Maruya – Mission, San Francisco
Time: Saturday. June 18, 2014. 8:00 PM. Reservation.
Location: Mission, San Francisco
Address: 2931 16th St
Cuisine: Japanese (sushi)
Party Size: 2 (M&V)
Order: Masa-Hide Omakase
Pre-tip Cost: $ 387 [$356 food & drink; $31 tax]
Verdict: Maruya is a strong contender in the ‘best sushi in SF’ discussion.
The Japanese food transformation that is occurring in San Francisco is in full swing. The crop of new, high end and more traditional Japanese restaurants opening up is showing no signs of slowing down. Kiss Seafood started it all but recently the City has seen ICHI+NI, Kusakabe, Pabu, Saru Sushi and Wako (to name a few) pop up, in addition to Maruya.
These places all focus on quality ingredients, letting the flavors of the fish and rice be the focus of each dish. The chef’s skill for preparation and seasoning replace the need to drown each bite in a slurry of soy-wasabi. The trend of omakase menus allows the guests to put their full faith in the capable hands of the chef to cater the dining experience to each party.
Maruya was opened in late 2013 by the tandem of Masa Sasaki and Hide Sueyoshi who both come with a history of success in Since the restaurant is right down the street from our place, deciding to dine here was a no-brainer, it was just a matter of finding the right occasion.
Maruya has a woody heavy decor. From the outside, large wood slats can be seen through the window. The sushi counter appears to be made of large sections of wood, as is the shelving behind the chefs.
For our order, we went with the Masa-Hide omakase, which is essentially the “we will feed you until you tell us to stop” option. They also have an omakase option that has a set quantity of food as well as a set price. At Maruya, both omakase options come with a small selection of hot food from the kitchen but the focus is the Edomae style sushi.
For starters we each ordered a glass of sake, a drink which I intend to experiment with and learn more about over the course of time. As expected from Japanese style service, the bottles are brought to the table/counter and displayed before being poured.
And now, to jump into Maruya’s omakase. At this point, I will comment on selected items that stood out and also apologize for any pictures that show up sideways – I still can’t figure that out.
Seaweed & Tofu
Homemade Tofu with Truffle Oil
As we enter the fish portion of the meal, I can say that many of the cuts were experienced for the first time during this meal. I was also hungry and negligent and inadvertently skipped taking a picture of the first nigiri offering, which was Isaki.
Iwashi (Choshi, Japan)
Inada (Shizuoka, Japan)
Katsuo (Katsuura, Japan)
Bonito is quickly moving up the charts on my favorite cut of fish.
Medai (Iki Nagasaki, Japan)
This was in our sashimi and we were both happy to see it make a comeback.
King Salmon (Chinook, USA)
Tairagigai (Eime, Japan)
This is a shellfish which are lower on the hierarchy of favorite sushi bites. This particular fellow had the characteristic chewiness but was not overly rubbery.
Ebodai (Eastern USA)
This piece got the blowtorch treatment to do a little insta-searing.
Chu Toro (Spain)
Light fattiness, melty, amazing.
Yaki Hamo (Oita, Japan)
This was grilled lightly prior to serving and had a brilliant meatiness.
Uni (Mendocino, CA)
The single largest order of uni I have ever eaten. I probably could have done 10 of these guys.
Shiroebi (Toyama, Japan)
Shiroebi is in the shrimp family. I was not the biggest fan of this, it was too soft and melty.
Kisu (Oita, Japan)
Kohada (Kumamoto, Japan)
Kohada is a friend of saba and is one of my favorites.
Mentaiko (Hakata, Japan)
Another item that I was not a big fan of. Cod roe is not one of my favorites and the shiso added an over powering taste. On the other hand, M who loves cod roe enjoyed this.
Ankimo (Eastern USA)
I absolutely adore ankimo (fois gras of the ocean) and this might have been the most decadent offering I have tasted. Also the first time seeing it in nigiri form.
Ikura (Alaska, USA)
Heavily marinated and a touch salty.
And that concludes the sushi portion of the meal. After giving the stop signal, they conclude the meal with a miso soup with clams.
A very rich and adult taste.
The occasion for this dinner happened to be my birthday. Minako must have (but claims she does not remember) informed them of this tidbit so they presented a green tea tiramisu.
We left Maruya rather stuffed after about 2.5 hours of eating. The quality of service was impeccable and was noticed immediately. Even while waiting for our counter space to open up, we were checked in on regularly.
The prices at Maruya are a little higher just about any other place I have been with the average being 7-8$ for a single piece of nigiri and some getting up to 10$. However much of the cost can be attributed to the quality of the fish and fact that much of it is imported from Japan.
The competition for the high end sushi dollar is heating up in San Francisco with each restaurant trying to offer an experience that wins out over the others. Maruya’s take on Edomae sushi has earned it a spot on my list of places I would recommend – just keep an eye on how much you’ve eaten.