The recently opened Maiya Rice Canteen, located in Anken Air on Zhenning Lu is a new outpost for the Happy Place Hospitality Group, the team behind Egg, Bird, Bitter, La Matcha, and Lucky Mart. It is a quiet and stylishly furnished venue with shaded outdoor seating, designed to serve as a community center for health-focused foodies, artisan markets, local products and food and beverage educational events. The concept is equally simple – Southeast Asian fusion dishes made with high quality ingredients that are all served with rice or rice alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With Chef Jaime Pea (of Egg fame) running the kitchen, it's no surprise that the food is cooked with passion, each dish with a unique story behind it. Drawing upon her partial Taiwanese heritage, her take on luroufan the Braised Omnipork (RMB60) is currently the only version in China that uses Omnipork, a delicious plant-based meat alternative that appeals to vegetarians and carnivores alike. The crispy yet meaty Omnipork Meatballs (RMB50) are coated in breadcrumbs and topped with hazelnuts, a standout appetizer that we will gladly return for.
Truffled Bamboo Shoots (RMB40) is an excellent balance of earthy and tart, a refreshing palate cleanser between other bites. The Tomato Salad (RMB50) is another noteworthy dish that contrasts sweet tomatoes with crispy puffed rice, creamy miso tofu cheese, crunchy greens and herbaceous salsa verde.
Braised Omnipork (RMB60)
Tomato Salad (RMB50)
Out of the main courses, we would order the Miso Cod (RMB75) again and again. The beautifully cooked MSC-certified Icelandic cod stands out, paired with a simple side of sautéed sugar snap peas and carrots.
Miso Cod (RMB75)
Curry Chicken (RMB55) – also available in Tofu Curry (RMB45) for non-meat eaters – is a mix of meaty chicken thigh pieces nestled in a homemade Japanese curry sauce, sweetened and thickened using a 'roux' of bananas and apples, rather than the usual butter and flour. Okra, butternut squash, baby sweet corn and watercress are welcome additions for more curry sauce consumption.
Chicken Curry (RMB55)
Beef Teriyaki (RMB65) is juicy meat marinated in a homemade cherry-based teriyaki glaze, served with a simple coleslaw. As a rice canteen, it's only fitting that Maiya offers three rice options: organically sourced white and brown rice, a blend of quinoa and buckwheat or raw cauliflower rice (RMB8-10). Come during the (long) lunch hours of 10am-5pm Monday-Sunday and enjoy your rice base included in the lunch set price. For those in the area, breakfast is also available daily from 9-11am.
Brunch is also a key part of the menu here, available Saturday and Sunday between 10am-5pm. The Shiso Avocado Toast (RMB65) is our savory brunch of choice, a filling dish that swaps out the usual bread for a base of crispy rice ‘toasts’ topped with sliced avocado, roasted mushrooms, tofu crême fraiche, a sweet soy glaze, house pickles and a plump poached egg.
Shiso Avocado Toast (RMB65)
Maiya also has a wide selection of rice-based liquors that span from sake to huangjiu to even baijiu. Sample their selections of libations during Happy Hour that runs Wednesday-Friday from 3-8pm. Wednesday focuses on beer, Thursday on sake and Friday is all about the wine.
Food verdict 2/3
The friendly staff, relaxing music, stylish yet minimalistic furnishings and natural lighting give the venue a relaxed and open-air feel that encourages patrons to linger. The abundant display of ceramics, one-of-a-kind postcards and locally produced wines and rice-based beverages near the main entrance adds to the inviting artisanal vibe. Post up with your laptop, order a matcha latte and enjoy the afternoon.
Vibe verdict 1.5/2
Total Verdict 3.5/5
Price: RMB100-200 per person (depending on appetite)
Who’s going: Lunch workers, health-conscious eaters, vegetarians and Asian fusion food lovers
Good for: Healthy foodies, vegetarians, and rice-based liquor drinkers
[Photos courtesy of Maiya Rice Canteen]