Thursday, August 29, 2013

Maru Santa Monica


12400 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 150

Los AngelesCA 90025
(310) 820-7240
Maru - Santa Monica on Urbanspoon

Not a new restaurant, just a new location. What was once a culinary destination in Valencia, California, is now one of the hottest places to dine in West LA. Maru, meaning circle in Japanese, is a very good representation of the various food that is served here. This restaurant may seem like a fancy sushi restaurant. But they have a full kitchen that serves steak and a very creative twist to what they call "Risotto!" The man responsible for these artistic array of culinary delights is Chef and owner Jason Park. And this is our food adventure at Maru...


Wild Albacore usuzukuri
-Fresh Albacore tuna caught locally on the coast of California. The fish was soft and moist. Each little garnish gave the Albacore a different dimension. It was light and appetizing, good way to start any meal. Very well executed dish.

Hon maguro, fooko, nama tako, wild salmon, shima aji
-The fishes used to make our Nigiri sushi were flown in from Japan. And nothing brightens up my eyes more than the vibrant color of good quality blue fin tuna. All the sushi were sublime in their own ways. Every piece of sushi is meant to be enjoyed as is. That means the usage of extra wasabi or soy sauce is unnecessary. Just eat what the chef gives ya!

Heirloom Tomato Salad
House made ricotta, shiso pesto, sherry vinaigrette
-A very nostalgic dish because my mom used to add sugar to tomato and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Next day, we would have a nice cold treat. It was ironic that Chef joked about it, because that's exactly what I would have thought if he didn't tell us that the tomato are naturally sweet. Which are hand picked by the chef himself. Talk about dedication right?

Pan roasted, cherry tomato, cranberry beans, black kale, lemon broth
-Very elegant dish with very nice color contrast. The fish was nice and crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside. The acidity in the chicken broth worked with with the pan roasted fish. Gave the dish a nice balance.

Crispy Duck Risotto
Crispy duck confit risotto cake, herb salad, tomato sauce
-Leave it to Mad Science/Chef Jason Park for coming up with this unique mashup of culinary art. Not sure you could even call it a Risotto anymore. The duck confit was just overkill. Delicious overkill that is! Definitely one of the more interesting dishes we tried. The amount of different flavors and textures in this dish was absolutely mind-blowing.

Filet Mignon
Brandy-Merlot glaze, roasted garlic potatoes with shiitake mushrooms.
-Not something we were expecting. Perfectly cooked Filet Mignon at a Japanese restaurant. Beautifully arranged, cooked Medium rare, and the very interesting sauces. The meat was tender and the spicy chili sauce gave the dish a good Asian twist to it.

Pork Belly
Sake-soy braise, garlic infused black kale, marinated shallots, roasted tomatoes.
-One of the most unique dish here. If there's one dish that you must get at Maru, it's this one! When you eat the pork by itself, it's a bit 2 dimension, and the kale is very fibrous by itself. But when you have both together, the balance of the pork and the kale comes together beautifully. The kale adds the 3rd dimension to the flavor, creating that "umami" flavor. Vice versa, the pork somehow gets rid of the fibrous texture of the kale. Absolutely brilliant! Perfect dish to finish our entrees.

Bread Pudding
Valrhona semi sweet chocolate, Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream
-Nice and crispy outside, warm and moist inside. Top it off with ice cream, forget about it. Just gimme some of this and a cup of that delicious coffee. I'll be a happy camper.

Peach Tart
Reiger Farm's  O' Henry's, almond cream, Creme Fraiche ice cream.
-Chef's version of a peach tart. It's almost like a deconstructed tart.

Berry Cobbler
Assorted organically grown berries, Tahitian Vanilla bean ice cream.
-The outer crust almost makes this look like a cupcake. The fresh fruits used in this cobbler is very obvious. Very aromatic. Another scoop of that delicious Tahitian vanilla ice cream never hurts anybody. AMIRITE?

As you can see, Maru is an "all around" dining experience. One thing they emphasize here is the local ingredients they use. Big thanks to Chef Park and his staff at Maru for their generosity. Big thanks to Jenni Hwang for inviting us.

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