We are positively giddy as we arrive at Japanese restaurant Marumo. I’ve been looking forward to my meal at this much buzzed about spot on Stirling Highway for months. I’m not sure if the hype surrounding Marumo stems from the difficulty of securing a booking or the quality of the food. I’m ever so curious to find out.
With Chef out for the count with man-flu, my good friend, the chopstick challenged Jennie is dining with me at Marumo. Currently the earliest you can hope to enjoy a dinner there is October. Online bookings open just once a month and the entire month is booked out in a matter of minutes. We missed out on a booking a few times, having to wait another 30 days to try our luck again. Finally, we struck gold – a table for two at Marumo!
The menu is Omakase, a Chef’s choice set menu, which changes monthly. We’re advised by the friendly waitress that a sitting can last over three hours, which is fine. The simple, elegant dining room is small – seating about 25 covers. We take a seat in the cosy corner booth area.
There is no wine list, so BYO is the go at Marumo. I’d recommend you bring your best bottle of bubbles or sake, to compliment the menu which mainly features seafood. Thanks to the efficient wait staff I never get to the bottom of my glass of water or warm green tea. Before the seven courses begin we start with an appetiser of sliced squid marinated in vinegar. The salty squid cuts through the sweet vinegar and leaves my tastebuds craving more.
Soon enough we are presented with steaming bowls of suimono, a clear soup with wagyu niku-dango (meatballs) and sōmen, very thin white Japanese noodles. The subtly sweet broth is made from two types of edible seaweed, wakame and kombu.
I absolutely relish the king prawn tamagoyaki, a rectangular Japanese omelette which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg. Red quinoa, tossed with Manjimup truffle oil, sits on top of the tamagoyaki. It’s deliciously different.
Next is mouth-wateringly moist pan fried barramundi with pickled fennel.
Course four is Chef’s selection of sashimi. A platter of the freshest yellowtail kingfish, salmon and scallops is sliced to perfection and served raw. I love the simplicity of sashimi, dipped in a little soy sauce.
The dish of the night, Tasmanian salmon belly sushi, looks stunning topped with shimmering orange fish roe. Our waitress advises us that it’s best to eat each piece of sushi in one mouthful, so we taste all of the elements of the dish in one hit. It’s a tad unladylike, but we try to shove each morsel into our mouths as gracefully as we can with chopsticks. The sushi tastes even better than it looks.
A fruity sorbet of yuzu and navel orange arrives to cleanse our palates.
After a little pause and more green tea, a perfectly pink slice of duck breast appears. The tender duck sits upon a sweet potato puree, plump edamame beans and grape tomato. On the side is a little disc of onion, filled with a creamy Japanese style hollandaise. It seriously rivals the salmon belly sushi for my favourite dish, I only wish the slice of duck is a little more generous.
For dessert we try something a little different, genmaicha mousse. Genmaicha is the Japanese name for green tea that is combined with roasted brown rice. A sweet granny smith apple gel is layered on top of the mousse and then topped with caramelised white chocolate and crunchy roasted rice tea. It’s not an overwhelmingly rich dessert, the almost savoury genmaicha balances out the sweet apple and chocolate. It’s very easy to eat.
Unlike other Omakase dinners I’ve had in the past, I leave comfortably full. Is Marumo worth the hype? Absolutely. At just $60 for a seven course meal that is full of technique, interesting components, quality local ingredients and most importantly exciting flavours – it is absolutely worth the wait. I better make my next booking soon!
At a glance
22/145 Stirling Highway
Phone 0431 040 899
■ Opening times
Tue – Sat 7pm to 10.30pm
value for money 4
■ style – Japanese
■ wine – BYO, $2.50 corkage
■ Chef – Moe Oo
■ Owner – Moe Oo
■ feel – cosy and intimate
■ wheelchair access – yes
Set menu – $60
■ all in all – sensational value
for money – excellent food full
of technique, flavour and flair.