Mayha, Marylebone

The Blurb

Behind a little black door at number 43 Chiltern Street, lies Mayha, the recently opened Omakase restaurant from Beiruti group ‘Nothing but Love’. The footprint of the kitchen/dining room may be small, but everything else about this eleven-seat restaurant promises to be big.

The Style

We dine at a polished Japanese-style counter beneath a fairy-lit bower of blossom. The counter curves around the small open kitchen which allows conversation to flow freely between the diners and the chefs. The restaurant logo is a rabbit; it’s a motif that appears throughout the building… lucky then, that my guest (quite by coincidence) happens to be bunny obsessed. 

There’s a playfulness in the design, which translates seamlessly from branding to decor to plate. And it’s all in the details; my Chopstick rest or hashioki’ as they’re called in Japan, is a squirming porcelain piglet and my guest’s, a coiled sleeping Bambi.

The Food

Mayha offers a multi-course tasting menu prepared by head chefs; Yuichi Nakaya and Jurek Wasio. The menu changes seasonally in order to take advantage of the best produce and whilst they can accommodate some dietary requirements – we shrug off the shackles of our usual regime so that we might fully immerse ourselves in the Omakase experience. ‘Omakase’, since we’re on the topic, is a Japanese word which means ‘we leave it up to you.’ 

To drink: a glass of their cloudy sparkling sake from the mid-region of Japan. It’s light on the tongue and is made in the same method as champagne.

We begin with a raw scallop served on vinegar jelly with samphire and almond foam. The scallop is delicate, (and I don’t know it yet, but this a word that’s going to come up a lot). Next up is a sea urchin – if you haven’t tried urchin, the taste is a cross between oyster and brown crab meat. Sadly, it’s a fishy step too far for my guest, but the dish comes garnished with an adorable daikon rabbit, so there’s no love lost. 

Next, we move onto the meatier phase of the menu: venison loin served rare with a nutty coffee oil is a revelation. And barbecued quail leg, seasoned with lime, Maldon salt and a slightly sticky kumquat sauce is accompanied by a little hand towel so that one might pick it up and eat it like a very dainty caveman. The palate cleanser of iced plum soaked in gin goes down very, very well considering that I’m not typically a plum person and my guest is tee-total. 

Another steaming towel arrives to cleanse our hands before the sushi course. Yuichi prepares the sushi and serves it to us on our extended palms. It’s a beautiful and intimate experience. Our favourites from this section are perfectly plump (but delicate) Langoustine, tuna loin with grated Italian truffle, fatty tuna with onion sauce and an ephemeral eel tail that melts like butter.

The dessert course commences with a fluffy crepe doused in Bison Grass Vodka, we haven’t heard of it, so Jurek brings us the bottle. Upon googling, I learn that Bison Grass used to be illegal in the United States on account of its hallucinogenic properties, so I make a note to buy some.

Next up are a duo of ice creams, Bavarian tea, which tastes like the best cup of tea you’ve ever had and a fresh pine syrup that tastes and smells like a cold, brisk walk through an alpine forest.

In a Nutshell

As we stumble out into the night, we’re a little discombobulated. We’re Alice tumbling back up the rabbit hole and onto a busy Baker Street; hallucinating daikon bunnies, repeatedly uttering the word ‘delicate’ and wondering if it were all a dream. Because, it’s not just the food and the branding that is on point here, it’s as if we’ve had dinner with a family (albeit a family with excellent culinary skills.) Dining at Mayha is a little sentimental and a lot of fun, so take someone you can giggle uncontrollably with. 

And it has inspired me, because whilst I do want to go to Japan and see the cherry blossom, I also want to go to Beirut so that I can visit all of the establishments owned by the Nothing but Love group.

The Details

Dinner at Mayha is served at 6.30pm or 9pm, costs £220.00 per person and is reservation only.

43 Chiltern Street, London, W1U 6LS




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