A few weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of eating at the elusive Marumo in Nedlands.
According to all the online and offline chatter, Marumo seems to be one of Perth’s most sought after and best value restaurants for Japanese fine dining.
Apparently they are fully booked out for several months in advanced; and to manage the overwhelming demand, they now release a month’s worth of online reservations (two months out) on a first come first serve basis. I’ve also heard those bookings sell out so quickly (minutes!) that slow mouse-clickers are often disappointed.
For me, I was invited to join someone else’s dinner booking, a friend of a friend, who couldn’t make it at the last minute.
Anyway despite all the fanfare, I arrived and there was absolutely no sense of a pretentious, pompous, self congratulating “We are SO highly sought after, therefore YOU should be SO lucky to dine here” vibe.
The atmosphere was humble, simple, minimal and modern.
Marumo offers a 7-course Omakase menu, which means you leave everything up to the chef and he carefully selects and showcases his loving creations in a set menu, based on the freshest seasonal produce.
You turn up at 7pm and the whole sitting takes about 3 hours.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE that idea. I have no special dietary requirements, only that I want to eat really good food. I like to try a bit of everything and most times I don’t know what to choose… so I am absolutely happy to trust the chef and eat whatever he creates.
For $60 per person and BYO alcohol, I’ve never heard of a place that does anything similar.
First up was a Pickled Squid Salad thing (that’s right, I’m not a pro food critic, so I am completely happy to call dishes a “salad thing”).
It was light, tangy, salty and bursting with flavour. It was a great start to the evening and I wanted to eat more!
Chilled Edamame Soup
At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a cream soup to start. I don’t usually like heavy, creamy soups. I have a slight intolerance to milk and cream, which leaves me feeling a bit full and bloated. I probably should have mentioned this to the chef?
But it was actually lovely. The flavours were fresh and light, the consistency was smooth, but not TOO smooth. The surprise sat at the bottom of the soup, I think it was a small pile of crab flesh or prawn? I forgot to ask. Its mellow, salty seafood flavour, complimented the soup so well. It was heavenly to eat.
I’d say this was one of my favourite dishes of the night!
A real surprise for me!
Beef, Mushroom and Bamboo Shoot
When the next dish arrived, I rubbed my hands together… YES this was exactly what I was craving! Bring on the Japanese seared meats!
The beef was soft, tender, gorgeously succulent, perfectly seared and drenched with the clear sauce, which was not too salty or overpowering. It was a tasty dish and really well done.
Soft Shell Crab and Watermelon
This was my lucky day. I’m also a huge fan of soft shell crab. The textural contrast of crunchy and soft, borders on the rapturous pleasure of crispy fried chicken. I’ve never eaten it with watermelon before though.
I adore watermelon and grilled halloumi, so I’m no stranger to an interesting mix of sweet and salty flavours. But this dish didn’t quite have the WOW factor for me, as the last three dishes did.
Having said that, the crab was indeed crispy, crunchy on the outside and full of flavour and juicy on the inside; and the watermelon was a refreshing contrast for my palate. I ate them separately, but very happily.
Chef’s Selection of Sashimi
I was so so pleased with the sashimi.
It had lovely flavour and perfect texture, it was beautifully cut, faultlessly fresh and sitting on a sheet of ice.
I think I could eat this everyday for lunch for the rest of my life thanks.
Tasmanian Salmon Belly Sushi
This was my second favourite dish for the night!
I’m usually very bored with sushi, because (please forgive me) I buy quick-and-easy, “chicken teriyaki” sushi from takeaway shops all the time, so I try not to choose it at restaurants.
However, when I took my first bite of this sushi, I think my eyes rolled to the back of my head… hello foodgasm, it was amazing!
The seared, fatty salmon belly combined with the salty bursts of salmon roe was absolutely delicious. Then mixed with the soft rice and the super crispy outer shell of the tempura prawn, it all just filled my mouth with the most ecstatic combination of creamy, crunchy, popping, salty, seaweedy textures and flavours.
The lovely staff told me that I was supposed to put the WHOLE thing in my mouth to enjoy ALL the flavours at once. It sounded good in theory.
But alas, I’m a dainty eater and I struggled with fitting each piece in my mouth… so I made a bit of a mess on my first two attempts, ha!
Duck, Apricot and Parsnip
The duck arrived and it was a handsome and impressive looking dish. The duck meat was tender, with warming flavours that were delicate, mellow and sweet. The puree brought it all together nicely.
I was quite full at this point and struggled to finish it, but that in no way reflected how it tasted.
Dark Chocolate, Peach and Yuzu
Thankfully the dessert arrived, signalling the last of the courses. I was so full, but I always have room for dessert!
It was gorgeous. Sweet, subtle and simple. I wished that I could make such amazing chocolates.
It was such a delightful and satisfying meal.
My girlfriend told me about Chef Moe’s humble beginnings; how he arrived in Australia with almost no money; how he worked hard as a kitchen hand, doing odd jobs; his 13 years of cooking experience preparing Japanese cuisine; how Marumo first started as a tiny shop in the Southern suburbs of Perth, serving fish and chip by day and Japanese fine dining by night; the growth of his business and reputation solely through word of mouth; his dedication to quality and his passion for creating traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist.
It seems like all the hard work is paying off for Chef Moe and his wife, Marie. I wish them all the best!
Yep, I would go back in a snap and and would love to share the experience with my friends and family.
Who knows, hopefully I’ll be successful with the online reservations and cross my fingers that I’ll nab a booking four months from now for my birthday!