Published on September 10th, 2015 | by Ben Southwood0
Maiora Pop Up, Stoke Newington
Summary: Come for the Pad Thai, and stay for the variety of excellent South East Asian dishes on offer
Maiora is a collaborative residency project between two chefs: Pattra Praepath, who is Thai; and Cuong Lu, who is Vietnamese. It’s not really trying to be fusion cuisine, but it can’t really help it, simply because their influences shine through so clearly. The dishes we ate – there were something like eight of them – were all takes on the South East Asian classics you’re used to. It’s stuff you know, but better.
The residency is in a cocktail bar—Muddle & Swing—which is right in the vein of London cocktail bars nowadays. Dark, small (20 covers or fewer), and sells six or seven standard, well-chosen cocktails (think Whisky Sour and Negroni) for £7 or £8 a pop. They’ve added two for Maiora, including the ‘Singapore Sling’, which tasted sweet and fresh and tropical to me. Oh, and the menu is written on the wall in chalk. It’s on Stoke Newington Road, near Rectory Road overground station.
All the food we were served was very good, and gave us a pretty wide sweep of the menu. I usually find myself disliking Vietnamese rolls, but theirs were very good: they contained a tender strip of lean pork and were served with a very special peanut sauce, in which I also tasted fish sauce and tamarind. Pork meatballs were loosely packed and somehow cakey—suggesting a preponderance of the non-pork ingredients (spring onions, shallots, chillies, herbs); the pickled carrot they came with was sweet and moreish.
Pork ribs were well-braised: slightly dry but deeply flavoured and substantial hunks of mainly flesh with some tidbits of juicy fat. The pad thai was the best pad thai I’ve had. The whole thing came strongly flavoured with lime and tamarind, the noodles perfectly cooked to a glutinous chewiness, with strength but at the same time ample give. Pad thai is a real mulch of multitudinous flavours which risks blandness but here everything combined to really shine, and each little chunk of tender well-flavoured chicken was a joy.
The less familiar courses were the king prawn salad—to be eaten in prawn crackers—and the little coconut milk ‘pancakes’ with half a prawn in each of them. These were somehow reminiscent of Portuguese egg custard tarts, with an uncooked mushy middle and a cooked batter outside, and were definitely the most interesting dish of the night. Dessert was a ‘vietmisu’ (surely ‘vietnamisu’ would be better?) which seemed to me to be a normal tiramisu with some chillies to give it a bit of a twang—I for one can’t taste the difference between Vietnamese and regular coffee.
The city is full of popups, and has a small but solid core of excellent Thai (Som Saa, The Begging Bowl, The Heron) and Vietnamese (Viet Grill, Mien Tay) restaurants. Should you go to Maiora? Does it stand out? These are hard questions to answer, but I can say that they served me a lovely meal.
Maiora will run for 3 months from 17th September
Maiora @ Muddle & Swing, 55 Stoke Newington High St, N16 8ELShare This Post