HAD enough of insipid sweet and sour and unimaginative fried rice? Well now there is an alternative on the Costa del Sol.
I popped along to try Mao at Riviera del Sol having heard nothing but good things since it opened on April 9 – and I was not to be disappointed.
The good vibes started the moment I walked through the door – it is part of the Max Beach complex – and was greeted by manager Ignacio. Heading up a young and friendly team he kept a watchful eye over proceedings. Not that he needed to – the service was excellent. The well trained waiters were knowledgeable about the food – just as well as I did not recognise many of the dishes created by the talented chefs brigade.
But with a little guidance, we selected a meal that did not disappoint. Head chef Patrice Godino has brought all his French flair to bear in composing a series of stunning dishes.
He has spent years in the Far East and fused techniques and ingredients from all over the region to give the Chinese dishes a twist.
Roasted meat is among the stars on the menu, with the Royal Mao Chinese Barbeque looking particularly attractive: half a crispy duck, half a Special Cantonese Chicken and Char Siu Pork, all served with pancakes.
But just being two of us, we decided to explore the menu further and ordered the Mao Signature Bao buns – three substantial bao stuffed with truffled Peking Duck, Char Siu pork and Crispy Chinese Chicken.
Good move. Served with a sweet Chinese sauce, they gave us a taste of the barbeque specials in a manageable portion.
A second ‘small dish’ (these are actually pretty sizable portions) was a King Crab and grapefruit salad, which gave the perfect kick of acidity to go with the sweeter baos.
While we waited for the mains we took in the excellent sea views from this raised beachfront location – and toasted each other with happy anticipation of the culinary delights to come.
We were intrigued by the Lo Mai Gai – sticky steamed rice with Char Siu pork, salted duck egg and chicken, all wrapped in lotus leaves.
Brought to the table as a small ‘bomb’ type package, the aromas released as we sliced it open were sensational.
Ignacio had recommended something a touch lighter to go with it – in this case fish.
He was absolutely spot on. We tried the We had been a little worried that the spice would overwhelm the delicate flesh of the fish, but needn’t have worried. We also tucked into Asian Steamed Sea Bass with ponzu sauce which was spot-on.
By the time we had polished off the mains there was no room for dessert – or so we thought. After a little digestion we shared a Matcha Tea Creme Brulee. It very nearly outshone what had gone before. A perfectly caramelised topping complemented the rich custard perfectly.
It was now time to waddle home after a substantial meal – with the immediate thought that ‘we will be back’ foremost in our minds.
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