Maru is conspicuously set in the middle of a block in downtown Hoboken, but it would be a mistake to walk by it.
Maru offers a soothing atmosphere for quality Japanese cuisine. It has the feel of a traditional teahouse, with muted tones and a low-key appearance. Even the music is low, so that conversation is easy to attain.
There is a long dining room and a sushi bar at the back. Maru outfits its customers with chopsticks, but silverware is available. There is also no alcohol on the menu, but customers can bring their own beer or wine. Green tea and soft drinks are available. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. The dining room is decorated with authentic ornaments, and the sushi chefs slice orders in plain view.
"We offer one of the best sushi selections in town," said Maru owner Tom Lee.
I started my meal with miso soup (available with some meals or for $1.95). It is ideal to begin a meal with a traditional soup cooked well. The salmon rice soup ($4.95) was also tasty. It included broiled salmon, rice and nori, Japanese seaweed in green tea with soy sauce.
I had the spicy sashimi salad ($6.95), served with assorted sashimi over vegetables with spicy dressing. The spices and dressing were terrific flavor boosters for the sashimi. Several other salads are served including Maru chef salad ($5.95), an assortment of seafood, seaweed, tobiko and tomato with chef's dressing, and garden salad ($2.95).
Maru has a long list of appetizers including some sushi and sashimi ($8.95), several kinds of dumplings ($4.95-$6.95), and other noodle and seafood plates.
For an entrée I had seafood teriyaki ($16.95). It smelled terrific and the hot plate was placed nicely on a finished wood tray. The thin layer of teriyaki sauce sat across the bottom of the plate, not drowning the flavor of the various kinds of seafood, but giving it a subtle taste. The plate included scallops, shrimp, octopus, carrots and broccoli. The meal came with soup and white rice.
I also tried the beef katsu ($12.95), deep fried pork served with katsu sauce, and BBQ-flavored sauce. The sauce was sweet and spicy. Other entrees available include several varieties of teriyaki, katsu and tempura dishes (10.95-$16.95), noodle dishes ($8.95-$10.95), and Korean specialties ($10.95-$15.95). Maru's menu is filled with more than 20 entrees.
Maru's sushi and sashimi (thinly sliced, raw seafood, sometimes served on a small bed of rice) were fresh and appetizing. I enjoyed a boat of sushi and sashimi, including special rolls of tuna, salmon, seasonal shrimp, sea urchin, giant clam and yellow tail. The yellow tail was my favorite. It had a subtle taste, not too fishy. The special roll was quite large in size, and included eel, avocado and spicy sauce. The giant clam was chilly and refreshing.
I also tried another plate of sushi, which included eel, spiced tuna, yellow tail and spicy sauce on a bed of rice wrapped in seafood. These were some of most delicious pieces of sushi I ever had. Not only does Maru have a huge variety of sushi, but its sushi has the distinct flavor of freshness.
Maru's menu also includes over 15 varieties of rolls, including the Maru special ($10.95), eel, tamago, avocado and tobiko with spicy sauce; the Hoboken roll ($9.95), deep fried lobster tail, crabmeat, cucumber and tobiko; the crazy roll ($9.95), soft shell crab, lettuce, tobiko and spicy mayonnaise crushed and wrapped with rice, nori and cucumber; and the rock 'n' roll ($7.95), served with cream cheese, fish cake, smoked salmon and avocado with spicy sauce.
Maru has vegetarian choices including vegetarian sushi ($10.95) and vegetarian udon ($9.95), a noodle dish.
Maru is located at 219 Washington St. in Hoboken. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. They deliver. For more information call (201) 798-3311. q