One trip to Maru Sushi & Grill was not enough! For the sake of a good review, I just had to follow up my dinner visit with lunch a week later. Maru is not the typical “write your own sushi order/miso soup and salad included” type sushi restaurant. The atmosphere is serene and the menu is not large, but it is well edited. The prices are a bit higher than other local sushi spots, but the moment we tasted our first dish, we were won over. Everything is extremely fresh — which is crucial when serving raw seafood. In addition, Maru claims to “shop locally when possible and use organic produce and wild caught fish when available.”
The menu has Sharing Plates and Soups and Salads sections from which to choose. We tried the Seaweed Salad/Squid Salad combination for $5, and it was terrific. A flat bowl held a generous serving of seaweed salad on one side and strips of tender seasoned squid on the other. The squid was prepared differently than I have ever tasted, and it was delicious. On my second visit, I ordered the Express Lunch Special, which included salad and miso soup. The dressing on the iceberg salad tasted like a ginger-touched French salad dressing and was too tomato-y for my taste. The miso soup was good and not too salty.
For the first visit, we ordered the Eel Nigiri for $6; Spicy Tuna Roll for $7, Cali Roll for $6 and the Rainbow Roll for $14. Everything was beautifully presented and very fresh tasting. The eel in particular was mild, with no off flavors. The Rainbow Roll contained crab, cucumber and avocado topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and halibut, and was adorned with a large shrimp nigiri on the side. The Express Lunch includes a choice of two types of sushi rolls. We chose the Spicy Salmon Roll, Eel and Avocado Roll, the Simply Green Roll and a Special California Roll. Again, the freshness and quality of the ingredients shone through. The Simply Green Roll was like a salad and sushi in one! It contained cucumber, avocado and kampyo, and was topped with organic baby greens with Maru dressing. The Maru dressing was light and slightly sweet, and much better than the dressing on the iceberg salad. The Spicy Salmon contained large chunks of fish. Although I loved the spiciness, my lunch buddy thought the dots of chili sauce on the top overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the fish. When she mentioned this to the server, he explained they have heard this from other patrons, and they are still tweaking the dish.
A variety of mochi ice cream balls, chocolate truffles and Green Tea Crème Brûlée were available. We split a Green Tea Crème Brûlée and it was very good. The green color was pretty, and the tea flavor did not overwhelm.
At dinner, we were greeted and seated promptly by a gracious man who turned out to be Robert Song, the owner of the restaurant. He stopped by our table later in the meal to see how we liked the dinner, and told us a bit about the squid and the restaurant. It is always a good sign when a restaurant owner is on the premises and interacting with customers. On both visits, our server was friendly and efficient, and kept the water glasses filled.
The décor is serene and sophisticated, with walls in shades of green and a massive white wave textured wall behind the sushi counter. The dishes and serving ware are spare white and matte black ceramic, allowing the colors and shapes of the food to shine. There is a spacious patio at the entrance, which would be inviting when weather permits. Most of the patrons were casually dressed when I was there, but the atmosphere would definitely be great for a dress up date night. The restroom was clean and attractively decorated.
The prices reflect the high quality of the ingredients used. The lunch menu is well priced, and would be a good place to start if you do not want to splurge on a
Sushi Happy Hour with half-off sushi specials takes place daily from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. You can check online to see what sushi is offered for the daily special on Twitter or Facebook. I’ve enjoyed checking Twitter in the evening, just to tempt myself and see what sushi is featured for the day!