By Rolanda Stinson
When you think of sushi, Manta, Ecuador does not immediately come to mind. However, La Quadra shopping center in Manta has just about anything you’re looking for, including sushi. Maido is a Japanese fusion restaurant in La Quadra with some of the best food in the city.
The outside of the restaurant is sleek and modern-looking and when you walk in, you are immediately greeted by the entire staff. Just to the right, you will see the sushi chefs all adorned in black uniforms, including chef hats, creating fresh sushi rolls. It is definitely an art form for the customer’s delight and viewing. The interior decor consists of beautiful Asian murals, dim lighting covered in rattan, and bamboo accents on the walls.
Maido is located on the first floor of the shopping center, right next door to Dulce & Cremosa, and is open seven days a week, 1pm - 9:30 pm. They have a large seating area inside and ample seating outside. There are other sushi restaurants in Manta that I’ve tried, but Maido stands out as one of the best sushi places I’ve ever been to. I eat at Maido at least twice a month and have even had food delivered to my home. It doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or delivery, the food is always amazingly fresh and tasty.
The menu is like a visual piece of art, as it is all black with beautiful brightly colored pictures of the cuisine. Maido’s vast menu consists of not only traditional sushi and sashimi, but also a large variety of salads, soups, vegetarian dishes, asian-inspired mains, fried rice, as well as desserts. You can order sushi rolls in a full or half size and even in family platters, so they have quantities to suit all needs. The staff are super friendly and very knowledgeable when it comes to the menu. Also, if you are unsure of what to order, the menu has an indicator next to Maido’s recommended dishes.
Some of my favorite appetizers to order at Maido would be the edamame picante, spring rolls, tuna tartar, and tempura vegetables. I always order the edamame picante because I have not been able to find edamame beans at any of the grocery stores here in Manta. It’s one of my favorite treats and it’s a legume that’s really good for you. Maido serves the edamame covered in a salty spicy seasoning called togarashi. It’s such a good mix of salty and mildly spicy flavors on top of the nutty flavor of the roasted edamame. Maido has an extensive vegetarian menu. The spring rolls can be ordered as vegetarian, which consists of four rice paper rolls filled with veggies and noodles in a soy-based sauce. The other spring roll option comes with three different types of rice paper spring rolls on the plate - fresh tuna, fresh salmon, and crab. Each rolled with fresh vegetables and placed in a sesame soy sauce. The Tartar De Atun (tuna tartar) is a wonderful appetizer to highlight Manta’s most popular fish, tuna. The tuna is served raw and stacked with avocado, seaweed salad, and topped with crispy thin strips of tempura carrots and settled in a ponzu sauce. It is one of the most eye-catching dishes on the menu and it’s just as delicious as it is beautiful.
For entrees, I always recommend starting with Maido’s fresh sushi rolls and they have a large variety to choose from. My favorite is the Acevichado roll which consists of shrimp, avocado, and cream cheese, wrapped in seaweed and rice, with fresh slices of tuna laid across the top. What makes this roll special is the toppings. It’s topped with crispy camote strips (purple sweet potato) and a ceviche-inspired mayo sauce. Another one of my favorites is the Manaba Fusion roll because it includes a Manabi favorite - maduro. I love maduro and to see it on a sushi roll definitely caught my attention because of how unique the concept is. Inside the roll is tempura shrimp, avocado, and green onion. It is wrapped in rice and seaweed, with slices of maduro set on top and a drizzle of sweet eel sauce. This dish should not work, and yet it magically does. The great part about the Manaba roll is that it also comes in a vegetarian version and is just as delicious. As a former vegetarian, I am very happy that Maido puts the same care and incredible flavors into their vegetarian dishes as they do into their other sushi rolls.
Maido doesn’t just have the best sushi, they also have pretty great main dishes. I have tried many dishes on the menu and some that I highly recommend are Bao Buns, Ramen, Nanban Udon which is another delicious chicken noodle soup, the Maido seafood fried rice, Yakimeshi vegetable fried rice, and finally the Katsu, which is either fried chicken or pork with a bbq-like sauce.
Maido is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Manta. The food is always fantastic and fresh and no matter what I order I am always happy with my meal. The servers are great, always efficient and polite. The decor and ambiance is welcoming and the attention to detail is impeccable. I would recommend Maido time and time again and quite frankly already have. It is definitely a treasure in Manta, and worthy of all the hype.