Our One-Year Anniversary Dinner at Maiko Japanese Restaurant (in Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an)!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

After a family night dinner at Le Gourmet and a girls’ night dinner at Arlequin, it was time for Raj and I to have a just-“Raddy” dinner together, celebrating our one-year anniversary. Since Japanese cuisine is my favourite kind of cuisine, Raj (the thoughtful boyfriend) made reservations at Maiko, one of the only two Japanese restaurants on the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort. Unlike Mikado (the other Japanese restaurant), Maiko is located in the Sian Ka’an area, which is my favourite area on the resort and adult-only. This dinner at Maiko ended up being my absolute favourite dining experience on this trip! It had the best menu selection, the best food, the best apéritif cocktail, and the best service. Raj did a fantastic job at selecting a restaurant for our one-year anniversary dinner. Here is a recap/review of my special dining experience at Maiko

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called "Shanghai" and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. :( This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called “Shanghai” and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. 😦 This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

The appetizer menu.

The appetizer menu.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on outside, but still completely raw on inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put it in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on the outside, but still completely raw on the inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put them in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the "California Sushi". I am not vegan by any means, but that is what I felt like having that night. So instead of having "tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame" in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed "sushi snob", this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the “California Sushi”. I am not vegan by any means, but that was what I felt like having that night. So instead of having “tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame” in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed “sushi snob”, this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

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“Misoshiro Soup – with tofu cheese, seaweed wakame, scallions, and Somen pasta.” The “tofu cheese” was just plain tofu pieces and completely dairy-free. This miso soup was not anything spectacular, but it was good. It was not too salty and contained a good amount of tofu pieces and seaweed. I was glad that there were only a few strands of Somen noodles, because that kept this dish nice and light for an appetizer.

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The menu for the teppanyaki, main course, and dessert. You could order a teppanyaki dish along with your main course before dessert, but Raj and I opted to order just a main course and dessert since we did not want to overindulge.

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“Seafood with Curry – sauce made with eggplant and onion confit.” My main course was absolutely delicious! The coconut-milk-based curry sauce was so creamy and flavourful. Also, there was a generous amount of seafood (mussel, shrimp, scallop, fish, etc.) and it was all so fresh! This seafood curry was served with a small bowl of short-grain white rice and the rice was perfectly cooked. My only criticism is that I wish this dish was spicy, because I like my curries quite spicy! I would reorder this dish as is though. It was just so aromatic and tasty!

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“Halo-halo – tapioca and lychee with coconut cream.” Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert that is mainly shaved ice and evaporated milk topped off with fruits, sweetened boiled beans, jello, and/or other sweets. That was what I was expecting, but instead, this halo-halo was more like a Thai coconut tapioca pudding. This dessert was mainly made of small tapioca pearls that were suspended in thick, sweetened coconut milk. I could not taste any lychee. Although this was not your traditional Filipino halo-halo, I enjoyed this gluten-free dessert, especially with the scoop of coconut ice cream on the side.

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka'an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka'an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka’an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka’an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

If you are visiting the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort and are at least 18 years of age with no kids (or have someone to babysit the kids), I highly recommend having dinner at Maiko and then hitting the Sian Ka’an bar lounge afterwards for post-dinner drinks. This night out was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. Thank you, Maiko (and Sian Ka’an)!

XOXO,

Addy

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Healthy Asian Dining with Raj and My Parents

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Trying to order healthy at Asian restaurants can be hard, especially when their menus are typically very extensive and overwhelming. However, I’ve come up with a few tips that help me stay on the healthy track. A few days ago, Raj, my parents, and I went to a Chinese restaurant called Asian Legend. Their menu was very large, but I managed to pick out some healthy dishes for everyone using these guidelines:

1. When it comes to vegetable dishes, opt for minimally cooked ones that are lightly dressed with light sauces. Raw, pickled, blanched, steamed, and lightly stir-fried vegetables are more nutrient-dense than stewed, boiled, and deep fried ones. Just make sure they’re not drenched in sauces. We ordered their “Sweet and Spicy Cucumber” salad (slices of raw cucumber lightly dressed in a light sweet and spicy sauce). So good & refreshing!

"Sweet and Spicy Cucumber" salad - This is my new favourite Chinese vegetable dish! The raw and perfectly marinated cucumber slices are such a nice change from the usual  stir-fried vegetables at Chinese restaurants. So refreshing!

“Sweet and Spicy Cucumber” salad – This is my new favourite Chinese vegetable dish! The raw and perfectly marinated cucumber slices are such a nice change from the usual stir-fried vegetables at Chinese restaurants. So refreshing!

2. Request for less oil, less salt, less soy sauce (low-sodium soy sauce, if possible), and no monosodium glutamate (MSG) in your dishes. If you like your food spicy, kick up the flavour with extra spice instead! For instance, we ordered the “Steamed California Bass” with chillies, less soy sauce, less oil, and no MSG. It was still full of flavour and it turned out to be my favourite dish!

"Steamed California Bass" - One of my favourite Chinese dishes that my dad makes is actually a very similar variation of this. It tasted just as delicious as my dad's version, so it ended up being my favourite dish that day! The fish was perfectly cooked!

“Steamed California Bass” – My dad actually makes a very similar variation of this that is one of my favourite childhood dishes. It tasted just as delicious as my dad’s version, so it ended up being my favourite dish that day! The fish was perfectly cooked!

3. Opt for lean proteins that are prepared in light sauces and not battered. My dad was craving their battered, deep fried, and sugar-laden “Sweet and Sour Chicken” that day, but instead, we ordered the “Jellyfish Salad” along with the steamed fish. After our meal, he was glad we went with the lean seafood dishes that are high in protein and healthy fatty acids, because he didn’t feel heavy or weighed down afterwards.

"Jellyfish Salad" - It was our first time trying jellyfish. Like tofu, it doesn't have much flavour on its own and relies on marinades/dressings for flavour. Also, it has a very unique texture that is somewhat similar to that of seaweed salad. I liked it and would reorder this dish.

“Jellyfish Salad” – It was our first time trying jellyfish. Like tofu, it doesn’t have much flavour on its own and relies on marinades/dressings for flavour. Also, it has a very unique texture that is somewhat similar to that of seaweed salad. I liked it and would reorder this dish.

4. Rice is a staple in the Asian diet. So if you must have rice with your meal, opt for plain steamed rice instead of fried rice.

5. Watch out for the condiments! If you are using soy sauce as a condiment, be aware of how much you are using and ask if a low-sodium soy sauce is available. Also, the chili sauce condiment that Asian restaurants provide are typically heavily oil-based. Ask if a vinegar-based chili sauce or red chili flakes are available instead.

6. Stick with water or tea for drinks. Avoid the sugary beverages, which are full of empty calories and inhibit optimal digestion.

7. If you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten, avoid mock meat as it’s likely made of wheat gluten.

8. Soups at Asian restaurants are generally high in sodium and may contain MSG. Since they are prepared ahead of time, chefs cannot reduce the salt content or remove the MSG that they may contain. Thus, if having soup, enjoy in moderarion (perhaps as a small appetizer).

Everyone digging in and Raj impressing my parents with his chopstick skills!

Everyone digging in and Raj impressing my parents with his chopstick skills! I devoured most of that fish!

These tips were written with Asian restaurants specifically in mind, but they can be applied to any kind of restaurant. We had a wonderful time at Asian Legend and the food was amazing! Thanks to my parents for selecting that place for Raj and me. Hopefully, you found at least some of these pointers helpful. Happy dining!

XOXO,

Addy