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Maru has great sushi!

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The sushi at Maru, newly opened on Burnet Road, is delicious. It's a place I would highly reocmmend.

The sashimi is amazingly fresh and beautifully prepared. We have tried the fatty tuna (very good), bluefin (a gorgeous red color, wonderful) the yellowtail (good), the yellowtail belly (amazing!), the white tuna (really good), and the uni (a standout). I can't emphasize enough how fresh everything tasted. It is, in my opinion, of equal or better quality and taste than any place in Austin.

Other menu items have been good as well. The miso is quite tasty (but not, as Kate Thornberry said in her review of Maru, the best ever), the dumplings are delicious, and the "J-bomb" -- crab meat, cream cheese, and jalapeno, all covered in tempura batter and fried is lovely.

After visiting twice, I've decided there is one rule to Maru -- either customize or avoid the rolls. The two types we tried (a shrimp tempura roll and a mystery roll that was brought by mistake) were almost drowned in sweet sauce and failed to impress. I probably could ask for less of the sweet stuff, but with sashimi this good, I'm happy to skip the rolls.

Fish shipments come in on Monday and Thursday - so if you want the freshest available, go then. They also will take special orders (for agi, for example) if you ask them a day in advance.

The ambiance is comfortable. It certainly does not feel "fancy" like Mikado or Uchi. The servers seem to be brand new, and there are some hiccups in service that you might expect. The sushi chefs obviously know what they're doing, and everyone is extremely friendly. It's a great place for a casual night out.

Maru is BYOB. I recommend heading up to Asahi (6105 Burnet Road) and purchasing a bottle of sake before you go (the owners are happy to make recommendations)

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  1. Thanks for the review! I had a pretty good (and similar) experience there last week:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/368236

    1. Hey Jwynne! Great review! It's too bad I didn't see it until today, or I would have gone to Maru sooner. I love the fact that you agreed about the rolls -- good to know it's not just me!

      1. I'm really happy that people have been going to Maru and enjoying it. My girlfriend & I live in the neighbourhood and it's nice to have a solid sushi place nearby that doesn't cost a quarter of our monthly budget to go to.

        When I go I get the ika, and assorted roe and haven't been disappointed.

        Have any of you managed to get there for the bento lunch specials?

        Nice review by the by.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hooliganyouth

          I love stopping by Maru for a quiet lunch alone. The bento's are affordable (for Japanese) and VERY filling. I usually get the Teriyaki or the Ten Don (Shrimp tempura).

          I'm glad this place is doing so well. It's nice to have yummy and good quality sushi that is affordable. The hot dishes are also on par with the sushi. While the rolls can sometimes be sweet (sauces...which I like but aren't to everyone's palette) the ingredients are always super fresh. I also had the 3x3 last time (three pieces each of tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi) the fish was well cut and melt in your mouth delicious, plus a steal at $18.

          I noticed on my last visit that they have a sign up for a liquor license. Anyone know if it will stay byob once they get the license??

        2. Yup, I loved it when I went.

          1. I've been 3 times now, once for dinner and twice for lunch. I agree with the comments on the freshness of the nigiri sushi. I found the yellowtail belly and flying fish roe delicious in particular though I'm no expert. Also tried the bento with the beef teriyaki (sweeter than I like, but tender meat and not much fat), served with four pieces of a small Cali roll, several well prepared (non-greasy) tempura (shrimp, green bean, onion, and my favorite, sweet potato), a small salad (skipped it), some rice, all prefaced with very good miso. Service was polite (slightly nervous?) and efficient. Decor and lighting are not as soothing as they could/should be. Maru was 2/3 full at lunch (Thursday and Friday) but mostly empty for a weeknight dinner. Seemed relatively inexpensive (~6 piece sushi lunch was $10 or so, teriyaki bento was maybe $8) for the quality.

