Wednesday, May 25, 2011

mexican/new in town: MAYAN GRILL



MAYAN GRILL
No. 6, Lane 65, Zhongshan N. Rd, Sec. 2
(02) 2511-6292

MRT Shuanglian

website: mayangrill.com

hours: 11:30AM - 11PM (Closed Mondays)

$$

Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 3/29/2011


How can you not be excited that another Mexican restaurant has opened in Taipei? Opened in late March 2011, Mayan Grill offers a range of Mexican eats beyond tacos and burritos in a beautiful, two story restaurant near the Ambassador Hotel. Brunch is also available on weekends and I heard chorizo was going to be on the menu!



Mayan Grill's all day dining menu includes crispy and soft tacos, burritos, salads and rice bowls in varying lunch sets including soup, salad and rice, while a slow set would also include chips and salsa, coffee/tea and daily dessert (NT$249-499). They also have a dinner menu with other entrees that we didn't get to check out since their menus hadn't come in from the printers yet! 


It's always hard to judge a restaurant during its soft opening- service and food is still getting worked out, staff is getting trained and it's a time for the restaurant to get feedback and adjust, so keep that in mind that things might be different since I've eaten there a few months ago. I was also an invited guest, and the things I ate were mostly items that the owner thought we should try from their lunch menu and the dishes were plated to be shared with a large group. (Disclosure- I received this meal for free from Mayan Grill, but the opinions expressed are my own. No compensation was received.)

My favorites were the hot, crispy flautas and baked enchiladas, which would make a good meal by themselves. I'd definitely order these again and these are hard to find items around Taipei. A long time ago in 2004/2005, I used to order the taquitos from Cheers at the Grand Hyatt, but they've long disappeared from the menu there.


The enchiladas weren't as "wet" as I was used to with extra sauce on the plate, but I dug the baked in flavors of the cheese, sauce and meat. You can choose between red sauce or green.


There were three salsas that we sampled with our basket of chips, and the consensus on the favorite was a red pepper salsa which had an addictive sweetness, while the three chile salsa was way too spicy for me.


The taco rice bowl is topped with shredded lettuce and sauces and the green rice can be topped with chicken, pork, ground beef or steak.


I liked the tortilla soup, but had to fish out the soggy tortilla strips out of the soup and the soup needed to be served hotter. I prefer it when the tortilla strips are sprinkled on top so that they retain a semi-crunch.


I was disappointed by Mayans' burritos and tacos, especially in contrast to my experiences with Macho Tacos (for half the price) or what I'd get in LA. The burrito seemed more like a wrap with not enough meat and fillings and each bite seemed like mostly tortilla. It needed a lot more meat. Some might be disappointed that there are also no beans available on the menu yet.


The hard shell crispy tacos were better than the soft fish tacos... 



I was not a fan of the fish soft tacos as they were made that day. At first, when we looked at it, we were unsure if it was fish or chicken, as the meat was flaky/shredded and overwhelmed by the cabbage. It would have been great if there were good sized strips of grilled fish so you could taste and see it. Again, I think I was definitely comparing it with the fish tacos from Macho where the primary focus is the fish.


The housemade Diablo sauce is try at your own risk, or if you want to "sweat, cry or both." I was too chicken to try this, but you can request that your meal come Diablo style if you're looking for some heat.


The chocolate cake dessert was sinfully good- with a moist, dense chocolate flavor that was a great way to end the meal.


With other Taipei sit down Mexican joints La Casita El Gallo and Yuma having closed down this past year, Mayan Grill will vie with the also newly opened Eddy's Cantina in Tianmu to be numero uno "sit down" Mexican in town. (Is it kind of sad that I've just written off Amigo and Tequila Sunrise?) The owner, Erik, brings his love for food and experiences from Southern California and seems passionate about making it work. I could imagine that Mayan Grill could be a great place for happy hour with some margaritas and finger foods, or for accommodating large groups or parties.  I spied fresh avocados/guacamole, as well as steak and sopes on their Facebook page which looked tempting and maybe worth another visit to try. Has anyone been- what did you think? Where is your favorite Mexican restaurant in town so far?


8 comments:

Fernando said...

This place attracted me for the only good thing they have: Bohemia Mexican Beer... sent from heaven. Out of that... The staff had no idea what they where doing, period. From kitchen to door, a total mess. The flour tortillas in the fish tacos came cold and just straight from their plastic package, not even met the pan... the green salsa was an ephemeral pleasure... just enough for like 4 chips and taste out of the can. Enchiladas de Pollo where so-so, not like what you expect for ~350 nts, right? Then, we we asked for more chips they told us each serving was ~100 nts!!! Come on? Really?? I was afraid so I asked how much it was for the 2 glasses of water I have drunk before!!! The only expectation I had when I go to a place called "Mayan Grill" is to, actually have at least, -1- mayan (yucateco) dish. Not at all. Salsa "Devil's Tears"... ok, who ordered cliché? Come on, as a Mexican I hate when people think our food is just to show how "man" you are by eating chiles one after the other, so, not even need to mention no one in our table even looked at that. Like the hungry girl said, better save your money and go to a place with honest prices like Macho Taco. I wish some times there will be a Food Police, so places like this will be closed right away, and the chef imprisoned for desecrating the name of Mexican Food. Epilogue... The Bohemia beer was... 250 nts a bottle... guess if I want to go back to this place? It´s cheaper to book my flight back to my beloved Mexico City!

maston said...

Tried their weekend brunch this weekend and were kind of disappointed.

Even the place was almost empty when we came, we were placed at the bar as all tables were reserved. It was still half empty when we left.

NT$400 for a "brunch" that didn't include anything more than the dish itself. Coffee was NT$50 extra.

