July 8, 2009 > Restaurant Reviews: Sushi Maru
Restaurant Reviews: Sushi Maru
By D.J. Wolfe
Gokigen Wa Ikaga Desuka! [How are you?] When you go to a Sushi restaurant, it pays to speak the language. Of course, I speak it well enough to ensure being arrested in Japan by the language police for something I probably will say wrong. Problem solved, international incident avoided - I bring my wife who was born and raised in Japan, and who speaks Japanese fluently. A food critic has to cover all bases.
Sushi Maru is an easily accessible restaurant owned by Kenichiro Miyamoto. It was previously owned by a group who had five other establishments around the Bay Area. When the opportunity to buy Sushi Maru arose, manager, Kenichiro wasted no time. The result is a well-run restaurant that understands the true meaning of hospitality. Although Kenichiro was not present when we dropped in for dinner, Katsu-San, the Sushi Chef was and greeted us with a genuine smile that is always present when we stop by. He has a loyal following and it is no wonder why.
People who know about Sushi Bars understand that in the Japanese culture relationships are significant, built on respect. Normally occasional diners at a sushi bar are treated differently than regulars. It is hard to explain. No worries - the food quality is the same but the service changes in an imperceptible way and you will notice it - eventually. However, at Sushi Maru, there is a difference. Katsu-San is genuinely happy to see all customers and he runs a tight ship behind the river of boats cruising by him. Did I mention that this is a sushi boat bar?
The fish is very fresh. Miniature gondola-type boats circle the bar and on each boat there are usually three different selections from which you can choose. The water is kept cool so the boats stay cold and the fish stays fresh. Plates are coded for different price ranges; one boat displays a group of four plates to tell you the price of each plate design. Simple.
What is on those plates is not simple! Of course the expected California rolls and two pieces of sushi are among the choices. Along with these standard servings Sushi Maru often has fresh fatty tuna also known as toro. It melts in your mouth, but you have to trust the sushi chef who prepares it because there can be small bones in it. You can trust Katsu-San. He knows how to prepare it. It is the best - "Ichiban"!
Shrimp Tempura wrapped in rolls with other items in the middle wins my vote for catch of the day. For those like me who like Uni - Sea Urchin - well, look no further. You have found heaven at Sushi Maru. However, I must warn you that Uni is an acquired taste.
I can go on and on about the many items on their menu but if you like Sushi, Sushi Maru should be at the top of your restaurant list. I patronize restaurants to be served good food at reasonable prices and not have to clean up - to enjoy life. I encourage you to support the places we review. They have earned it because they deliver... and Sushi Maru delivers!
So I close with another Japanese phrase for when you say good bye to Sushi Chef Katsu-San.
DEWA MATA OAI SHIMASHIYOU [See You Again]
Reviewed May 29, 2009
599 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas