Where Chiyoda Sushi used to be now sits Mai Cuisine. On this Japanese outpost of a street, Mai serves the craving for a quick bite of healthy Japanese. The front section is filled with all kinds of Japanese lunch boxes for the midtown crowd and the back room opens up to a sit-down dining section. To clear up the confusion, only ordering from the menu earns you a seat in the back, which is well worth it too if you have a moment to spare.
Recently, Mai Cuisine is working up a healthy appetite for macrobiotics. In working with California’s M Cafe, it is pushing a new series of healthy plates. Before talking about the tasting, I’ll address the somewhat loaded term “macrobiotic.” I find mostly to be a dirty word: few bites, fewer calories, and a conspicuous lack of meat. This grain and vegetable focus is a painful change, but maybe not as painful as the heart attack I foresee having at the ripe age of 30.
The tasting started off with a scarlet quinoa salad (not pronounced ki-no-ah). The scarlet comes from the beet, with which a relationship can be hard to develop. I’ve only really started appreciating them this year (thanks CS!), so be brave and embrace the magenta grains and root.
The next was a line up of two salads. The first a dilled tofu salad, weighing in at a whopping 280 calories for the entire plate. The dill tofu was definitely a good contrast of texture with the crunch of the cucumbers and vegetable mix. Similarly the dill went well with the spicy dressing, as far as salads go, not bad. The next was a madras tempeh salad. Instead of the fried version I had in Indonesia, this tempeh was toasted and crumbled, making it all add up to 360 calories.
To end the meal on a happy carnivorous note, a nice salmon on a bed of brown rice with a “luxurious” peanut sauce. At under 500 calories, the dish is pretty much as you would expect at that energy level–decent, but lacking a bit of pizzaz.
Touted as as both authentic and fusion, Mai Cuisine is something of an anomaly. It has the traditional menu of sushi, sashimi, and rolls for those not willing to trade in the calories. At the same time, like you dipping your toes into beets and quinoa, Mai is venturing into the macrobiotics–perhaps at least one of you will meet with success.
From the notebook: Score reflects the healthy nature of the cuisine. Unfortunately when you take out the fat, you lose some of the flavor, but I suppose in the long run it’s better for you. This meal was complimentary, though we are not required to write, nor did it impact our views. We were big fans of the previous incarnation of this location Chiyoda Sushi, which has a similar layout, but less of an obsessive health focus.
What does this rating mean?
16 East 41st Street
New York, NY 10017