Staff didn't seem to be very well trained. Poor service both in English and Chinese. As the brunch menu was only written on a sign outside of the restaurant it was difficult to order and understand what we were ordering.

We wont be back...

joanh said...

fernando: thanks for taking the time to share your experience! i think that's the downfall of a lot of the sit down restaurants in taipei. if you're going to charge more money than the "hole in the wall" then you need to do things like have free chips and salsa (or at least refills!) and good service. thanks for the comment..

maston: sad to hear that about the brunch and the service. i agree, a weekend brunch should def include coffee or tea. if you read this, what was on the weekend brunch dish?

Jason said...

I was in Taipei for the weekend recently, and had heard about this place from a friend so I thought I would check it out. Coming from Tokyo we are lacking in fresh Mexican places and the places tend to do more of a fried tex-mex style which I like but find hard to eat on a regular basis.

I have eaten my share of Mexican in all parts of the world and to say this was good Mexican food for Taipei or even for Asia, would be an understatement. This is good Mexican food period...anywhere you go this place would be one of the better Mexican in the area, and in Taipei, it's hands down the best.

The service was fine, I suspect the other reviewers went there before they worked out the kinks. I didn't have fish tacos, but what I did have was Guacmole which was nicely chilled and full of lime, cilantro and all the flavors I want in my guac. The Chiole (Sp?) Chicken is an amazing dish, you need to get a bite of everything at once to fully appreciate it. I though the chicken flautas were delicious and the chicken enchiladas even better. I love spicy foods and the Diablo sauce did not disappoint, it was spicy but not short on flavor...so I could care less if they want to use cliche' phrases, it tasted GOOD. Brownie for desert was rich and delicious.

I actually went back on Sunday for brunch, had more of their great margaritas and the steak burrito which was fresh, not too cheesy, and didn't weigh me down after eating it like tex-mex style does. It is clear that they are putting a focus on being fresh and healthy with their foods and I like that a lot.

Price wise...wow, I would never call this place expensive or even overpriced, it is a lot cheaper than any chain restaurant in Taipei, and in line or cheaper with any of the decent sitdown places there...just because it is Mexican some might think it should be super cheap, I disagree, they make everything fresh, it even says on the menu that the avocados are seasonal, you can't expect good fresh food that isn't a Chinese staple to be priced at bargain basement prices.

Not only was I not offended by the price, I thought it was good value for what you get.

I went there twice in a weekend and will definitely be back next time I am in Taipei.

Oh...and the place was PACKED both days we were there....

Anonymous said...

Erik here from the Mayan Grill...

Thank you all so much for your feedback!  As a new restaurant, we’re especially keen to hear everyone’s thoughts and make adjustments where necessary.  I’m pleased to say that we’re off to a great start and have already developed a large and loyal following of repeat customers, many of whom have helped us improve through their comments and suggestions.  To name just one, we added more meat and salsa to our burritos in response to a few comments (including Hungry Girl’s) that they were a bit dry, and the results are great!

To those who haven’t tried us out yet, we serve both traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine in a sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere.  We use only the finest ingredients, and are committed to maintaining our high quality standards.  To our knowledge, we’re the only Mexican cantina in Taiwan that imports nearly all of our chiles, cheeses, tortillas, masa, avocados, tomatillos, vanilla, and spices - almost everything we use - from across the Pacific ourselves, and mostly from organic sources.  We use local produce providers recommended by AIT because of their commitment to uphold the high quality and safety standards we employ at the Grill.  

We use these ingredients to hand-make everything from our sauces and marinades to our amazing drinks and desserts in traditional Mexican (and sometimes, Central-American or Mexican-American) fashion, in-house, daily.  Our specially-imported beers, Bohemia, Modelo, and Sol, are only available at the Mayan Grill.  We bring these in ourselves because we believe that quality Mexican cuisine should be enjoyed with quality Mexican beers.  With an average entree cost of about 400nt, we offer a great value for such high-quality fare, and we offer lunch sets that include tacos, soup, salad, rice, and veggies, for as low as NT 249 on weekdays for our more price-sensitive customers.  We want everyone to be able to enjoy great food at great prices! 

We're thrilled that we've developed such a loyal following in such a short period of time, and that comes not only from serving a quality product at a fair price, but also from being attentive to your customers’ needs.  Whether your experience at the Grill is good or bad, we’re eager to hear your thoughts, so keep them coming!  

-Erik
Executive Chef & General Manager
Mayan Grill

Lewis said...

I heard about this restaurant from a friend and got to try it out last night. I got to try the beef enchilada, chicken enchilada and the Tortilla soup. All were very excellent, the taste was very flavorful and i especially like the lime in the soup. The devil's blood is kind of cliche but that's what i wanted and more. The staff were very friendly and helpful but they do need more training on the menu. Overall the food is good and only thing is that the food is a bit expensive for regular visits. 2 entree, a soup, a margarita and a beer total about 1500NT. If there are set menus for dinner that will be great too.

Syl said...

sincerely, this place is highly deceiving:
- food is not tasty at all
- prices are high
a one time place by mistake.

Carrie said...

A friend of ours recommended that we visit the Mayan grill because of the amazing food and ambience. We had a look at their website and thought it would be a nice place for a birthday/anniversary dinner. We were told that we had to go to the new location since the flagship restaurant only caters to large groups. We got all dressed up and ended up at their new location in Xinyi, which doesn't look anything like what's on their website. It looks like an Ikea kitchen. The menus are printed on paper and stapled together, plus they were filthy. We had looked at the menu online before we left and some of those items weren't even on the menu. The manager came over and said she'd make us what we wanted, but what we wanted was what was on the website. If they're going to insist on sending couples to their new location in Xinyi, they should let customers know in advance that only half the menu is available and that it doesn't look like what's in the photos on their website. We didn't stay. Their website is VERY misleading.

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