Vancouver Magazine - - News - BY Neal McLen­nan PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY An­drew Querner

Mak N Ming brings wild am­bi­tion to quiet Yew Street.

’ ne-din­ing scene had ob­served a gang land hit and needed to en­ter the wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram, there’d be worse places to hide out than on Kit­si­lano’s Yew Street. It’s an area where park­ing is non-ex­is­tent and where most din­ers are more in­ter­ested in the daily pint spe­cial than in an ob­scure Ital­ian aper­i­tivo that pairs well with a per­fectly poached peach. But it’s here—right smack dab in the laid-back salty air— that chef Makoto Ono has opened the el­e­gant Mak N Ming, a26-seat ode to Miche­lin-style ne din­ing.

Ono has al­ways been one of the coun­try’s most tal­ented, if per­plex­ing, chefs. He shot to na­tional ac­claim in 2007 by win­ning Canada’s rst Gold Medal Plates and, in true Ono style, he cap­i­tal­ized on his new fame by im­me­di­ately leav­ing the coun­try— rst for Bei­jing and then Hong Kong. Here turned to Van­cou­ver in 2012 to open Pid­gin, but the con­tro­versy around its lo­ca­tion over­shad­owed the good work be­ing done and he qui­etly ended his ten­ure there a few years back. There were ru­mours he had pulled a Daniel Day-Lewis and be­come a shmon­ger, but the ac­tual re­al­ity is equally as surprising. To call his new restau­rant abold move would be an un­der­state­ment: abold move is charg­ing for bread and but­ter or hav­ing a fully nat­u­ral wine menu. A high­con­cept tast­ing menu in the mid­dle of Van­cou­ver’s most ca­sual ’hood is bor­der­ing on per­for­mance art.

His part­ners in the Mak N Ming act are Amanda Cheng (in charge of pas­try) and the in­com­per­a­ble Roger Maniwa (he was this mag­a­zine’s Som­me­lier of the Year in 2016), who de­camped from the cushy en­vi­rons of Hawksworth to work in as­pace about the size of that es­teemed restau­rant’s coa­t­room. The in­te­ri­ors by Scott and Scott are el­e­gant with­out look­ing like they’re try­ing too hard (clean-look­ing blond wood, bent­wood chairs, honed-mar­ble ta­bles) and as airy as can be in less than 900 square feet. We start with a gratis glass of some­thing cre­ative and

sea­sonal and amenu so spare that it looks like E.E. Cum­mings wrote it. There are just two op­tions: the four-course $54 demi menu (if you’re in the mood for Hum­boldt squid, rutabaga, sea­weed) or the more ex­pan­sive $78 seven-course chef’s menu (if it’s an abalone, cu­cum­ber, black gar­lic sort of day). Both are laser fo­cused.

There are no safe-har­bour choices—like com­fort­ing pasta—sprin­kled into the lineup and even a dish that sound straight­for­ward—like chicken and rice—is in re­al­ity a high­wire in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Hainan clas­sic that in­volves un­ortho­dox tech­niques, in this case, slow-poach­ing a chicken breast and then be­ing con†dent enough to serve it un­adorned in all its white­ness with a scant scat­ter­ing of wild rice and con†t of chicken leg dot­ted like is­lands in a light broth. If you choose to go with Maniwa’s pair­ings ($43.50 for the chef’s menu), don’t ex­pect any soft­balls, ei­ther—sake and ver­mouth play key roles, and his com­pact list con­tains gems like a1999 Chenin Blanc from Saven­nières (a steal at $142). Cheng’s desserts loosen the reins… a lit­tle. A sum­mer peach pie is de­con­structed, but the spot-on in­gre­di­ents (a ripe Okana­gan peach poached in car­damom and gin­ger and served with a pâte brisée crust and cold vanilla cream) can’t help but be an ap­proach­able crowd pleaser.

By the time you read this, the menu will nodoubt be di˜er­ent— one imag­ines Ono shud­der­ing at hav­ing some­thing as hokey as a “sig­na­ture dish”—so what could one ex­pect? “Per­fec­tion” seems a bit grandiose, but it’s fair to say you’ll †nd no team in town that, night in and night out, is striv­ing to reach that lofty goal more so than the crew at Mak N Ming.

Chef Makoto Ono

Som­me­lier Roger Maniwa

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