It’s hard not to miss Blue Smoke Bar-B-Que, the American southern barbecue house that formerly occupied the third floor of Lan Kwai Fong’s Progress Building. It was one of the few places where you could get southern comfort food like chilli, mac & cheese (or both in the chilli mac), pulled pork sandwiches and ribs. But alas, as Hongkongers’ dining preferences veered further down in the direction of South America, Blue Smoke gave way to Mayta, the new Peruvian eatery from Dining Concepts.
To be fair, there’s not much competition for Peruvian food in this town. The only other known outlet is the ultra-popular Chicha. Mayta has high standards to match but it seems to be in a good place to forge its own rep.
Stepping into the establishment, the restaurant is off to a good start. The entire dining room is decked out in a brown and velvet-hued Aztec theme with relics that look like they have come off the set of The Indian in the Cupboard; bold patterned vases and jugs are immaculately placed on the shelves, rustic wooden beams separate spaces and dim lighting plays off the lively mood of the restaurant.
Mayta offers an array of communal dishes. Start with small shares, in the form of salads, empanadas, corn cakes and scallops and choose the main from the big shares, in an array of rice dishes, stews and stir fries. Those who are in the mood for ceviche, the citric Peruvian specialty, can have their fill from the selection at the ceviche station ($148-$268 per plate), serving scrumptious slices of fish, like salmon and sea bass, marinating in red onions, candied ginger, leche de tigre and more.
The small share order of causas ($158) starts our meal off with a bang. Beautifully-plated, the trio of mashed potatoes arrive with dollops of salmon ceviche tartare, octopus and rocoto chilli aioli and shrimp escabeche on top of each one. Our favourite has to be the Peruvian purple potato with the salmon ceviche tartare. The tartare sauce’s sweet tanginess swims delightfully in our mouths and contrasts unusually well with the starchier mashed potato. We also enjoy the pan con chicharron ($128). This is the love child of a pork belly bun father and a banh mi mother. The steamed mantou wrap and the sweet crispy pork belly can come off too heavy and too much like something you can get at a Chinese restaurant on its own but stands out when mixed with the pickled shredded vegetables as the sourness of the veggies cuts into the fat of the meat and balances the flavour out. The fried sweet potato wedges also add a nice crunch to the whole thing.
We settle for the arroz con mariscos ($188) as a main share but unfortunately, the seafood rice dish comes off like a slightly spicier version of Chinese stir fry takeout, with the yellow chilli curry drowning out the flavours from the shrimp, scallops and fried squid.
On the server’s recommendation, we end the night with the suspiro de limena ($68), a Peruvian delicacy which literally translates into ‘Limean [from Lima] woman’s sigh’. It’s a light, frothy thing with grilled pineapple slices. The almond oil adds a great touch to the dish, giving it a nutty taste that meshes well with the creamy custard.
Peruvian food has been rumoured for quite some time now to be the hot cuisine going global; and with the arrival of this sizzling new restaurant and its intricate menu, Hong Kong is doing a good job of keeping up with the Joneses of the dining world. Janice Jann
Pan con chicharron $128
Arroz con mariscos $188
Suspiro de limena $68
Total(for two) $542.00
3/F, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2790 0928; diningconcepts.com.hk. Sun to Thur 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-11pm.
|Venue name:||Mayta (CloseD)|
3/F, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central