The heart of a neighbourhood often lies in its restaurants. These are the places locals gather and deepen community ties. Trends come and go but the need and demand for community gathering places will remain. There is dissonance between trendiness and longevity in restaurants. The best will remain modern but focus more on community than on ‘scene’ creation. In my view Mak N Ming achieves this balance well. It is a restaurant worth driving to dine at, but its scale and warmth also denote community gathering. While not cheap, Mak N Ming is worth regular returns.
While I am not a restaurant reviewer, I dine out frequently and obviously pay keen attention to wine programs. There is real passion in this restaurant for delivering something that hasn’t been done before in Vancouver. There are only two options: a shorter 4 course set menu and a larger chef’s tasting menu. While you can order wine by the bottle, the real focus here is the innovative wine pairings chosen for the ever-changing seasonal menu. You will not get the standard choices here but instead Roger Maniwa (formerly of Hawksworth) has assembled fascinating selections like Arlaud Passetoutgrain with duck confit and Japanese plum wine with a chocolate, squash cake dessert. This is the sort of innovative wine program I like to see in the city. Small but very carefully curated to the guest experience in line with the aesthetic of the space and the food, and regularly changing just like the menu.
The space is small and has a wonderful aesthetic. The food from chefs Amanda Cheng and Makoto Ono is asian-heavy fusion with west coast ingredients, but there is real personality here. Cheng and Ono met in Hong Kong’s culinary world and helped open Pidgin in Vancouver. This is not just another ‘pacific northwest fusion’ restaurant.
Mak N Ming is the sort of innovative restaurant that needs support and deserves patronage as it is pushing the city’s dining scene forward in its own unique way. I think the food, while very good now, will continue to dial in as the restaurant gains steam. And it is just the sort of place that should develop a dedicated community of regulars that will hopefully make it a permanent fixture in the city.