The Maya in Market Street Fremantle has been around for more than 20 years, with its longevity telling you something about the quality of the food they turn out. On Thursday evening we went along accompanied by Lady FWO’s sister, Sally, who has been in WA with other fire fighters from Victoria, helping our beleaguered firies trying to contain and defeat the enormous fires around Pemberton/Northcliffe and Boddington. We thought she (and they) deserved our gratitude so before she was due to fly home we decided to treat her to a good meal – Maya seemed just the right spot and so it proved.
The restaurant isn’t large but we were there early and had booked so got a table without trouble – it was by the open windows looking out onto the street – a nice spot, if a little noisy at times, but the cool breeze made a welcome relief from the weather we had been experiencing in the eastern suburbs over the past week or so.
The menu at Maya is not the immense list that many Indian restaurants around town present, but contains a smallish number of dishes that are also a bit different from other places. The small plates section contains dishes such as potato patties with three sauces, cumin and chilli; lamb kebabs with chilli and ginger; wagyu beef samosa; and tiger prawns cooked in the tandoor.
We chose a couple of small plate dishes to start – eggplant pakoras and what was described as a fish fry.
Looking at the larger plates we saw eggplant and peppers pan fried with cashews, coconut cream and chilli; oven roasted chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, fenugreek and cream; tandoori lamb cutlets; and beef vindaloo, among the choices. In the end we went for three mains to share – palak paneer; chicken tikka masala; and fish qmin. With some steamed rice, a garlic naan and a bowl of raita that seemed about right.
As to the wines available – again not an extensive list – and a touch disappointing to see no rosé available – after all this is a great accompaniment to spicy food, I think, but we were able to order an excellent Riesling from the Great Southern, 2013 Harewood Estate Frankland River, which did the job really well.
The four pakoras, eggplant marinated and fried in a chick pea batter, topped with a tamarind based sauce, were excellent. A nice crisp batter surrounding moist and tender slices of eggplant, and the sourness of the tamarind contrasted well with the rich molasses flavours of jaggery (cane sugar) which made up the delicious dressing.
The fish fry – four pieces of crispy fried fish, but with beautifully moist and juicy flesh, came with a relish made from chilli and mint, and the marinade of garlic and mild chilli gave an added dimension of flavour. This was another high quality starter.
One of my favourite Indian dishes is palak paneer, cheese cooked in a creamy spinach sauce. I consider it a marker to the skill of the kitchen and Maya’s proved that they possess the flair I expect. The paneer was made from ricotta, it was soft, creamy but held together well; the sauce of spinach, tomatoes, and cream with roasted cumin and a touch of chilli, provided excellent background flavour notes.
The chicken tikka masala – succulent pieces of grilled chicken sautéed with onions, tomatoes, capsicum and finished in a thick, spicy sauce was outstanding. The flavours melded well, the chicken juicy, moist and tender, and the chilli provided an underlying kick to the tangy sauce.
Our final dish, fish Qmin was another winner. Saltwater barramundi fillets were marinated and cooked in a sauce of roasted cumin, fenugreek seeds, coconut, tomatoes and red chilli paste. Barramundi can easily be overcooked, it is a very soft fleshed fish, but this was close to perfect – it again demonstrated real skill in the kitchen. The sauce was rich, creamy, infused with a wonderful array of spices and complemented the fish beautifully.
The garlic naan was also well cooked, with some lovely charring from the oven, just the right amount of garlic, and beautifully chewy and doughy, perfect for mopping up the curry sauces.
Our Riesling was very light straw in colour, with lifted citrus and floral aromas, with a hint of spice; the palate was full of limey citrus flavours, underpinned by notes of passionfruit and grapefruit, and good acid led to a long, satisfying finish. It was a very good companion to our food and is another example of the outstanding Rieslings produced in the Great Southern.
The Maya is a top notch Indian restaurant, among, if not the, best going around in WA. The service is friendly and attentive, the atmosphere very good, and the food excellent. In our case we also had the pleasure of the lovely Sally along as well – it was a perfect evening – only slightly marred by Transperth deciding the close the Fremantle line after 7.30PM and our forced bus ride back to town.
The Maya should certainly be on your list if you are looking for good Indian food.