Third generation sushi chef Taiji Maruyama will open MARU in Shepherds Market on Tuesday 15th June 2021. MARU will be the second restaurant from the team who opened critically-acclaimed TAKA on Marylebone High Street in Autumn 2020.
Presenting diners with a unique, immersive experience, the restaurant will serve a 20-course farm-to-table tasting menu, presented omakase style, to just 10 guests seated around an intimate counter. MARU will be the first Japanese restaurant in the UK to specialise in the Japanese culinary technique of dry ageing fish, which will feature prominently across the menu.
Named for executive chef Taiji Maruyama’s family name, MARU roughly translates to circle in Japanese, which succinctly describes the constantly evolving omakase menu that will be offered at the restaurant. Omakase, meaning ‘I’ll leave it up to the chef’, is the Japanese tradition of trusting the chef to provide you with a tailor-made meal which showcases the best available ingredients. These are then prepared and cooked in a way that best honours the ingredient and through this, the guest is honoured, thus building on the idea of omotenashi which will be present across all aspects of MARU.
An overriding principle throughout the restaurant, omotenashi is the deep-rooted culture of wholeheartedly looking after your guests. At MARU, whilst omakase will be the focus on which the menu revolves and takes place, it is omotenashi which will ensure the addition of theatre and an elevated standard of cuisine and service. Here, all aspects of the experience will be overseen by chef Maruyama; from the menu and cooking to the interior design to the crockery, which he handmakes, with him even designing the flower arrangements.
The chefs will be behind the counter providing an intimate dining experience, serving all aspects of the meal to their guests, including the drinks, which will also be treated with the same attention to detail and philosophies as employed with the food. The restaurant will only take ten bookings in total each evening, to ensure each guest receives the omotenashi experience. The omakase menu will represent an innovative take on traditional Japanese cuisine, combining British ingredients with classical training and techniques.
Changing daily, the menus will be influenced by what chef Maruyama decides to serve and by what ingredients are seasonally and locally available, in line with the farm-to-table approach of the restaurant. This is in adherence with the Japanese philosophies of Shun and Chisan Chisho; that food should be eaten in its proper season when the flavours are at their peak, and produced and consumed locally, to which chef Maruyama and his team are devoted. As such, unusually for a Japanese restaurant in London, all ingredients wherever possible will be sourced from within the British Isles.
The technique of dry ageing fish in house, which will be seen at MARU, is long-established in Japan but much rarer in Western culture and gives the fish a soft, deliciously buttery texture. Fish such as tuna, brill and trout, and seafood such as squid will be aged, not unlike meat, in custom-made display fridges for between three to eight days, in order to preserve and concentrate the flavour.
The daily changing tasting menu at MARU will be 20-courses, forming a journey through a variety of dishes and tastes, representing the best of British ingredients with a Japanese flourish. Refined ingredients such as Perigord truffle, wagyu and caviar will be prevalent throughout, but only used when enhancing flavour, and able to be sourced seasonally and sustainably. Dishes on the daily-changing menus may include the likes of eight-day dry-aged tuna, Sussex Namayasai farm garden salad and Brixham squid nigiri with Exmoor caviar.
Located on a busy passage-way connecting Shepherd’s Market to Curzon Street, the intimate space has been designed by chef Maruyama with the help of B3 Designers and will be dominated by a long eating counter, custom-made for the restaurant by Ryoma, and able to accommodate 10 guests. Two custom made fridges, in which the fish will be aged and displayed, will be a main focal point, alongside feature art by acclaimed Japanese calligrapher Maaya Wagasuki.
The lower ground floor will house a small welcome area, where guests can have a drink before or after their meal. All the dishes will be served by the chefs on crockery handmade by chef Maruyama, with guests also receiving an omiyage gift which will include a breakfast pastry, for the next morning, as well as a scarf and chopsticks, calling back to Japanese tradition of omotenashi at the very core of MARU.
The tasting menu at MARU will be priced at £160 for 20 courses, with a supplementary drink pairing, to include wine, Champagne, sake and tea. MARU will open on 15th June 2021. Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 10pm.