Rice takes the center stage at hip canteen
Maiya Rice Canteen is a celebration of all things “local.”
Tucked inside the serene Anken Air office complex near Zhenning Road, Maiya is firmly rooted in the local area by way of its focus on East Asian comfort food and rice-based beverages.
The canteen is owned and operated by Camden Hauge of Happy Place Hospitality Group, who also manages Egg, Bitter, Bird, Lucky Mart and others.
“Our location inside the gorgeous Anken Air building was chosen because it’s a hidden gem — a calm oasis off the road, illuminated with natural lighting,” Hauge said. “Plus we have a beautiful enclosed terrace for customers to sit outside, not to mention two rooftops, including one roof garden from which we can harvest our vegetables and herbs.
“We wanted to create a rice-based concept because rice is so essential to East Asian life,” she said. “Post Covid-19, as well as our context as a ‘canteen’ for the amazing office space we’re situated inside, we felt the time was right to elevate comfort food — well-sourced, well-executed comforting dishes from around East Asia, such as Taiwanese braised pork rice and Japanese omurice.”
In a time of reflection on what’s “local,” Hauge wants to showcase all of the amazing ingredients, dishes and beverages from this corner of the world.
Maiya highlights the central theme of rice in both the food and drink menus, a star ingredient Maiya showcases in its many iterations — from koji (the mold to make sake) to mochi, wine to vinegar, and of course the staple bowl of rice. Its house blend is a combination of organic short-grain white and brown rice sourced from Northeast China, famous for its high quality.
By day, the 60-seat light-filled canteen serves as the hub of the Anken community as well as the surrounding neighborhood, offering excellent food at reasonable prices. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items are all available. For beverages, Maiya brews locally sourced and roasted coffees and teas, as well as its own specialties like fresh-pressed seasonal fruit juice and house jam sodas.
By night, Maiya enhances the lunchtime menu with drinking snacks and small plates, all to accompany rice-based beverages like rice wine, yellow wine, white spirit and sake.
Besides dining, Maiya stocks a range of carefully selected retail products on its shelves, including craft tea, handmade sweets, veggie box and its own production of rice wines. The restaurant sources raw materials for its food, beverages and retail from as many local (Chinese and East Asian) producers as possible.
Maiya started its monthly markets (the first Saturday of each month in its secret garden terrace) to enable these craftspeople to sell their goods where they’re eaten. “Wholesome for the body, the environment and our community, we celebrate things made with love and care, expertise and time,” Hauge said.
Opening hours: 8am-9pm (Monday-Thursday); 9am-10pm (Friday-Sunday)
Address: Anken Air, No. 181, 465 Zhenning Rd
Average price: 100 yuan (US$14.29)