Chargrilled octopus and a mojito from MAYA.J//Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
“The timing was right, the talent is evident, and we trust each other,” says Eric Weinstein when asked about his business venture with chef Craig Wilson.
The philosophy shared by these high-school chums from Ardmore is what the two are counting on to propel their new MAYA.J—named after Weinstein’s kids, Maya and J (short for Jesse)—to the top of the ever-morphing Manayunk dining scene.
Wilson’s culinary skills span the globe, and he leads his kitchen with a diverse and sophisticated spin that integrates ambitious spicing and dappled sauces into sustainable, locally sourced creations under “Earth,” “Land” and “Sea” menu headings. Embracing Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Mediterranean, Spanish and modern American cuisines, the small plates are easily shareable and affordable.
The succulent Malaysian shrimp and milk-tenderized squid special was sautéed in ginger, then drizzled with a peppery peanut sauce. The heat paired well with a cooling Cucumber Fix martini and a well-garnished, bourbon-bitten Elijah Craig old-fashioned. A fresh, tongue- tingling must-have, the crunchy tacos came loaded with spiced chunks of potatoes, seitan hash, avocado, soybeans and toasted pepitas, all layered colorfully with cabbage-and-cilantro salad.
Other standouts included tender fried tofu Szechuan and a thick-gravied short-rib dish. There are also a number of vegan and gluten-free options.
Averaging $8 a glass, atypical wine selections leave space in the budget for the scrumptious, ramekin-filled whipped-pumpkin bread pudding.
4731 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 297-8961.