BEIRUT: Walking into Mayha, an Omakase restaurant seating 11 people in Mar Mkhayel, felt like hopping on a jet for a quick getaway outside of Lebanon.
If you're looking for heavy mayonnaise-based sauces, off-brand soy sauce, a copious amount of rice, and artificially dyed ginger, this is not the place to go.
With two Omakase, a type of meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef, (no menu!) options for lunch, nine courses for forty-five dollars, and twelve courses for seventy dollar options, in addition to a nineteen course for one hundred fifty dollars dinner option (excluding drinks and tax), you will likely end up with a hefty dinner bill. It’s well worth it.
There is, however, a drinks menu featuring a ‘pairing’ menu option consisting of imported sake, local wines, and other alcoholic beverages.
Each piece of fish is imported from Ghana, Japan, and the likes. A typical meal may include a generous portion of young sea brim, wild sea bass, salmon belly, wild Alaskan shrimp, yellowtail, toro, and akamai, that will subsequently melt in your mouth.
The yellowtail and salmon belly subsequently melted on my tongue. As a ginger-addict myself, I was pleased to cleanse my palette with Mayha’s in-house made ginger, chopped chunks of pickled ginger as opposed to thinly sliced dyed commercial ginger.
As for soy sauce, Chef Dawid chooses from three soy sauces, ranging in saltiness to best match the course.
Adding a, perhaps unexpected, Lebanese touch to the meal, Chef Dawid served a ‘knafeh’ ice cream dollop, served with crushed pistachios for dessert.
As the majority of the customer base are frequent comers, locals and visitors alike, the seasonal menu changes happen more frequently than normally thought.
Mayha is the most recent addition to the restaurant group that has produced some of Lebanon’s Foodie’s favorite spots. You may recognize the beetroot dyed Salmon at Meat the Fish, The oat milk latte at Backburner, the mouth-watering bar burger at SKIRT, or hummus with a twist at Maryool.
While each restaurant is distinct, they share the commonalities of intense passion, careful sourcing, and an aura of intimacy.
“Each brand is a product of passion,” Karim Arakji, owner of the restaurant group, told Annahar.
Arakji added that the curating is done by carefully selecting products he and his team personally love. “This is a very people-intensive business. I’m lucky to have really strong, opinionated, people within the group,” he said.
Regarding the name of the restaurant, Arakji told Annahar that it has several meanings. “I’m very passionate about sourcing. Mayha has several meanings in Arabic and Chinese: source, inclusion, success. It’s also interesting as it is not American and not typical Japanese,” he explained.
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