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Though Maido has been open since 2005, it's still an under-the-radar spot. It seduces only those who think supermarket sushi is a travesty and traditional Japanese delicacies are almost too pretty to eat. Don't expect to see a crowd of hipsters and bloggers here. Instead, the tables will most likely be filled with Asian families and customers who have been coming here so long, they seat themselves wherever they darn well please. The place, tucked into a nondescript plaza with requisite glaring neon signs on storefront windows and butter-colored walls, isn't much to look at. But who cares? Its menu is divine, offering items as basic as corn croquettes and deep-fried rice cakes and as complex as squid sashimi, silverfish tempura, and chicken gizzards with yuzu. Look for it on the wall, written with marker on whiteboards. (Or just ask a server to bring out whatever the chef recommends. Chef/owners Genya and Hiroshi can always be found here). Though it may not tempt you as much as a bottle of Dom and an overpriced dinner at the same damn place you go to every year, stop in on January 1, 2, or 3 to try oshechi, a platter of symbolic, prismatic, sensation-stirring dishes. It's the right way to kick off a new year.
Real Japanese food aficionados stuck in the United States live for the moment they find a local restaurant so good and so authentic that they can just hand the menu back to their server and exclaim, "Let the chef bring me whatever he'd like." Maido is that kind of place, except for one little detail: The extensive specials are written on marker boards so there's no need to do the paper swap. Bonus: Each time you dine here, the experience is entirely unique. Make a habit of surrendering to... More »
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