            1 Reply
            1. re: geoquiz3000

              I agree completely with the above statements. The nigiri yellowfin tuna was top notch. My sister had a California roll that was nearly inedible, though her Crunch roll was fantastic and enormous. I had a Hawaiian role that was very solid. The miso was excellent and only $1.25 a cup. I wish there was a place close to where I live of this quality (Oltorf and 35)

            2. We had two of the sushi lunch specials last week, one with a California roll and one with a spicy tuna roll. We asked for no shrimp (dining partner's preference) and each got one piece of: red snapper, white tuna, red tuna, yellowtail, and salmon. The white tuna (binnaga) was great, the salmon medicore, and the rest were good. The rolls were fair: Krabby and mushy, respectively. Miso soup was very good, strong and hearty. Lunch for two came to $25 pre tip, which seemed fair but not a bargain.

              1. Ate at Maru today...great experience. The sashimi was fantastic, and the Hawaiian roll was delicious. It's still BYOB; bring Kirin or sake to drink. Recommend to all looking for relaxed sushi place in Austin...

                1. At the request of my wife (Japanese, born and reared in Japan) we tried Maru the other night. It was quite busy, and the customers seemed to be enjoying themselves.

                  I ordered toro sashimi and the sushi chef, who identified himself as the Korean owner of Maru, recommended against it due to freshness. I usually only eat sashimi, so I ordered from the dinner side of the menu; tonkatsu. Instead of the usual plate of breaded deep fried pork cutlet, shredded cabbage, and tonkatsu sauce, I was served thin bite-sized pieces of panfried pork, a sushi roll, and rice. Edible, but not tonkatsu.

                  My wife ordered udon, sushi tamago, and some vegetable sushi maki. Instead of tamago she was given roe, apparently due to a translation error of "egg." The sushi chef quickly replaced it.

                  Summary ($50 w/tip)
                  -------------
                  sashimi/fish sushi: unable to try
                  noodles: good
                  vegetable sushi: so-so
                  katsu: not worth a trip

                  Net: Not on my wife's list of Japanese restaurants. FWIW, Musashino is on the top of her list, followed by Mikado.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: thebodytx

                    Do you know if there are any Japanese owned and run restauraunts in Austin?

                    Also, have you been the the little Japanese Market at Burnet and Koenig? How do you/she like it? I can't remember the name.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I am also in need of a Asian Market, my BIL who is Japanese is visting and this is there request
                      " I would like to cook you a Japanese meal when we are there. Is there an Asian market there? We would make tempura, sashimi(fresh tuna) if possible, sukiyaki."
                      I would love help on where to find these ingrediants to make it easier when they arrive in a few weeks.
                      Thanks

                      1. re: familyof3

                        I just drove by - Asahi it is....I do remember seeing some fish and sashimi in the freezer section. I'd go there for all the staples and then go to central market for the fish. As previously discussed, you'll pay for it, but it is fresh frozen and dependable.

                        You might try the regurlar HEB at Burnet and Koenig. Much maligned, however, they have had sashimi tuna lately. I've bought it recently; it was A-ok.

                        1. re: familyof3

                          Asian market we go to is MT Market waaay up on North Lamar. It's hard not to go insane and not start buying anything and everything. last time I was there I almost bought a bunch of live fish. I don't know why but I wanted to.

                        2. re: rudeboy

                          The market is Asahi Imports, 6105 Burnet Road. Open 10am-7pm every day. It's owned and operated by a japanese family. The market used to be over on North Loop, for those of you that might have lost track of it.

                          The market stocks japanese staples and vegetables; no meat or fish. It's a wonderful store; always the first stop when we're preparing for a dinner party. For meat my wife swears by Whole Foods. For fish I recommend Quality Seafood.

                        3. re: thebodytx

                          I agree with the comment about the katsu. Also, when I was there the sushi was not rolled very tightly and the rolls, though tasty, fell apart and were difficult to pickup. I thought the fish was decent, but the texture was more mushy than I'd have liked. They were still BYOB even though they have wine and beer on their menu.

                          1. re: cowfish

                            The wine and beer has been printed on the menu since they opened. It's my understanding that they had originally intended to follow through with the liquor license and serve, but due to the popularity of the BYOB policy they've maintained that instead. This is one of the reasons I keep returning. I can eat a rather large sushi meal with my own $7-8 bottle of wine (which most restaurants would mark up to at least $20) and get out for around $50 for 2 people. Most other places in town cost double that when drinks are included.