratio – perfect. Wasabi applied to underside of fish, in varying amounts depending on the fish – bingo. Super fresh neta cut just right – of course. Hiroshi-san is a master of consistency, which is so important for sushi bars. Always terrific, that should be the goal of every sushi bar.

Anyway, back to the sushi, each diner got some nice orange colored uni too. Not everyone appreciated the uni, but in every case found an eager volunteer nearby to help out.

Pressed sushi, Kansai styleMore divisive still was the pressed sushi. In Kansai regions it’s usually served just as we got it, with Mackerel. Not everyone likes the strong, oily taste of Mackerel, but it’s very healthy. Besides, as I mentioned, we don’t really care to stay well within everyone’s comfort zone all the time. And nobody starved.

They also served us each a couple slices of futomaki that I found to be really tasty. I heard one girl remark that it was too large for her to eat in a single bite. But large is important in this maki, and no other. Many ingredients need to fit in there and you can’t skip the rice, so large is the result. Deal with it.

Happy Sushi PeopleAnd for those not stuffed yet, we finished up with a nice pork noodle soup. I was getting a bit full at that point, but had no trouble eating the soup because it was just a comforting, satisfying and unpretentious soup. Downright humble compared to the sushi, but tasted like liquid nourishment in a batch of thick pork broth.

And yes, although the soup was filling, a bit of sake drinking ensued – what a surprise! Maido carries some nice sake as I’ve mentioned before. And we feasted on a nice crisp batch of something. I failed to get the name of this sake, as I got distracted. The bottle was large if that helps LOL.

Hiroshi-san draws winning card: Blanca Stella Mejia

Hiroshi-san draws winning card: Blanca Stella Mejia

One person who found something new was our prize winner, Blanca Stella Mejia. While not really impressed by the pressed sushi, she had a good time and won herself a pad thai kit including Mango Pad Thai Sauce by Patti. Luckily it came with instructions.

However the secret ingredient used liberally throughout the evening was the people. This was a fun bunch of rain avoiders and they were willing to suspend their perceived taste preferences for a night to try some new foods. I think all were happy about the outcome, and grew a little as people. I personally grew about a half belt size.

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