Meaning “every time”, maido is a friendly Japanese greeting to thank (usually attached to arigato gozaimasu which means thank you) customers for the continued patronage. It never misses the capacity to brighten up someone’s salutation before leaving a place. Maido is the name that Costanza Zanolini gave to the restaurant that specializes in Osaka-style Japanese street food that she and her friends opened in Italy. First in Milano in 2014 then another one in 2015 and most recently in June of 2021 in Rome. Their constant participation and success in Japanese food festivals in some key cities in Italy guarantee their absolute dedication to the authenticity of Japanese cuisine.
According to the founders of Maido, “We have always cherished this dream. After Milan, where it all started in April 2014, we immediately thought of Rome, but in 2015 we were literally ‘kidnapped’ by the Expo and what came from it in terms of initiatives. Then other projects followed and in 2019 we were finally ready, only to collide with a global pandemic. Today, here we are, Covid has not stopped our determination: with the enthusiasm that has always distinguished us, Maido has finally landed in Rome. We are also happy because there are so many inhabitants of the capital who have written to us in recent years asking to open. We have kept our promise!”
The flagship dish of Maido is the okonomiyaki, a savory pancake born in Osaka. It is made with batter, shredded cabbage, tenkasu (tempura bits), Japanese yam and your choice of other ingredients which can be anything from meat to seafood, grilled on an iron griddle then topped with a variety of condiments. The basic condiments are okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and aonori (dried seaweed flakes). Meaning “grilled as you like it”, okonomiyaki can be adaptable to anyone’s liking of what ingredients to put.
However, the proposals at Maido don’t end with okonomiyaki. There are a lot of other possibilities to immerse yourself to the world of Japanese street food like a variety of onigiri, the triangular-shaped rice filled with salty fillings; sakana, salty snacks usually served with sake; takoyaki, octopus meat balls covered with takoyaki sauce; and katsu sando, bread sandwich filled with crispy breaded pork cutlets. There are also the rice and soba-based bowls with meat, fish and tofu like the yakisoba and ramen. And of course doroyaki, the famous pancakes filled with azuki jam as well as mochi, another popular sweet snack made of chewy rice dough filled with various fillings.
The atmosphere in Maido is characterized by simple but refined furnishings that immerse customers in an imaginary world. The restaurant can accommodate about 35 people when fully operational (15 to 20 if with Covid restrictions) and another 15 seats on the external terrace.The restaurant is equipped with raw wood counters and tables with iron stools, which give the place a warm, modern and informal look, in line with the proposed street food experience.
In keeping its street food style, the prices are also very reasonable. Okonomiyaki are around €8, onigiri at €3, rice burgers at €8, takoyaki at €8.50, katsu sandwich at €9.50, and rice and soba bowls between €8 to €12.