1629 Yew St, Vancouver, BC V6K 3E6
Phone: (604) 737-1155
Recently, Air Canada released their highly anticipated list of new restaurants in Canada. Mak N Ming is among 1 of the 4 restaurants for Vancouver. My co-worker shows me the list and asks the usual questions – are they really that good? They all look very fancy (and expensive). Well, I said… let’s go and let me be the judge. 😄
Calling Mak N Ming a “hidden gem” is not a overstatement, in the Kitsilano area, there are good numbers of great restaurants. Mak N Ming is quietly hidden away near Kits beach. It doesn’t have a fancy exterior, maybe most noticeable with the red cedar porch/patio which is currently empty. The crowd from next door – the Zen Cafe can easily hide it due to the constant line up on the weekends. We almost walked to the wrong place. 😔
Reservations can be made easily online via OpenTable, due to the small, less than 10 tables capacity, as soon as I step into the restaurant, I start to notice the efficient use of the limited space. At the entrance, there is a tiny 2×2 waiting area; in the middle, there is a long island counter that where glasses, cups and menus are held; at the back, it’s the small kitchen, the bar/dishwashing area and a large walk-in freezer. There are jars of kombucha being fermented on the floating shelf for certain “special” dishes.
The narrow restaurant incorporate many Japanese storage wisdom, from the light boxes on the wall, floating shelves on the high ceiling, the under-seating benches are all storage area. The use of smooth finish gives a very clean, non-cluttered feel and doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
The owners – Makoto Ono (Mak) and Amanda Cheng (Ming) are busy working, but they are hard to miss because of the small place. This morning, while Mak is preparing meals in the kitchen, Amanda is busy alternating serving dishes and washing dishes. They have 2 other waiting persons and 1 other chef in the kitchen, it’s amazing to see they are in harmony like clockworks.
I guess because of the cozy environment, service is attentive. Our waitress takes her time clarifying the differences and makes recommendation to my demanding wife as she wants to try everything ☺️. Our waitress (forgot her name) picks one randomly for her at the end when I am contemplating between the brunch bowl or the chicken tenders.
To me, it’s always fun and adventurous to try new restaurants, especially when brunches are popping everywhere in Vancouver. We tend to use brunch to sample the restaurant to determine if we would go again for dinner. Mak N Ming does not disappoint. Each dishes we order looks artistically plated, oddly the dishes don’t give strong “good” smell. I think part of the success of Japanese cuisine is that they don’t always smelly, they simply just taste delicious.
I order the chicken tenders and wife orders the Okonomi-Hash. Mine comes with 2 lightly breaded chicken strips, onsen egg (soft poached), quinoa, greens and the “star” home made mustard sauce. The chicken strips are tender, moist and comes out lightly deep fried. The greens are arugula and daikon. The onsen egg is like a volcano, the yolk just exploded when I poke it – it’s is done perfect!! The mustard sauce reassemble a runny wasabi with a sweet tone, it’s just Asian familiarity. It doesn’t taste like the western mustard at all. I really like this execution as I feel like I am eating chicken waffle in Yolk!
Wife says Okonomi-Hash is all right, I can see there are potatoes, cabbage, red ginger, bulldog sauce, edamame, a sprinkle of bonito flakes. The presentation is lively as the bonito flakes move, this reminds me the famous okonomiyaki (Japanese savory crepe). The idea of of fusioning a Japanese snack for breakfast is awesome.
Because they are running a weekly waffle promo, today we have the buckwheat waffle. It is served with white chocolate mousse, black sesame butter and seasonable vegetables. I love the design of the plate, it’s attractive to kids with the lady bug and I love the selections of fruits and drizzles of matcha powder for a rainbow looking dish. The waffle is larger than we thought (compare to Chambar), the mousse is not overly sweet, and the waffle is non-sweetened. It goes very well with the mousse alone but the included syrup is for those who want some extra sweetness. The waffle is thick, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I think we spent too much time taking photos and sadly it gets a little cold 😩. However it is just as good. The bitterness from the matcha powder lightened the sweetness on occasions where I go crazy on the mousse.
Wife says the waffle saves the meal, but I have to disagree with her… 😅 I think the whole meal is great and the waffle is simply outstanding as dessert.
Fusion dishes need to take a lot of risks, with a Chinese and Japanese chef joining efforts (when both cultures have a long delicate culinary history), I think Mak N Ming offers something uniquely different in the Kitsalano area. Our brunch dishes are amazing! The beautifully designed plates, paired with Asian influenced preparation methods, it offers dishes that no other places could offer. Given the small location, I can’t imagine the increased difficulties in preparation. I really look forward to try their 6-course menu at another time.