Maru has great sushi!
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)
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!
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.
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??
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.
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)