Maiyango

February 22, 2016

Regular readers will have seen several posts on Maiyango over recent years. I’ve got to know its founder Aatin quite well and he keeps me informed of new developments, but it  was about time I did a proper independent review for the Mercury.

Fortunately the kitchen was on great form and we thoroughly enjoyed dinner  as you will see from the review below.

 

Maiyango
13-21 St Nicholas Place
Leicester
LE1 4LD

Tel: 0116 251 8898

Leicester city centre is not over-run with high-end restaurants. Some foodie types I know regularly complain of having to drive out to Rutland or to neighbouring cities to find what they want.

Maiyango though, now celebrating it’s 10th year, is definitely a candidate for encouraging the discerning, demanding diner to stay local. Set up by Leicester boy Aatin Anadkat it has developed over that decade from a young man’s brave, but slightly chaotic attempt to create a restaurant inspired by travelling, to a sophisticated, high-performing venue offering contemporary dishes with influences from around the world. It also has a classy breakfast, brunch and daytime menu and a smart boutique hotel upstairs too.

One thing that hasn’t changed too much from the early days is the décor – it still has a dark, exotic feel with swathes of beautiful fabrics surrounding circular booths and lampshades that bring to mind an Istanbul coffee house.

Current head chef Salvatore Tassari has been in post for nearly a year now and judging by this visit he is really hitting his stride.

His menus reflect the house style but bear his own stamp too, bristling with international influences from starters such as sweet potato dumplings in ginger and spring onion broth to deserts such as lime leaf crème brulée with ginger and lemongrass sorbet.

We picked the mid-week four course tasting menu, giving some highlights from the à la carte for what I’d call a bargainous £25.

Things kicked off with bread with some herby rosemary and garlic oil and a super condiment of salt, seaweed and sesame that pumped out umami.

Then a little amuse bouche of a buttery mini-baked potato with a lemony cream cheese filling. Very nice, though oddly prosaic in light of what was to come.

The first course proper was an outstanding dish of sensationally tender and flavoursome soy-marinated ox cheek, with a disc of dashi gellee (a light Japanese fish stock), topped with tempura of a minty, citrussy shiso leaf and sitting in light, creamy coconut and chilli broth. A sort of elegant, fine dining deconstruction of a rustic beef rendang with delicate counterpoints of flavour and texture.

Then came pollock that had been slow-cooked in a water bath, a process which firms up the texture without danger of overcooking and retains moisture and flavour. It was then wrapped in wilted romaine lettuce leaf, adorned with curried lentils, and dressed with little pinched shoots of coriander. A dish that delivered more than it promised and which was cooked and assembled with great care and attention. It was also a great match with a glass of zesty albarino

The third savoury dish again showed a thoughtful approach with contrasting textures and flavours with an Asian vibe. Thai-spiced corn-fed chicken breast was tender and moist, sitting into a complex miso broth with mung beans and dabs of vibrant green coriander purée. At the side was a was a money-bag dumpling filled with crayfish and on top was a mini-mountain of crunchy shavings of sweet potato. A lot going on, but it all came together splendidly.

We finished with a handsome-looking, technical dessert of five-spiced white chocolate mousse with a rosewater sorbet, crystalised rose petals and hibiscus jelly. The mousse could have been a bit firmer and the spice didn’t really come through but these are minor points compared to the gorgeous pairing of white chocolate and roses. The mousse was contained in a gossamer-thin sugar cylinder which in less skilled hands might have been a crunchy intrusion but here disappeared on the tongue, it’s main function being an architectural one giving shape and form to the dish.

Maiyango won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Some may find the whole cocktail bar atmosphere a bit too, dare I say, young for them. The lighting and the music isn’t great for those who struggle with hearing or vision, but it’s worth persevering.

Critics from national newspapers have been fairly sniffy about Maiyango in the past, as they they generally are about Leicester. But just as our football team has not been intimidated by the metropolitan elite, I’m not sure diners should. I’m not saying Maiyango is about to top the Premier League of UK restaurants but, as with the Foxes, there is much to cherish and enjoy.

 

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