Ovation for Oliver Maki

Last week I visited probably one of the best restaurants I have ever been to and upon leaving the wonderful gentleman who provided all of the evening’s food and information about the food said ‘I hope you enjoyed the experience’, this sums up exactly how I wanted to remember this, such an incredible experience, beyond just the food or the presentation.

The service was impeccable, never did my glass get to less than half full, (optimist), each course was served in perfect fluidity with the last. The staff were friendly, helpful and attentive above all else. The attention to detail was second to none and quite honestly, I lost almost two hours in this restaurant in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Before you all start screaming at the screen, I should probably tell you where I went, well close to Piccadilly Circus, is the bustling Dean Street and there you will find Oliver Maki.

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Yes, Oliver Maki the Japanese restaurant that features Mediterranean textures and flavours in their food is quite possibly the most outstanding restaurant I have ever been to. Seating only 28 it is clear that this is restaurant focused on quality over quantity, however, that is not to be said about the portions, as I sat and devoured over 10 plates of food. Whilst in this gorgeous Zen backdrop,  it is impossible to not be entirely immersed in this dining experience.

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The vegan options were vast and so varied, from salads, hot and cold, to tofu steaks and tacos, this restaurant has every texture and flavour combination down to a tea and it was all served seamlessly.  I also had Yuzuade which was a welcomed thirst quencher and ideal for palate cleanser in between courses. Yuzu is a small citrus fruit that is a small grapefruit, it is the perfect balance of all things sour and sweet.

Upon arrival into the restaurant you are given a tablet, this had the menu on it, with images of each dish and its ingredients, perfect for anyone who is unsure of what to order. It also adds an element of fun to the meal and I kept mine to keep referring back to during the meal. I loved this!

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Starting with some gorgeous pardon peppers swiftly followed by a beautiful Forest Haze Salad, this was absolutely stunning and such a great start to a meal, the salad was a wonderful combination of red quinoa, carrots, mushrooms, avocado served with a rich dressing.

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Next was the Tofu Tacos, something surprisingly I have never tried before but will be trying again! They were to die for, with such a superb variety of flavour, the crispness of the tacos juxtaposed with the soft and flavoursome tofu was a texture combination that really worked.

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Followed by a Wakame Tabbouleh Salad, this was divine, I really enjoyed looking sophisticated eating this with chopsticks, it was so delicious, that I started by moving the salad from the bowl to my plate and eating it from there, to just eating it straight from the bowl. The Wakame was absolutely delicious, it paired so well with the tabbouleh and this dish was finished in no time at all.

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On to the next course, which was a hot tofu salad, this blew my mind it was such a simple concept and yet had so much flavour.

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At this point, I would also like to thank the staff for the continual refill of my ginger bowl and it worked so well with every dish, I got through a good 5 servings. I also had copious amounts of wasabi and to get back on topic, I paired this dish with their delicious soya sauce that same with 7 Japanese spices, all complimenting in flavour and taste, making this an outstanding salad. Tofu is one of my favourite things to eat and I don’t believe anyone who says they don’t like it because you can cook it in so many different ways, something that the chef at Oliver Maki, seemingly knows all too well.

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The next two dishes were just sushi heaven, they had worked out the flavour combinations to an impeccable standard. The first plate of sushi came delicately assembled with tofu, carrot and cucumber in each roll. 4 sliced into rounds the last 2 into decadent a display. Needless to say, it looked stunning.

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The second plate of sushi was something so delightful I genuinely would have been satisfied if I had been served only thing, it was such an opulent plate of food. Sushi made with brown rice because these people think of everything, even digestion! The sushi was made with different textures and flavours, with mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergine all making an appearance. This elegant plate of food tasted even better than it looked and this was not an easy accomplishment.

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After this beautiful section of this majestic banquet was concluded, it was then time to try the fried rice, boiled rice and the tofu steak which came with vegetables and a creamy, slightly sweet sauce. This paired with the 2 rice dishes created such a traditional balance of textures and flavours, with a slight edge, as I was beginning to learn this restaurant did not like to stick to the rules entirely. This completed the epicurean exodus through the savoury section of the evening.

 

The dessert I was certain was going to be something special and I was not wrong. Being vegan sorbet is often the only choice on the menu for dessert and so I usually opt for a fresh mint tea instead, that being said this was no ordinary sorbet, no, my friends, this was a Yuzu sorbet and I have been thinking about it ever since. It was so good that I ate the dried decorative slice, in a bid for the dish to never end.

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I am completely in awe of Yuzu the flavour that this fruit brings is something quite unique the sharpness and the sweetness worked so well, as these are the two components you want to convey on the palate with any sorbet, this just oozed flavour. It cleansed the palate superbly, just in time to humbly thank the wonderful staff and be on my way back home. Well, actually I stopped off at the Japan Centre to see I could purchase some yuzu as I couldn’t bear to think of not eating it again immediately.

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