If you are traveling to a new city and would like something to eat, you might find it tricky to choose a place to dine in. Some people might just go to the International franchise or even fastfood restaurant.
But for a truly food lover or someone who has budget, they usually will find the best place in the entire country. There are many ways to actually find it. You can find it in the tourism brochure, ask the recommendation from the locals if you know any, read the review from the magazines, or there is a more quantitative way to figure it out: Trip Advisor.
As a really small country (780 km2) with only around 1 million inhabitants, Bahrain has quite a big number of restaurants all especially in the capital Manama. Trip Advisor itself records 239 restaurants (the actual number must be times 3-4), ranging from a 2×2 meters street diner to more than 2 floored fine dining restaurants in premium places. And guess who’s on top of the top? Make no mistake, it won’t be an authentic Middle Eastern cuisine as -at least I- expected, it’s actually a fine Japanese restaurant called Maki
Located in Bahrain World Trade Centre (Kinda Dubai’s Burj Al Arab or Toronto’s CN Tower version of Bahrain) which is well known as the most famous shopping centre in the Kingdom (Seriously, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, and the only outlet that I’m willing to spend my money in is just Caribou Coffee), Maki sets up a good standard if they want to be recognized as a prestigious restaurant. I came there last week with family for Iftar. I don’t know it’s usual or not but parking is not that much of an issue since we could park our car right in front of the restaurant.
“Irrashaimase!” greeted everyone when we entered the door. The waitress escorted us to the table as we chose the ground floor. When we sat, I was excited when we were given some iPads, that would look sophisticated and fast forward if the restaurant have their own system in the iPad for us to order by ourselves. But I guess it wasn’t that sophisticated, what they showed us was just bunch of folders of menu pictures in the iPad’s photo gallery. So actually, we still do it manually and say it to the waiters of what we want, it’s just we choose it from an expensive device instead of the usual menu paper. I think I just understand, they want it to be looked as a cool thing but they’re also afraid that it might cause too much problem due to it’s complication of using it so then they just go with this idea. But honestly my thought that it was just flop. Either you go hi-tech, or just use paper menu, there’s no in between. Duhhh!
But whatever though, I was more excited about the food as its big name as the number 1 restaurant in Bahrain. Wohooo. So let’s go talk about stomach thing: hit me with your best food!
We ordered two starters based on the recommendation of the waiter. First one was Oliver Kale Salad; salmon, crabsticks, kale, avocado, cucumber, rocca, assorted lettuce, wasabi nori flakes, with wasabi-oli sauce. I LOVED IT! I always adore salad and this signature dish of theirs was just all i wanted for my iftar. Despite of the fact that I couldn’t really tell I tasted salmon or not, everything other just blend perfectly in my mouth. We went all vegan for the second one which was Tartofu Red Quinoa Salad; Red quinoa, pine nut, dried cranberry, celery leaves, cherry tomato, avocado, rocket, coriander, truffles, with their house made extra virgin olive oil. As far as I could remember, that would be the first time I ate Red quinoa (it’s like an edible seeds from a grain crop) and I fell in love for the first time. It tasted great yet healthy, that kind of food which give you the effect of no worrying of gaining some weight at all. If they say appetizers are aimed to raise your appetite before the big party, these two salads successfully raised my appetite to the high level. So I kinda expect much for the next dishes.
As the restaurant’s name, we ordered the food that they must serve best: Maki. First one was New Wave Maki; chopped salmon, spring onion, sesame, togarashi, and crispy tempura with their spicy sauce. You know what, actually they were just fine. It’s not that they weren’t delicious, they were delicious, I mean “just fine “that you can actually meet them somewhere else. #SorryNotSorry. We had the second one called Boodai Crunchy Maki; salmon, greens, and crispy tempura with special sweet & spicy sauce. Let’s have a pause for second to the word crispy. I don’t know it might be because there was the delay of the pick up or what but it was not crispy at all. duhhh! Besides, I could also barely taste the special sweet & spicy sauce. The Maki taste was still just fine though, we (actually I) finished all of the Maki before we left the restaurant. Anyways, this might be too personal but I felt that the shoyu was just too salty.
We went all pescatarian without having meat or chicken by ordering two more dishes which are Mixed Tempura; prawn, vegetable, white fish, and cuttlefish, which again, I thought was just too standard compare to other places that we could get the same taste. But I did realize it was also our responsibility though, I mean what could you expect from a basket of tempura? lol. The last dish was Crispy Dragon Prawn; flavourful battered shrimp, servid with freshly cut mixed vegetables, and special sweet and chili sauces. Everyone was too full but as I liked prawn so I got the honour of finishing it. I kinda liked the sauce and the prawn, it was creamy and not that spicy. I thought it was just proper.
One thing that needs to be paid attention is the price. Even for Bahrain standard, they’re kinda pricy (I don’t put the price on purpose, go here and see by yourselves) but that was totally expected remembering their location and their big name all the way from Kuwait. The other thing from this place which I really loved was the light as I don’t really enjoy dark restaurants. It gave you the warm feeling to be inside as all lights were just perfect in Maki. The interior is not really Japanese authentic but they’re fine. In a way, it gave me home feeling instead. The service was also friendly. The manager himself came to our table and checked. The food came fast and mostly fresh to our table.
Overall, it was quite an experience to enjoy the Trip Advisor’s version of number 1 restaurant in Bahrain. It was not that perfect but it was not bad at all either. It might not be that kinda restaurant that I would go to regularly (maybe will not go again until I leave Bahrain) not because it was bad, more into it’s just not my type of place. But it’s just great when people asked me whether I’ve been to Maki or not and I could say: “yeah I did, I even made my own review about it.”